Little-Known Bay Area Facts About Frank Lloyd Wright

During design of Marin Civic Center, Wright accused of being Communist sympathizer

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010  |  Updated 6:07 AM PDT
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Revealing Architecture at Two O'Clock

Chris Willis / Flickr

Marin County might have had to hire someone else to design the iconic Marin Civic Center thanks to right wingers red-baiting Frank Lloyd Wright.

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It's not everyday that someone considered an inspiration for a character in an Ayn Rand novel has to defend himself from accusations of being a Communist sympathizer, but that's what architect Frank Lloyd Wright was doing on Aug.16, 1957.

Apparently the Marin chapter of the American Legion had accused Wright of being a fellow traveller in the midst of yet another "Red Scare" in America. In it, Wright says that he hated the government in the Soviet Union as well as the McArthyist reaction to it.

The 90-year old Wright had been commissioned by the county to design the Marin Civic Center, and sent the angry letter to a Marin County supervisor.

Reportedly, after the legionnaires presented their case that Wright was a pinko-lover, Wright left the council chambers and had to be talked down into returning and signing the contract to design the building.

Wright died two years later before the completion of the civic center building.

The letter, and other memorabilia related to Wright's time in Marin County, is up for auction on Saturday in San Rafael.

Jackson West also dislikes both Stalin and McCarthy, so cheered to know he and Wright had something in common.

Photo by Chris Willis.

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