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01/25/2011

Edgar Tafel, architect who trained at Taliesin with Frank Lloyd Wright, dies at 98 [Updated]

January 25, 2011 |  9:35 am

Tafel 
New York City architect Edgar Tafel, an original Taliesin fellow credited with saving some of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important works, has died. He was 98.

Tafel, who was instrumental in helping save two historic interiors from a house designed by his celebrated mentor in Minnesota, died Jan. 18 at his home in lower Manhattan, said Robert Silman, a longtime friend and New York structural engineer.

He was the last surviving member of the original Taliesin fellows, a community of young apprentice architects established in 1932 at Wright's home and school in Spring Green, Wis., Silman said.

He had a hand in two of Wright's most enduring structures: Fallingwater on Bear Run creek in southwest Pennsylvania and the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wis.

In his own practice, which Tafel opened in New York after World War II, he was perhaps best known for designing the Church House for the First Presbyterian Church, a 19th century landmark in Greenwich Village.

Decades later, Tafel was instrumental in helping save two Prairie-style interiors from Wright's Francis W. Little House in Wayzata, Minn., before it was demolished in 1971. The living room is installed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the library is in the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania.

His other projects included three college campuses, 35 religious buildings, six townhouses and 80 homes.

Tafel, born in New York City, is the author of "Years With Frank Lloyd Wright" and "About Wright."

-- Associated Press

Photo: Edgar Tafel, standing second from right, and other Taliesin apprentices surround their mentor Frank Lloyd Wright at the architect's studio in Spring Green, Wis., in 1938. Credit: Associated Press

[For the record, Jan. 27, 2:20 p.m.: An earlier version of the photo caption gave an incorrect position for Edgar Tafel as second from left.]

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