Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 21, Number 1, Spring, 2009 Page: 24
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Ro.r lay. ft, Spitlle .nd tum n. Ud Frank U.oyd Writght, W -al rlhitt, diA o pt-
pot erNvi e-1 -ll lll> r hot-l for D]lnCX
Frank Lloyd Wright and his prospective client, East
Texas oilman Rogers Lacy, discuss the proposed hotel
project in Dallas over lunch in March 1946.
town hotel,Wright hinted that his design would
"glisten in the night," suggested calling the
building "the Lone Star," and invited the Texans
to his winter studio in Arizona.' When his invi-
tation was not immediately accepted, he caught
a train to Dallas, leaving his secretary and an
apprentice scrambling to follow by car.
The visit confirmed his hopes. Early in his
career, he had described his ideal clients as "men
of business with unspoiled instincts and untaint-
ed ideals,"6 Wright-speak for self-made men
with a fresh, straightforward perspective, suscep-
tibility to his architectural charms, and (more
importantly) loyal checkbooks. He saw similar
qualities in Rogers Lacy, the prospective client,
and Gordon Rupe. Lacy, whom Wright quaintly
called an "oil capitalist," had parlayed borrowed
gas money for daily visits to Dad Joiner's infa-
mous East Texas strike into an oil and agricul-
tural empire.7 Rupe, whom Wright initially flat-
tered as having the "sagacity, experience, and
integrity" to make the project a reality, began his
career selling shirts and Arkansas lake lots and
founded a Dallas investment banking firm that
became the first Texas member of the NewYork
That the pair also shared a bottom-line
focus, reluctance to commit funds, and plans to
trade on the architect's celebrity for marketing
purposes was not disclosed in the whirlwind
Dallas courtship. Wright's collision with these
archetypal qualities of the Dallas Developer
would prove exasperating.
Despite leaving Dallas without a contract,
Wright could hardly conceal his enthusiasm. He
outlined for Rupe a proposal for an 826-room
hotel "beyond anything in the nation" which he
estimated would cost $7 million (later revised
upward to $10 million, approximately $110 mil-
lion today).9 He would brag to another client of
his first $1 million fee."'
Unwilling to "pay too high a price for a
look at the hole card,"" however, the Texans
balked at Wright's contract demand for payment
of one-third of the architectural fee upon deliv-
ery of preliminary plans. Ego compelled Wright
to counter that "preliminary sketches are the
most valuable part of my work,"12 but oppor-
tunism counseled against gambling on the point.
In a letter to Rogers Lacy revealing his emo-
tional and intellectual investment in the project,
Wright readily compromised on the initial
installment of his fee and embarked on the
design:"I shall begin to put down on paper what
has been upper most in my mind since we met
in Dallas. The scheme is immensely attractive
and already involves about all I've learned in
fifty-two years in my practice of Architecture."'3
3 eaming like a proud new father, Wright
strode into the Taliesin drafting room on an
early June morning clutching a rolled up draw-
ing. The apprentices stood up from their drafting
tables with their customary deference, but instead
of returning to work gathered around him as he
unfurled the drawing with a flourish. Taliesin had
been abuzz for weeks over a mysterious Dallas
hotel project that had consumed Wright since the
annual return to his Wisconsin home and studio
in May. (One apprentice overheard him mutter,
"I'm a genius" as he labored over the design.'4) To
their astonishment, his riot of lines and graphite
revealed a plan, a cross-section, and an exterior
elevation, all on one page, in a dazzling culmina-
tion of the themes of his career.'5
24 LEGACIES Spring 2009
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 21, Number 1, Spring, 2009, periodical, 2009; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth66966/m1/26/: accessed December 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.