The story of Hilltop is intertwined with the story of the Wyoming Valley and Frank Lloyd Wright who encouraged his apprentices to purchase the land surrounding Taliesin, in hopes of building his futuristic Broadacre City. Herbert Fritz was the first of the apprentices to purchase neighboring land with others following suit.
The valley boasted a rich history with the Lloyd-Jones family arriving from Wales in the 1860’s. Mr. Wright’s uncles and aunts eventually owned most of the farms in the area. The land on what is now Taliesin was owned by Anna Lloyd Jones, Mr. Wright’s mother; the land bordering it was owned by his aunts, Jane and Ellen Lloyd Jones, who operated the Hillside Home School, the first coeducational boarding school in the Midwest. Using the Hillside School Buildings, Mr. and Mrs. Wright, in 1932, created the Taliesin Fellowship, which evolved into The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and continues to this day.
Hilltop was originally owned by one of Mr. Wright’s uncles, James Philip and his aunt, Mary Lloyd Jones. The farm passed down through the family ending with its sale by James Philip’s nephew and his wife, William and Hazel Jordan, to Herbert Fritz in 1941.
1941 - Design and Construction
The Hilltop land totaled 130 acres and boasted a 13-room farmhouse, farm buildings, machinery, a herd of cows, two belgian horses and various other farm animals. Herbert planned to remain with the Taliesin Fellowship and use the farm profits to pay for a hired hand to run the farm and pay off the purchase loan. Herbert quickly learned, however, that he was not cut out to be a farmer and that, followed by a lightning strike that destroyed the farmhouse, caused Herbert to design a new residence and focus on his architectural practice.
The home Herbert designed to replace the farmhouse connects to the barn via a bridge used as a guest room; the terrace beneath the bridge provides a majestic view of the valley beyond as well as serving as a breezeway in hot weather.
In 1945 Herbert married Eloise Bowyer and together they transformed the farm buildings and land into the Hilltop Summer Camp for Girls.