Travel writer to discuss Frank Lloyd Wright homes at Grandview library
For Upper Arlington resident Shawnie Kelley, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater has the right stuff.
"It blew me away," the first time she toured the historic home three years ago in southern Pennsylvania, Kelley said.
"It was built in such a great setting. I was expecting a house with a waterfall, but I didn't expect it to be as modern and forward thinking as it is," she said. "It's an amazing house everyone should see."
Kelley will present a lecture and slide presentation featuring three Pennsylvania homes and other estates designed by Wright at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb.16, at the Grandview Heights Public Library, 1685 W. First Ave.
An architectural historian and travel writer, Kelley is completing work on a regional guide to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania that will include a section on Wright.
"It's amazing to have these architectural masterpieces less than a three hour drive away," she said.
Although she grew up in Pittsburgh, she never visited the Wright homes as a child.
But there was plenty of architecture, art and history in the Steel City to capture the imagination of a child, Kelley said.
"I pretty much grew up always loving art and architecture," she said. "I've studied it all my life."
Her studies at Carnegie Mellon University, Ohio State and the University of Edinburgh led to a research position with English Heritage, the organization that owns and operates most of the historic sites in Great Britain.
Her research work focused on castles, abbeys and medieval sculpture, including projects to determine the dates of buildings and sculptures.
"I love that period of history," Kelley said. "One of the best things about those projects was that since I was trying to date these pieces of art and architecture I got to travel around England and France to see other pieces made around the same time. I've covered Great Britain east and west, north and south."
She was most entranced by the Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, England. It was the first Cistercian abbey in North England.
"It's this massive skeletal ruin built in the 12th century, Kelley said. "The first time I went there it was just after a rainstorm and here was this magnificent ruin of a castle rising out of the foggy ambiance."
She spent so much time researching at the abbey "that I came to think of it as kind of my own special place," she said.
Kelley moved back to the United States in 2002.
"I guess I could have moved just about anywhere, but there was something about Columbus that drew me back here," she said.
Two years later, she was surprised when she came up empty when she was looking for a travel guide to Columbus to send to a friend.
"I was familiar with and had used the 'Insider's Guide' series of books, so I contacted the publisher and asked them, not thinking of writing it myself, if they'd consider doing a book on Columbus," Kelley said. "Much to my surprise, they asked me if I wanted to have a go at it."
Her research for "Insider's Guide to Columbus" became "a very personal project for me," she said. "I wanted to learn how Columbus developed historically. I learned about the city's diversity and its art scene.
"I love our art scene. I think we have so many incredible artists and musicians for a city our size," Kelley said. "And I love the restaurants around town."
In addition to her books and her articles for Renaissance Magazine and other publications, Kelley also teaches several courses a year in art, architecture and history for Upper Arlington's Lifelong Learning and Leisure program.
"I really enjoy teaching for Lifelong Learning. It's a nice release for my love of medieval architecture since we don't have many examples here in Ohio," she quipped.
Her upcoming courses for Lifelong Learning and Leisure include "Castles of Scotland" on Feb. 18, "Cistercian Abbeys of France and England" on Feb. 22 and "The Knights Templar Part 1" on March 8.
To learn more about her courses and other Lifelong Learning and Leisure programs, call 583-5333.
For more information about Kelley and her books, go to www.shawniekelley.com.