The Ascension sanctuary and facility
is significantly influenced by the Organic Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
and Taliesin West. Mr. Wright's son-in law, Wesley Peters, was the
architect of record. Mr. Peters incorporated the pentagon into the design
of the building internally and externally. The pentagon points to
Pentecost, which was the birthday of the Christian church, when the Holy Spirit
was given to all believers.
About the Architect
at Ascension know William Wesley Peters through his architecture. We feel
God's presence in this space and appreciate the symbolism of his geometric shape
of the pentagon, but Wesley was more than an architect of one building. He
was an architect of many buildings, a respected member of the Taliesin
Community, and a fine human being.
as he came to be known, grew up in southern Indiana. He was born in Terre
Haute to Clara Margredant Peters and Frederick Romer Peters, newspaper editor.
He graduated from high school in Evansville and attended Evansville College from
1927-30 and MIT from 1930-31. In 1932 he became the first apprentice in
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fellowship. At MIT he was trained as an engineer and
as an architect at Taliesin.
did the engineering calculations for Frank Lloyd Wright's designs of
Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, the Johnson Wax Complex, the First
Unitarian Meeting House in Madison, WI, the Greek Orthodox Church of the
Annunciation in Wauwatosa and any number of other major buildings and private
homes. Richard Carney, CEO of the FLW Foundation, said, "Wes provided
the engineering that made many of Mr. Wright's buildings possible and Mr. Wright
inspired Wes to reach beyond anything he could have achieved alone. Each
was richer because of the association with the other."
Wesley Peters had his own style of architecture. He could be dramatic and
glamorous as in the opulent Pearl Palace which he designed for the sister of the
Shah of Iran or intimate and warm as in many modestly scaled private homes.
He was a registered architect in 50 states, Guam, and the United Kingdom.
He designed more than 120 projects including 7 places of worship.
a personal note, Wes married Frank Lloyd Wright's adopted daughter Svetlana in
1935. They had 2 sons: Daniel and Brandoch. In 1946 his wife, son
Daniel, and unborn child were tragically killed in an automobile accident in
Wisconsin. Wesley accepted his responsibility for rearing Brandoch.
He and Brandoch lived in a three-room apartment at Taliesin West and a slightly
larger one at Taliesin. Brandoch continues to live on the farm his father
once owned in Wisconsin where they raised thoroughbred cattle. Wesley
Peters married a second time in 1970 to Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Aliluyeva.
They knew each other for 22 days prior to the wedding and separated 20 months
later. This union produced a daughter, Olga Peters Evans. At the
time of Wesley's death, she was living in London.
Wesley Peter's sister was Margedant Hayakawa whose husband was S. I. Hayakawa,
noted General Semanticist and U.S. Senator from California. Wesley
designed their house remodeling project which was featured in the June 1961
issue of House Beautiful.
wrote thirty professional articles and a chapter in a book about Frank Lloyd
Wright. He was recognized throughout the architectural community, and in
1963 received the Missouri Association of Registered Architects Award. Mr.
Peters was given three honorary PhD. Degrees. In 1971 Evansville College
presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Science. In 1973 Centre College
of Kentucky presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, and in 1989
Florida Southern College presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Architecture.
heart was never far from Taliesin. He wore two watches; one set for
Taliesin time and the other set for the place he happened to be. He always
played an important role in the Taliesin Fellowship. From 1940-59 he was
the Secretary of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation; in 1959 when Mr. Wright
passed away he became the chief architect and vice-president for Taliesin
Associated Architects; in 1985 when Mrs. Wright passed away, he became the
Chairman of the Board of the Frank Lloyd Foundation. At the time of his
passing he held the titles of Chairman of the Board, Vice President, and Chief
Architect of Taliesin Associated Architects.
William Wesley Peters, from all accounts, was a special
human being. In a feature article
in a Wisconsin newspaper, The Capital Times, he is described in this manner:
" He reads extensively and is regarded as one of the best informed men
anywhere." His interests
include sleek ships, fast cars, scientific farming, military history, rare
coins, and Indian rugs. He was
described as a chess player of tournament caliber.
Vern Swaback, one of Wright apprentices and successful architect in
Arizona, described Wes as "simply the most generous, selfless man I have
ever known. He retained the playful
soul of youth, seemingly undiminished by the sufferings of life, of which he
endured far more than his share. I
don't think it would have been possible for Wes to intentionally hurt anyone.
He wouldn't have known how to do so."
E.R. Ronald, Jr., a consulting engineer who had worked with Wes on a
number of projects, describes Wes as having a virtue of humility.
"He seemed to treat everyone the same, on an equal basis-whether it
would be the janitor in the building or the president.
He always had time for them and answered their questions.
His enthusiasm was infectious. It
was fun- to be around him" Many other describe him as unfailingly polite,
optimistic, enthusiastic, and generous.
We at Ascension thank William Wesley Peters for being the kind, generous renaissance man with the ability to design a quality building for us which can be enjoyed for generations.
Excerpts from a
message sent by architect William Wesley Peters to Ascension Lutheran on its
dedication in 1964
'The plan for the fully developed Ascension Lutheran Church
building is based on three elemental geometric forms: the Pentagon, the Circle,
and the Straight Line. The ground
plan involves an interrupted circular form intersecting a pentagon.
Ascension Lutheran Church