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Teater's Knoll, Bliss


"No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other."

--Frank Lloyd Wright

  • Idaho State Historical Society, Idaho State Historic Preservation Office (ISHI #47-1966)
  • Archie Teater Studio, Bliss vicinity, Idaho, 1983

Idaho has just one Frank Lloyd Wright-built house. The Teater house--or Teater's Knoll, as it is called, sits on a basalt cliff in the Hagerman Valley, just outside of Bliss.

Archie Teater, a regionally successful landscape artist, and his wife, Pat, commissioned Wright to build what would be a studio for the couple. Bought in 1949, the arid, isolated site was to become the place for the Teaters' modest artist retreat--and they wanted the famous Wright to build it. The Teaters contacted Wright in the fall of 1951 and asked him to design the building. They were surprised when Wright agreed to do it. Even at the beginning of what would be a long process of construction, Wright was a very old man and near the end of his life--yet he continued to work.

The Teater studio's simple design, characteristic of Wright's principle of "organic architecture" would become a part of the landscape into which it was built. Also characteristic of Wright, the design was an artistic masterpiece, despite the relatively small scale of the commission. The Teater house was constructed of quartzite stone, and its distinctive pointed roof juts out over the cliff, recognizable even from a distance.

The small, one-room building, the only studio Wright was commissioned by a client to design, was begun in 1953. It took four years to construct the 30- by 40-foot studio, and the construction was plagued with difficulties, particularly money woes. (Teater tried to pay many laborers in paintings, and few agreed to this arrangement.)

Despite difficulties, the studio was finally completed and the Teaters retreated there for two months every spring and fall until the mid-'70s. For a few years before and after the deaths of both Archie and Pat Teater, the studio sat vacant and fell into disrepair. In 1982, the place was put on the market and Henry Whiting, a trained architect who happened to have an interest in Wright, bought the place and began a long process of restoration. After an attempt in the '90s to sell the studio--bafflingly, no one was interested in buying--Whiting still owns the Teater studio today.