Desert Treasures

The Biltmore Sprites.

The Biltmore Sprites

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's majestic creations watches over the Biltmore gardens. Wright designed the human-size 400-pound statues 99 years ago.

The Arizona Biltmore.

Desert Treasures

Frank Lloyd Wright's "Lost Children" Live on at Arizona Biltmore

By Katherine Tweed

America's most celebrated architect came to Arizona because a hotel was being built: the Biltmore, which, for Frank Lloyd Wright, marked the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the desert. So it's fitting that, more than 50 years after his death, some of Wright's most timeless creations—once dubbed his "lost children"—watch over the gardens at the hotel.

One of Wright's protégés, Albert Chase McArthur, designed the Biltmore. "The entire building is Frank Lloyd Wright inspired," says Becky Blaine, resort historian and public relations manager for Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Fifteen years before the Biltmore's debut, Wright designed Midway Gardens in Chicago, including majestic statues called the Sprites of Midway Gardens. But in 1929, the gardens and its sprites were bulldozed and lost forever.

At least that's what everybody thought. Years later, a few sprites were found on a Wisconsin farm. No one knows exactly how they got there. One theory: They were saved and stashed away by a member of the wrecking crew. After the startling discovery was made, the statues ended up at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. In 1985, Wright's widow had six casts of the sprites made and gifted them to the Biltmore, where they have remained ever since. "We like to say that they watch over the Biltmore gardens as they watched over Midway Gardens," says Blaine.

The Biltmore Sprites.

The Biltmore Sprites

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's majestic creations watches over the Biltmore gardens. Wright designed the human-size 400-pound statues 99 years ago.