Susan Jacobs Lockhart

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CAMBRIDGE, MA–Former Middleton and Spring Green area resident Susan Jacobs Lockhart, 87, died peacefully on Aug. 22, 2022 at home in Cambridge, MA, due to complications from COVID-19, with her husband, Harvard University Art and Architecture Professor Neil G. Levine, who cared for her during the final weeks, by her side.

Susan was born in Milwaukee, on Nov. 19, 1934, the daughter of sculptor and architect expert Katherine F. (Wescott) Jacobs and her husband Herbert Austin Jacobs, a former Milwaukee Journal and then Capital Times newspaper journalist. Susan dedicated herself to living, enriching, and preserving the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. For many, she embodied it and its values. Her involvement with Wright began at an early age.

Her childhood was spent in Madison, where her parents built the first of two Frank Lloyd Wright homes. The Jacobs House of 1936-37, 441 Toepfer Ave. in Madison, was the first of Wright’s Usonian houses, and is now on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage list.

The equally innovative second Jacobs House, where Susan spent her teenage years, was built on a circular plan around a sunken garden at 3995 Shawn Trail in the Town of Middleton in 1946-49 and is considered a precursor of sustainable design.

Upon graduating in 1953 with a degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was president of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Susan moved to New York City, NY to study music and work for Atheneum Books publisher Alfred A. Knopf.

Wright invited Susan and her then-husband, David Coe Wheatley (a St. Louis, Missouri native and former Taliesin apprentice who she married on March 30, 1957 in Madison.) to join the Fellowship in 1957. From 1958 until 2002, Susan actively participated in Fellowship life in both Wisconsin and Arizona, where she and her second husband, Kenneth Burton Lockhart (an Iowa native who she married on Sept. 29. 1961 in Phoenix, AZ.), built a cottage in the desert above Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. Susan served on the Fellowship’s senior teaching faculty, directed the bi-annual Taliesin Day Symposium and was Program Coordinator for arts and cultural events, pianist for the Taliesin chamber group, and lead dancer in the Taliesin Festival of Music and Dance.

She was arguably the most prominent face of Taliesin to the outside world, connecting people to the community and vice versa. Susan served on the board of Jazz in Arizona and the Scottsdale Arts & Culture Visiting Committee. In the 1980s, she became senior graphic designer for Taliesin Architects and was responsible for a remarkable suite of designs for Phoenix’s Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Her own art, including sculpture and architectural glass, both leaded and sandblasted, and porcelain and stoneware place settings for Edith Heath and Tampopo, featured abstract geometric patterns based on nature.

Susan joined the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy board in 1996 and left the Fellowship in 2003 to live in France and in Cambridge, MA with her third husband, Neil Levine. She served as president of the F.L.W. Conservancy from 2009 to 2011 and became the first executive editor of the Save Wright magazine, which she revamped and expanded into new territories. She also designed the Conservancy’s glass Wright Spirit Award, given annually to recognize individuals and organizations that have worked to preserve Wright’s legacy. Most recently Susan co-authored a book to appear later this year titled “Wright’s Jacobs Houses: Experiments in Modern Living.”

Susan and Neil got together in 2002, and in the following year she left Taliesin and moved to Cambridge, MA to join him. They were married in 2007 and, up until her death last month, they spent much of the year in France, either in their apartment in Paris or their country house in the western part of Burgundy known as the Morvan.

She is survived by her husband, Neil Levine; her stepdaughter, Leslie L. Bisharat, of Granite Bay, CA; her stepson, Brian Lockhart, of Tucson, AZ., and two younger siblings, her sister, Elizabeth Jacobs Aitken, and her brother, William W. Jacobs. She was preceded in death by her parents, Herb (May 20, 1987), and Katherine (Sept. 16, 1995).

“Susan was a joyful forward-thinking Trustee of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation” said the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in a statement. “She brought her enthusiasm for creativity to numerous programs at Taliesin and Taliesin West, and in separate pursuits like the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, a first-class annual music festival held in Madison.”

Memorial services will be held at a later time in Scottsdale, AZ. and in Madison.

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