William Wesley Peters was born June 12, 1912 in Terre Haute, Indiana to Clara Margredant Peters and newspaper editor Frederick Romer Peters. He attended Evansville College from 1927 to1930, then studied engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1930 to 1931. In 1932 he became Frank Lloyd Wright’s first apprentice, firmly establishing the Taliesin Fellowship.
Peters collaborated with Wright for more than a quarter century on projects including Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, the S.C. Johnson Wax Complex in Racine, Wisconsin, the First Unitarian Meeting House in Madison, Wisconsin, the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Price Tower, and a significant number of other public and commercial buildings and private residences.
Peters’ architecture possessed a highly distinctive style. From the dramatic and glamorous: the opulent Pearl Palace designed for the sister of the Shah of Iran is an articulate example-to the intimate and inviting: his many modestly scaled private homes. A registered architect in 50 states, Guam and the United Kingdom, he designed more than 120 built projects.
William Wesley Peters penned more than two dozen significant professional articles and was recognized throughout the international architectural community. In the early 1980s Peters designed the Bartlesville Community Center, a performing arts complex adjacent to Wright’s skyscraper, the Price Tower, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Peters’ heart seldom strayed far from Taliesin. He wore two watches; one set for Taliesin time and the other for his current time zone. From 1940 to 1959 he served as Secretary of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation; in 1959, the year of Frank Lloyd Wright’s death, Peters became Chief Architect and Vice President for Taliesin Associated Architects. In 1985, the year of Mrs. Wright’s death, he added the title Chairman of the Board of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to his laurels. These last three titles, identifying him unequivocally as heir to the Wright legacy, he would hold until his death July 17, 1991.
Peters was described as a chess player of tournament caliber. A Wisconsin newspaper, The Capital Times, said of him, “He reads extensively and is regarded as one of the best informed men anywhere.” His intense interests included fast cars, scientific farming, military history, rare coins and Native American weaving.
Ultimately Peters would receive three honorary PhDs: Honorary Doctor of Science (Evansville College, 1971), Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (Center College of Kentucky, 1973), and Honorary Doctor of Architecture (Florida Southern College, 1989).