WORLD-CLASS PRESENTATIONS and CURATED BUCKET-LIST ADVENTURES.
WORLD-CLASS PRESENTATIONS and CURATED BUCKET-LIST ADVENTURES.
At just 13 years old, I knew I wanted to be an architect. Hearing my interest, my mother bought me a book about architecture at a library book sale. The book's subject? Frank Lloyd Wright.
Twenty years later, after architecture school morphed into a career designing products for my own company, I wanted to get back to my earlier love so I began presenting talks about Frank Lloyd Wright's life and architecture to small groups at museums, libraries, and women's groups.
In just a few short years, this led to invitations from organizations all over the country and opportunities to present at some of the most famous Wright structures, including Hollyhock House in Los Angeles and Robie House in Chicago.
Today, the story has come full-circle, with my mother, Robin Richter, joining me to curate special Wright-focused tours through our small company, Architecture Travel Companion. From day trips to sites like Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida or the Spring House in Tallahassee, to weeklong intensive trips to Wright's Prairie work in Oak Park, Illinois and to his iconic work at Fallingwater in Southwestern Pennsylvania, we put together amazing experiences for our guests, based upon Robin's knowledge of the travel industry and my passion for the architecture of Mr. Wright.
As a child, I was mesmerized by the gentle geometric rhythms of Wright's work. Without knowing then that his work was rooted in nature and organic principles, I absorbed the concepts of his ordered designs that synced with my own burgeoning understanding of the natural world. Wright's ideas and creations resonate for so many of us, because they reflect back our natural harmony with nature, filtered through the lens of our human need to recognize patterns and order the world around us. Now as an adult, it is my great joy to share my lifelong love of this master artist's work with others.
We are busy crafting our next years of tours to important Wright sites around the United States. We expect to curate both large and small group tours. We hope to be able to share our excitement and the amazing sites that await us soon.
Image at top left of page: Tim Totten, Brock Stafford (Tour Operations Manager at Taliesin) and Robin Richter at Taliesin, August 3, 2020. (Click photo for link to Taliesin Preservation.)
I'm so glad you're here to see and learn about us and our adventures! Tim Totten is a world-renowned speaker and expert on Frank Lloyd Wright and his presentations are extremely entertaining and enlightening. Attend or book one and I guarantee you will not be disappointed! Book one of our upcoming adventures, too!
I had been studying the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright for more than twenty five years before I finally booked a trip to Wisconsin to visit Wright's own house. In that span, I'd read hundreds of books, visited more than a dozen public Wright sites, and shared my storytelling sessions with thousands of interested guests. But I hadn't yet made "the pilgrimage" to see where the work was created and how the master architect himself lived.
It's important to understand that while Wright wanted, sometimes desperately, to create large public designs, he was primarily an architect of houses. His work shaped the way his clients lived their lives and, by way of his own notoriety and through the Taliesin Fellowship, influenced the way other architects designed homes across the country and for years to come. Seeing how he himself lived seemed vitally important to understanding how he crafted the designs that changed so much of how we live in this country.
Getting to Wright's Wisconsin home is not easy. The closest airport is Madison, but even for a larger city, the flights are seldom direct and - at least at the time - only a few airlines serviced the state's capital. Once in my rental car, I immediately sought out the Unitarian Meeting House. It was the closest Wright I could tour before driving the hourlong rural path through the tall hills and lush valleys to Taliesin just outside of tiny Spring Green, Wisconsin. The Meeting House was magnificent, living up to all the photos and stories about it's amazing construction by the members of the church, but it was really only a preview of what I'd waited too long to experience.
I arrived in Spring Green later in the day than I had originally planned. I'll confess, I'd taken two stops in Madison to see each of the two houses that Herbert & Catherine Jacobs had commissioned Wright to design for them. The Jacobs I, as it's called, is on a residential street, which explains why Wright chose to put very few windows at the front and turn the house toward the back yard. The other house, obviously called Jacobs II, was more rural and almost impossible to see with the landscaping. The current owners have had to erect a small sign reminding visitors that they are at a private residence and that trespassing on their property is illegal. Fortunately, I was able to visit the house again years later as part of a "Wright in Wisconsin" tour, for which the owners graciously opened their home and gardens.
Spring Green is a quaint little town; the "welcome" sign on the highway boasts some 800 residents. Laid out in an easy grid, the tiny downtown boasts three designs by Taliesin Associated Architects, including a bank, the bank's former drive-thru that is now an unusual residence, and a lovely church. There are also cute shops, simple local restaurants, and wide streets that just beg residents to walk and bike to the nearby community grocery store or the baseball fields.
Sadly, most of the restaurants were closed by the time I arrived, so I enjoyed a quick drive through the area then hightailed it to the local Culver's, a Wisconsin-based fast food chain famous for butter burgers and frozen custard! I hauled my respectable meal - if a burger, fried cheese curds, and a "concrete mixer" made with frozen custard and Heath bar pieces can be considered respectable - over to the Usonian Inn, a local motel with a distinctly organic flair. Comprising about a dozen rooms, the roadside motel was designed in 1948 by J.C. Caraway, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. The inspiration from Wright's Usonian building style was a great way to begin my immersion into Wright's own world of architecture.
Being a native Floridian, I wasn't ready for the crisp morning - even in the summer - and the amount of fog that would greet me as I made my way out the door of my comfortable room. Too excited to sleep in, I was definitely up and out before most other visitors to the sleepy area, which meant my trip over to Taliesin was on clear roads; I felt like the only person heading to Taliesin that day! As I neared the bridge over the Wisconsin river, I got chills. Not just from remembering the story of Wright's stepdaughter, Svetlana, dying in a flood that pushed her car off of a bridge and into a local river, but also because I could see the roof of the Riverview Terrace Cafe and Visitor's Center perched over the shoreline.
Most guests would make a beeline for that location, but I had three stops I had to make to pay homage to the legendary architect. First, I pulled over just after the visitor's center to peer up the hill to the main house, Taliesin. With the early morning light behind me and the fog blanketing the valley, the sparkling house seemed to float over the hills rather than be connected to them. Wright's playfulness was on full display as the house is partially hidden behind trees and other landscaping, the roofline and the jutting birdwalk piercing most noticeably through the foliage. I stood on the side of that road for far too long, annoying the few drivers who had to be careful not to get too close to my rental car, which I'd just barely gotten off the roadway.
My need to see Taliesin in person wasn't quenched, but I'd had a big enough sip to tide me over until my up close tour later that day. I drove down the country road further to the entrance of the Hillside Home School. This was, for springs and summers, the home of the Taliesin Fellowship for so many years. Standing next to my car, which this time I'd been able to pull into a driveway, I marveled at the way the building reminded me of other Wright projects but how much it fit the landscape of this "driftless area" of Central Wisconsin.
My last stop was at Wright's first building, the small family chapel that the Lloyd Jones clan had commissioned from Joseph Silsbee and for which a teenage Wright was credited as devising the interiors. It was next to this small chapel where Wright was interred just a few months short of his 92nd birthday, when a complication from surgery for a bowel obstruction took his life in 1959. Wright's resting place, surrounded by numerous graves of his closest associates, is of course the showiest of them, with a leaded glass ornament and a large natural rock upended at the head of his grave to mark the place where a great architect was buried. Standing in that small family gravesite, surrounded by the man's friends and family (including the mistress, Mamah, who was murdered by a crazed servant and laid to rest at the base of a large tree just 20 feet from Wright's eventual grave), I felt a connection to the man I had somehow not felt before.
By coming to his home, and also his grave, I'd also brought my own relationship with his work and life "home". At that moment, and at several others as I toured the amazing home on the hill, something 'clicked' inside me. I can't describe it any other way, but I know that during that visit, my fascination turned to a stronger respect, and, in some strange way, a love. Love not just for what he accomplished - because there is enough to let you overlook his personal life - but also a love for who he was. A love for the people and world that shaped him and a love for the home he created for himself and the people that he himself loved.
Finally, the man who I loved to tell funny stories about and whose work I admired in a geometric and abstract way became suddenly and fully real for me. Sitting in his living room and listening to an interpreter describe Wright playing piano not five feet from my seat while I looked out at the expansive Wisconsin landscape beyond, I understood the man and his love of nature in a way I hadn't before. That moment changed everything for me. And the limited spotty cellphone coverage and getting stuck behind tractors on that two-lane hourlong trip out to Spring Green are small prices to pay to feel that way again and again.
One of my very favorite Wright Usonian houses. Located in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, the Louis Penfield House is available for overnight rentals. The story goes that Mr. Penfield wrote Wright for a house design, enclosed a check as a downpayment, and then waited. The plans that arrived were magnificent except for one tiny detail: they ceilings were only 6'8" tall. Mr. Penfield sent back a letter asking for a revision, as he himself was 6'6" tall and he was worried about claustrophobia! The design that returned was even better, with a double-height living room, and it's the house featured in this amazing video.
As of July 10th, 2021... We are anxiously waiting for Florida Southern College to allow larger tours again!
This is the description of our tours to FSC. We have taken many people on this very in-depth tour by Tim Totten. We usually have several tours each year.
Master Storyteller Tim Totten will take you on an in-depth walking tour of the Wright-designed campus of Florida Southern College, culminating in a tour of the Usonian faculty house, completed from Wright’s plans in 2013. This tour is perfect for those who have heard Totten’s talks and want to see the architecture in three dimensions. Tour will include all buildings on campus designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that are open at the time of the tour. Special events, rentals, and/or repairs may close one or more buildings during the tour.
While the tour features numerous places to stop for a seated discussion of the architecture, the buildings are spread out on the campus and not all are accessible without walking. If you have difficulty standing for 30 minutes at a time or walking at least 1 mile during the 3 hour tour, this may not be the tour for you.
Tim was a Volunteer Docent at the college and has intimate knowledge of the campus. His tours always sell out quickly.
Did you know that S.C. Johnson started out selling parquet floors? Sales of the products to clean those floors made the company change their focus. Today they sell a whole range of household products.
S.C. are the initials of the company founder, Samuel Curtis Johnson.
Frank Lloyd Wright did not like air conditioning. Click here for more info.
In 1953, over a million units were sold. By the 1960s, air conditioning was more common and gaining popularity. Today, 87% of all households have air conditioning.
Out-of-work, Wright's son, John Lloyd Wright, turned his attention to a pint-sized design project. In 1916, using the blueprint for the Imperial Hotel as a model, he created a toy construction set that consisted of notched pieces of wood that children could stack to build log cabins, forts and other rustic buildings.
This is Tim's main business. Final Embrace produces and manufactures products for the funeral home industry. The business started in 2001 and continues today as the leader in alternative viewing products for the funeral home industry throughout the world! We also provide our products to hospitals, morgues and removal services. Approximately one-half of our business comes from wholesale customers.
Our banner program has been widely embraced for the banners we produce and hang in downtowns and other locations. We offer banners for veterans every year and Tim paid to have banners made and displayed for every graduating senior in Lake County, Florida in 2020. We do banners all over the country.
Tim has a YouTube channel where he offers directions, advice and just a lot of fun while showing you how to create your own projects and is big on making masks that people love! He gives you the instructions and a paper template is available. If you wish to purchase an acrylic template, those are available through Artisan Laser Guild. Visit, view and subscribe to Tim's YouTube channel below:
Join our group by clicking on our Facebook page below:
Tim is the founder and president of the Amazing Race for Charity. He brought the race idea to the Eustis, Florida community and we had our first race in 2014. Each year, teams of two run, skip, jump and mostly walk to compete in 20 or more challenges throughout a different 5 mile course in Eustis. Donations are made to local Lake County charities only and the charities are chosen well in advance through an application process. To date, over $202,000 has been given to local Lake County charities. ARFC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, incorporated in the state of Florida.
Robin has been a behind-the-scenes volunteer since day one and is on the board as a Director.
Our next race is April 1, 2023.
We are registering racers and volunteers at this time on the website.
Click the website above for more details!
TEDxEustis is a licensed TEDx event brought to you annually in Lake County, Florida, by co-organizers, Timothy Totten and Byron Faudie. Our TEDxEustis began in 2017 and our first event was held on January 5, 2018 in downtown Eustis.
Subsequent events have been held on:
January 18, 2019
January 17, 2020
January 30, 2021
January 29, 2022
Our next event will be January 2023.
Our speaker applications are taken in the middle of the year before each event and our coaching process takes approximately seven months before a speaker hits the stage. Applications for 2023 are not open yet.
We are not just any TEDx. TEDxEustis stands apart for the quality of the talks, crafted by our unique coaching and curating process. We received 116 applications for our 2022 event. The application is the most important thing you present to us for consideration.
TEDxEustis, Inc. Board
Tim Totten, President
Byron Faudie, Vice President
Robin Richter, Secretary and Treasurer
TEDx is a global movement devoted to bringing Ideas Worth Spreading to communities around the globe through independently-organized TED-like events http://www.ted.com/tedx
x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)
We Introduce You to Therapy Dog Work and More!
PAWS Therapy Dogs, Inc. is operated by volunteers only. We have no paid positions.
Since 2004, PAWS has been assisting with therapy dog teams. Each team has one dog and one handler.
There is no charge to learn about therapy dog work. We hold orientation four times a year in Eustis, Florida.
We visit many locations each month with our teams of volunteers and their therapy dogs.
PAWS also provides humane education and how to be a responsible pet owner.
We also assist other charities, especially at holiday time.
Robin and her dog, Josie, a Boston Terrier, up until April 2022, were a therapy dog team.
Robin is the Secretary of the PAWS board and she developed and maintains the organization's website.
Eustis, Florida USA
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1809 s. bay street, eustis, florida 32726-5666 USA
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Featuring the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright