A retired public library administrator and former children’s librarian, Betsy Bray joined the Conservancy in 2005 when a docent on her tour of the Pope-Leighey House in Alexandria, Virginia, told her about the organization. She is a regular volunteer at Conservancy events, providing invaluable support with tours, registration and the silent auction. Betsy is an internationally known authority on the children’s author Beatrix Potter and served as the first overseas trustee on the board of the London-based Beatrix Potter Society. She gives talks about Potter all over the world and leads tours in the UK to Beatrix Potter sites. Betsy also teaches courses on Cape Cod modernist architecture for lifelong learning programs, including a course on Wright and architect Charlie Zehnder. An avid traveler, Betsy writes about her adventures at betsybray.org.
What’s your first experience or earliest memory of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture?
Visiting the Guggenheim Museum as a child. I grew up in the New York City area.
What work of architecture that was demolished really affected you in a personal way?
The Hoffman Auto Show Room in New York City. I remember going by it all the time to get on the West Side Highway. It was tragic the way it was torn down so quickly and quietly [in 2013].
Is there one work of Wright’s that has touched you more than any other?
The SC Johnson offices were so beautiful I was moved to tears. And the Walker House in Carmel, California.
What has been your best experience or favorite memory over your years with the Conservancy?
So many. The Mason City conference [in 2012] was a delight for me both as an attendee and a volunteer. Seeing the lovingly restored Park Inn Hotel and City Bank Building made me aware of how committed Mason City is in the preservation of its treasures. Some of the finest Prairie School architecture can be found here. The volunteers were a great group of people who shared a love of all things Wright and their city. The Conservancy auction room where I volunteered had 76 trombones hung on the ceiling. There is a Music Man connection in Mason City.
What have you enjoyed most about volunteering for the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy?
I have always enjoyed working and organizing conferences during my career and in my retirement. This is my little way of giving back to the important work of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. I love working with the staff and the attendees… we have fun, that’s my mantra!
Posted February 22, 2017