Timeline covering milestones in the life of Russel Wright and the creation of Manitoga


1904  Birth of Russel Wright in Lebanon, Ohio on April 3rd.

1920-24  Studied art and sculpture at Cincinnati Academy of Art, Art Students’ League; designed theater sets at Princeton and in Paris with Norman Bel Geddes.

1927 Married Mary Small Einstein. Began design career creating life-size celebrity caricature masks, miniature plaster animals, spun pewter bar accessories.

1931  Participated in exhibition of Contemporary American Industrial Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

1932  Designed aluminum stove-to-tableware; commissioned by Wurlitzer to design radios, an accordion and a piano.

1934  Designed mix-and-match furniture for Heywood Wakefield, including a sectional sofa.

1935  Formed Russel Wright Associates with Irving Richards. The term “blonde” coined by Mary Wright to describe light maple furniture finish.

1939  Began production of American Modern dinnerware, manufactured by Steubenville Pottery Company. Wright’s greatest commercial    success: over 200 million pieces sold by 1959.

1939  Wright designed the Food Focal exhibition at the World’s Fair in New York.

1942  Russel and Mary purchased 75-acre abandoned quarry and logging site in Garrison.

1946-49  Introduced Casual Line stove-to-table dinnerware.

1950  Birth of daughter Ann. Guide to Easier Living published. Easier Living furniture manufactured by Statton.

1952 Death of Mary Wright.

1953  Introduced Residential melamine dinnerware.

1955  Sent by US State Department to Southeast Asia to research handicraft industries.

1961  Dragon Rock House completed; RW moved here full-time in mid 1960s.

1967  Developed “Summer in the Parks” program for National Park Service.

1975  Manitoga deeded to The Nature Conservancy by Russel and daughter Ann.

1976  Death of Russel Wright.

1984  Manitoga, Inc. established as a 501(c)3 non profit organization.

1987  Manitoga Summer Camp inaugurated.

1996  Manitoga named to National Register of Historic Places.

2001  Ann Wright life estate interest transferred to Manitoga, Inc.

2001-2  Retrospective exhibition Russel Wright: Creating American Lifestyle at Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; Ongoing Studio and House restoration efforts initiated.

2004  Seasonal House, Studio, and Landscape public tours launched.

2006  Manitoga declared a National Historic Landmark.

2012  Manitoga named World Monuments Fund Watch Site.

2014  Artist Residency program launched to revive Wright's legacy of creative experimentation.

2016  Open Space Institute, in partnership with Manitoga, preserves permanent public access for the trail network. 

Photos: Mary and Russel Wright: Manitoga Archives; American Modern Pitchers: Masca; Russel Wright: Manitoga Archives