The Wisconsin Frank Lloyd Wright Trail

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In celebration of the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright in June, 2017, the Wisconsin Frank Lloyd Wright Trail is gaining great popularity and press. I highly recommend visiting as many of the homes and buildings as possible along the 200 mile trail from Spring Green to Racine. Highlights of the Trail include:

Spring Green, WI

One of the highlights of Spring Green is a visit to Taliesin. Built in 1911, this is Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio for more than 50 years. Make sure to book your tour online before you go. There are a number of options from a one-hour Hillside Studio and Theater tour, a one-hour Life at Taliesin Tour, a two-hour House Tour, a four-hour Estate Tour and a two-hour Preservation Tour.

I took the two-hour Highlight Tour where I was able to spend an hour inside Wright’s house and another hour at the Hillside Studio and Theater where you can visit the drafting rooms, the stunning dining room and theater with gorgeous stage curtain used by the Frank Lloyd School of Architecture whose students currently split their time here and in Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. The house was wonderful with great views and features his Asian art collection and the carpets and furniture he designed. I particularly loved seeing the nautilus shell that Wright showed Solomon Guggenheim when he came to Taliesin to discuss his proposed museum in New York. It was this shell that inspired his famous design!!

You can also see some exterior views of some of Wright’s buildings including the farm buildings as you tour the beautiful grounds.

Other examples of Wright’s architecture in the area include:

Riverview Terrace Cafe: This is a fine dining restaurant in the Taliesin visitors center overlooking the river below. The setting is lovely and it is the only restaurant designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Don’t miss the gorgeous ceiling. 5607 Highway C.

Wyoming Valley School Cultural Arts Center: At 6305 Highway 23, just south of Spring Green, this is a small cultural center that was designed by Wright in 1957. The space is used for performances, exhibitions, workshops and lectures throughout the year. I was able to see a photography exhibition while taking photos of the interior. It has two classrooms and a larger assembly hall that was used in the past as an elementary school.

Unity Chapel: Just south of the Visitors Center for Taliesin, on State Road T, is Unity Chapel. Commissioned by the Lloyd-Jones family and completed in 1886, it was designed by Chicago Architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee and Frank Lloyd Wright, “a young boy architect of the family who looked after its interior.”

Madison, WI

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center opened in 1997 after 60 years of debate. The building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 as a cultural, government and recreational building. It was reworked several times between 1938 and 1959. Final plans were completed  seven weeks before his death. The plans were finally approved in 1992 as a community and convention center. Wright’s final design was used for the outside, but the interior was redesigned by one of his Taliesin apprentices, Tony Putnam. You can see a number of photos of Wright and visit an exhibition about the design and final construction of the building. The view from the pedestrian pathway is not to be missed. There is also an attractive rooftop garden. One John Nolen Drive.

South of the University is a newly discovered Frank Lloyd Wright home at 2107 W. Lawn Ave. It was built in 1917 and is one of only 14 remaining examples of Wright’s affordable housing project

Unitarian Meeting House: Located on the west end of the University of Wisconsin, at 900 University Bay Dr., this single-level church was commissioned in 1946 and designed by Wright. It was completed in 1951. Additions were added in 1964 and 1990 and designed by Taliesin Associated Architects. Tours are available so check out their website for information as times and dates change by season.

Racine, WI

Wingspread: This is the residence of the Herbert Fisk Johnson family designed and built in 1938-39 by Frank Lloyd Wright. The 12,000 sq. ft. house is shaped like a four-winged pinwheel and built of limestone, brick, stucco and wood. It’s 30 foot-high chimney, with five fireplaces on three levels is the centerpiece of the house. Free, self-guided tours are available so book online before you go to get the date and time you want. I liked the fact that you could walk through at your own pace. It was the home of the Johnson family for 20 years, but today is operated as a conference center by the Johnson Foundation and is a National Historic Landmark. 33 E. 4 Mile Rd.

SC Johnson: SC Johnson is the maker of many of the household products we use daily from Pledge, Raid, Ziploc bags, Glade and more. Taking a tour of their corporate headquarters is a must when you are in Racine. Here you can visit the Research Tower designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939 and opened for tours in 2014 and the Wright designed Administration Building, also from 1939, with its large Great Workroom with Wright designed furniture. Next is the newer contemporary Fortaleza Hall with a museum on the history of the company plus gift shop. Tours start in the Golden Rondelle Theater which was the former SC Johnson Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair which was moved to the site and rebuilt. The free guided tours last an hour and a half and can be booked online before you go. 1525 Howe St.

 

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