The Wright Way

Wisconsin establishes its own Frank Lloyd Wright Trail

Architecture Midwest Newsletter
Wisconsin establishes its own Frank Lloyd Wright Trail. Seen here: Monona Terrace. (Courtesy Emery/Wikimedia Commons)
Wisconsin establishes its own Frank Lloyd Wright Trail. Seen here: Monona Terrace. (Courtesy Emery/Wikimedia Commons)

In honor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, which will be on June 8th, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism has mapped a self-guided tour through nine of Wright’s most iconic built structures. Winding through nine counties, the trail starts in the southeast corner of the state and ends in the west. As a designated motor route, new signs will guide tourists across the state.

The first stop along the new trail will be the SC Johnson Administration building and Research Tower. Along with the SC Johnson corporate campus, the trail takes tourists to the Johnson family home, Wingspread, which Wright completed in 1939.

Heading north to Milwaukee, the trail leads to one of Wright’s six remaining American System-Built Homes, built in the nineteen-teens. The American System-Built Homes were meant to be affordable to the typical family. While 16 of these homes have been identified throughout the Midwest, a full six of them are located on Milwaukee’s South Side, along West Burnham Street and Layton Boulevard.

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SC Johnson great workroom. (Historic American Buildings Survey)

The trail then heads east to the state capital of Madison, with its Monona Terrace and First Unitarian Society Meeting House. The Monona Terrace was first proposed by Wright in the 1930s but was not completed until 1997. The First Unitarian Society Meeting House was completed in 1951 and was the home of Wright’s own congregation.

The final three stops along the trail are in the picturesque Driftless Region of the state, an area just outside of where glaciers in the last ice age stopped their southern movement. The first stop in the area is the estate Wright built for himself, Taliesin, which also features the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. The epic 800-acre estate is nestled into a ridge, overlooking the dramatic landscape, giving it its name which means “shining brow” in Welsh. The Wyoming Valley School and Cultural Arts Center is located just three miles from Taliesin. Along with offering workshops in music, science, and painting, it also provides youth architecture workshops.

The final stop on the trail is the AD German Warehouse in Richland Center. The four-story storage facility once held sugar, flour, coffee, tobacco, and other commodities. Currently, it is home to a gift shop, a small theater, and exhibit space for large murals which depict the Wright’s work. The warehouse is one of the best examples of his sculptural ornamentation, in the form of a cast concrete frieze.

For more on the trail, visit TravelWisconsin.com.

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