A Historical Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin
Monona Terrace from the lake | Courtesy of Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright is widely considered to be America’s greatest architect. His career spanned seven decades, and his designs are on display across the country. However, some of Wright’s best works can be found in his home state. When following in Frank Lloyd Wright’s footsteps, be sure not to miss these memorable spots in Wisconsin.
SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower
Home to the SC Johnson global headquarters, the SC Johnson Administration Building opened in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1939. This building, considered to be one of the most important structures of the 20th century, helped define Wright’s career. The research tower followed in 1950 and is one of the world’s tallest cantilever structures. Wright fans wishing to get a glimpse at the inside of this spectacular building can book a free tour through SC Johnson.
This residence was built from 1938 to 1939 for the family of Herbert Fisk Johnson. Wingspread sits on a 30-acre property and is 14,000 square feet. What’s unique about this building is its shape—a four-winged pinwheel. Incorporating aspects of Wright’s “organic” architecture, the primary materials used to construct Wingspread include wood, limestone, brick, and stucco. This structure was to be Wright’s last and largest Prairie House and is now used as an education and conference center by the Johnson Foundation.
The Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center was a project that was 59 years in the making. Wright initially proposed the idea in 1938, followed by several years of reworking the design and giving his final approval in 1959. However, it didn’t become a reality until 1997. Just two blocks from the state capital building in Madison, what Wright envisioned as the “dream civic center” is now a popular meeting place that curves along the shores of Lake Monona.
The 800-acre estate of Taliesin was the Wisconsin home of Frank Lloyd Wright. It includes buildings from every decade of his long career. The name of the estate was chosen to honor his Welsh heritage, and the valley its perched in is said to have been the main inspiration for his architectural innovations and designs. Some of the famous buildings on the estate are the Taliesin residence, Romeo & Juliet Windmill, Hillside Home School, Midway Barn, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. This complex should be a key destination on any Frank Lloyd Wright sightseeing itinerary.
Wright's A.D. German Warehouse | Courtesy of A.D. German Warehouse
The A.D. German Warehouse is the architectural treasure of Frank Lloyd Wright’s hometown. He designed the building in 1915, and it was completed in 1921. On the National Register of Historic Places in Wisconsin, it is believed to be the only warehouse that Wright designed. A memorable concrete frieze encircles the top of this four-story building, which is the last of Wright’s commercial structures to remain from this time period.
The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church was one of Wright’s final major design commissions before his death. He passed away in 1959 before the groundbreaking began, and the church was dedicated in 1961. Wright’s design incorporated the traditional domed space, symbols, and colors of the Greek Orthodox Church, but the circular design was something new.