Lonely Planet Writer

Time to hit the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail this summer in Wisconsin

To celebrate the 150th birthday of renowned modern architect Frank Lloyd Wright on 8 June, his home state of Wisconsin is inviting visitors to follow in Wright’s footsteps. The nine-stop Frank Lloyd Wright Trail goes from Racine to Richland Center, crossing the bluffs and prairies of southern Wisconsin – the terrain that inspired Wright’s famed Prairie School of architecture – and showcases nine of the architect’s most outstanding residential and commercial designs.

S.C. Johnson and Son HQ, Racine, Wisconsin
Building, globe, and grounds of the S.C. Johnson and Son headquarters building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Racine, Wisconsin Image by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Most notable among them is, of course, Wright’s own home of Taliesin, which sits on 800 wooded acres above the Wisconsin River. This remarkable home was built in 1911, and Wright lived there for much of his life. It’s been open to visitors since 1967 and draws thousands each year.

Less known but equally groundbreaking are the SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin. This office building, completed in 1939, is a Wright creation inside and out – even down to the furniture. Its many nature-inspired design elements include graceful, tree-like columns supporting the roof of the main office space, which Wright called the Great Workroom. The research tower has walls covered with more than 7000 Pyrex tubes that refract abundant natural light without glare – a boon in today’s screen-centered workplace.

Another under-visited gem on the trail is Madison’s First Unitarian Society Meeting House, one of the last buildings Wright completed. Built in 1951 for the congregation Wright’s own father once served, the church’s soaring copper roof and jutting, prow-like paned windows make it a striking example of modern church architecture.

Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor, dedicated state funds to create markers for the trail with typography that mimics Wright’s aesthetic, saying ‘Wright’s architecture is world-renowned, and these signs will boost tourism even further throughout Wisconsin.’

If just looking at a Frank Lloyd Wright building isn’t enough for you, keep driving west: There’s a late Wright house on the market in Minneapolis for a cool $1.39 million.