Racine is home to many architectural gems created by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). Among his best-known works are buildings at the SC Johnson headquarters campus, 1525 Howe Street, Racine.
The SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower
The largest commercial project designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was completed in 1939. The Great Workroom of the building contains almost one-half acre of floor space. The ceiling is supported by large golf-tee shaped columns that have been termed one of the most advanced structural supports in modern architecture. These columns soar 31 feet from floor to ceiling. The furniture was also designed by Wright to add efficiency and beauty.
The adjacent 15-story Research Tower, opened in 1950, became the birthplace for several of SC Johnson's most trusted brands, including Raid, Glade, OFF! and Pledge. The Tower is an example of cantilever construction with an inner core extending 50 feet into the ground that provide support for the 16 million pound structure.
Last used in 1982, the tower was dormant for decades before undergoing an extensive interior and exterior restoration. It reopened for public tours in May 2014.
Golden Rondelle Theater
The nearby Golden Rondelle Theater was constructed for the SC Johnson Wax pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. It was brought back to Racine and placed on a new base, which was designed by the Taliesin Associate Architects to complement the existing buildings of the SC Johnson corporate headquarters. The Golden Rondelle hosts many community and educational events and offers a rotating schedule of films. Tours of the SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower and the adjacent Fortaleza Hall, are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Tours for groups of 20 or more may be arranged by appointment. To book a tour, call 262-260-2154 or use the online reservation form - click here.
Also designed by Wright...
Other Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in the Racine area are the Hardy House (private residence; not open for tours) at 1319 S. Main St., and the Johnson Foundation's Wingspread Conference Center.
Wingspread, 33 E. Four Mile Road in the Village of Wind Point, was the home of H.F. Johnson and family. One of the largest Wright-designed private homes (14,000 square feet), it is now serves as an international educational conference facility. The property is available for tours, by reservation, Wednesday through Sunday. Click HERE or call 262-260-2154 for tour information.
Taking the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail...
After visiting the Racine County site, you're welcome to continue on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, a self-guided architectural tour through nine Wisconsin counties. The trail, established by state law in 2016, has specially designed signage to guide visitors to nine significant architectural treasures that are regularly open to the public.
In addition to the three Wright-designed buildings in Racine County, the FLW Trail can take you to these sites:
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has more Frank Lloyd Wright Trail information at www.travelwisconsin.com