Last Updated on January 8, 2023 by JaimeSays
It has been rough lately, to see how expensive foodstuffs like organic olive oil and wild caught salmon cost to stock at your home. It seems like no matter how I try to tighten my belt around non-essential spending, our grocery, tax, and home utility bills keep climbing. It’s been a real bummer, and so I’ve had to be more thoughtful about my entertainment and “other” spending. I unsubscribed from Hulu after being a 10+ year subscriber, and subscribed to Melaleuca for American-made, non-toxic household products. But, we all need a way to unwind now and again. Some people prefer day spas, but I tend toward activities that allow me to learn something new. What a gift it was, then, to discover that two Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Wisconsin are open to the public for free tours. That’s right, free! Let me give you a little breakdown of these free things to do in Wisconsin, and you can decided if you want to book a tour for yourself.
Free Things to do in Wisconsin: Tour SC Johnson Headquarters, a Frank Lloyd Wright Design
There is a good chance that you have SC Johnson products in your home. While I do not use their cleaning products (see Melaleuca disclosure above), I do use their silicone Stasher bags. You can see the entire lineup of brands that SC Johnson owns at the entrance point for the facility. With it’s giant Golden Rondelle, this building is a significant demarcation from the residential neighborhood wherein it lies. A Frank Lloyd Wright design from the 1964 World’s Fair, it was disassembled and brought to Racine for its permanent home at SC Johnson Wax.
What You’ll See on The Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright Designs and More
There are several different tours available on the SC Johnson Campus. This is because the Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings are no longer in use, but the Gensler designed Waxbird Commons are fully functioning office space. The Frank Lloyd Wright designs are always on the tours, but sometimes the current office space is off limits. In the off season of late fall into early spring, full campus tours are only conducted on weekends. They are much more plentiful during the summer to accommodate more visitors. Tours span from one to two hours in length, and can include the historical FLW buildings and/or the in-use buildings, and can be geared toward adults or kids. Check out the tour descriptions to figure out which one ticks your box of these free things to do in Wisconsin.
The Frank Lloyd Wright designed administration building was in use all the way up until 2021, when the LEED gold certified Waxbird Commons was completed. One of the tallest towers built on a cantilever base, the Research and Development tower was decommissioned back in 1982. Flanking either side are beautiful indigenous inspired sculptures that are seen in many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mid-to-late life commissions.
Looking for the most fabulous Winter Getaway in Wisconsin?
A Frank Lloyd Wright Design that Inspired Fx’s “Mad Men”
In my opinion, the crown jewel of the site tour is visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright designed office headquarters. Completed in 1929, it sits comfortably on the Top 100 Buildings of the 20th Century list, as determined by Architectural digest. The entrance is wild, as it is behind an FLW parking structure that has similar pointed support beams. The entire building appears to be standing on giant golf tees! As is the case with all Frank Lloyd Wright designs, all of the furniture within are also his designs. Truly like walking into the set of Mad Men!
What to Expect: If you choose to have a guided tour of the entire site, it takes approximately two hours. This tour seemed age appropriate from anyone 12-14+. There is a good deal of walking, both inside and outside. The Research Tower is not ADA compliant.
Another Free Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin Design to Explore: Wingspread
After spending the morning at SC Johnson HQ, we continued on with our day with yet another Frank Lloyd Wright design. Also part of SC Johnson, this formerly private home is now an executive retreat. The largest and last Prairie Style residential home that Frank Lloyd Wright built, this property is quite exhilarating to tour. My favorites on the grounds are the Olympic length pool and the dinner table. I found the grounds with additional Prairie style homes to be quite bewitching.
What to Expect: The tour lasts about 40 minutes and includes a short feature movie. Afterwards, you are free to spend additional time exploring the house and grounds.
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