Spring Green

Overview

Introduction

Located in southwestern Wisconsin, this town is a pilgrimage site for students of modern architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin, one of his Prairie School masterpieces, south of town. The history of Taliesin is as complicated as its architecture is impressive: Wright built the house for Mamah Cheney, a client with whom he had a scandalous relationship. She was murdered, along with her children and several others, by an emotionally disturbed house servant. Wright ended up living in the house with his fourth wife—but not without further travail. Taliesin survived more than one destructive fire and Wright's perennial bankruptcy to stand today as a monument to architectural genius. A variety of tours are available (May-October), some taking you inside Taliesin, some detailing the Hillside Home School (including drafting studios, galleries and a theater) and some covering the extensive grounds at the complex. Advance reservations are required. The Wright Visitors Center at the complex includes a cafe and bookstore.

Note: If you're fascinated by Wright's work, you'll find many more of his designs in the state. Northwest of Spring Green in Wright's hometown of Richland Center, you'll find the A.D. German Warehouse, a large structure completed in 1921. Tours are available May-November. Racine, south of Milwaukee, has the S.C. Johnson Wax Administration Building, one of his most famous corporate commissions, and Wingspread, one of his Prairie-style houses that's now a conference center. Madison, Milwaukee and Mirror Lake State Park also have Wright buildings (the vacation cottage at Mirror Lake is the only Wright-designed house available for rent). For more information on touring the structures, contact the Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin Heritage Tourism Program, P.O. Box 6339, Madison, WI 53716-0339. Phone 608-287-0339.

Architecture of another sort is evident at House on the Rock, which was built on a high outcropping near Spring Green in the 1940s. Other structures have since been added to the site to exhibit all sorts of things: music boxes, mechanical toys, antique firearms, jewels, Orientalia and one of the world's largest carousels. There's also an attraction called the Blue Danube Music Machine. If the architecture and oddities don't intrigue you, the magnificent view over the Wyoming Valley certainly will. Spring Green is also home to the American Calliope Center, which has what's said to be the world's largest collection of antique circus calliopes. Spring Green is 115 mi/185 km west of Milwaukee.

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