By Kristina LeVan
Located along Lake Michigan, Racine boasts fantastic waterfront views, charming downtown and a rich artistic history that showcases the work of world-famous Frank Lloyd Wright. The city is home to three works designed by one of the most influential personalities in modern-day architecture.
Kick things off with a tour of two of Wright’s most notable commercial buildings – The SC Johnson Administration Building and the SC Johnson Research Tower, both part of the SC Johnson Company.
Started in 1886, the SC Johnson company became a household name thanks to its line of innovative cleaning supplies. The booming business was ready to expand in 1936 and enlisted the help of the Wisconsin-born architect.
The Administration Building opened in 1939, followed by the Research Tower in 1950. Both buildings are still in use today and open for tours from March to December.
Today, the Administration Building is regarded as one of the top 25 buildings of the 20th century and is known for its dendriform (tree-shaped) columns that support the structure’s Great Workroom. Equally impressive is the 15-floor Research Tower. More than 7,000 glass tubes make up the windows of the towering research lab.
Spend part of your day at Wingspread, a personal estate which Wright built for then-head of SC Johnson, H.F. Johnson and his family. This 14,000-square-foot property is the largest of the famed architect’s signature Prairie-style houses, and his last.
Like most private homes built by Wright, Wingspread’s exterior is made up of organic design elements which intentionally blend the house with the surrounding landscape. While the house may appear compact from the outside, the 30-foot tall chimney, floor to ceiling windows and skylights help elongate the interior’s living space.
While in Racine...
When you're in Racine checking out the genius work of Frank Lloyd Wright, make your trip complete with a visit to some other local gems.
The Racine Art Museum (RAM) is a must-see for art lovers. With more than 8,000 objects, RAM holds the largest and most significant contemporary craft collection in North America. Unlike most museums, exhibits change three times a year and none of the galleries are dedicated to one permanent collection, offering visitors a constant look into the works of nationally and internationally recognized artists.
During the summer months, travelers can make a pit-stop at North Beach to take in the views of Lake Michigan. This Certified Blue Wave clean beach was voted No. 4 in USA Today's 2016 Reader's Choice 10 Best Freshwater Beaches. Wind Point Lighthouse, one of the oldest and tallest operating lighthouses on the Great Lakes, also offers fantastic seasonal views of Lake Michigan.
Fill up for dinner at Racine's classic supper club, HobNob. The name alone will take visitors back to a bygone era, but the restaurant completes the effect with its elaborate chandeliers, purple ceilings and plush ivory seating. Couples can enjoy everything from a Friday night fish fry to a roasted duck with orange sauce. Dinner wouldn’t be complete without a signature ice cream drink.
Make a weekend of it
The Doubletree by Hilton Racine Harbourwalk Hotel, located in downtown Racine’s shopping and dining district, offers views of Lake Michigan and the marina. For a more intimate setting, reserve a room at the Christmas House. Built in 1893, the Christmas House features four elegant suites and a homemade breakfast.
No stop in Racine would be complete without a visit to O & H Danish Bakery for the shop’s famous Kringle. The flaky pastries have been handmade the same way for more than 65 years and have become a local breakfast and holiday staple. O & H also offers Danish coffee cakes, layer cakes and crown cakes, tasty souvenirs for the trip home, or breakfast as you continue on your way to another portion of the Frank Lloyd Wright trail.
Browse more stops along the trail, and check out these Frank Lloyd Wright homes where you can spend the night!