RACINE, Wis. — In the late 1800s, architect Frank Lloyd Wright pioneered the Prairie-style home.
The result was a residential architecture revolution across the United States.
The debut exhibit at The SC Johnson Gallery: At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright explores this transformative style and examines Wright’s impact on the American home.
Located on the Wright-designed SC Johnson campus in Racine, Wis., the gallery is free and open to the public with tours available Fridays and Saturdays.
“Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-Style designs are iconic and we are so excited to add The Gallery and this exhibit to our campus. It’s an opportunity to showcase some of these never-before-seen items and provide a more in-depth experience for our visitors,” said Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President – Global Corporate Affairs, Communication & Sustainability for SC Johnson.
“Globally, architecture has been significantly influenced by Wright’s Prairie-Style, but he only designed and built 551 Prairie-style homes and buildings in the United States. We’re thrilled to feature his work and display some of his unique designs and artifacts.”
The Gallery, housed in the Fosters + Partners designed Fortaleza Hall on SC Johnson’s campus, is also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Research Library, which features a collection of more than 800 items.
Co-curators for The Gallery are Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, archives director at Taliesin West, Ariz., and Brady Roberts, chief curator of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
The notion of how people connected with nature shaped the foundation for Wright’s highly influential Prairie-style designs, which established his reputation as an architect.
Simultaneously, Wright and several other architects from the Midwest came to be known collectively as “The Prairie School.” This group preferred an architecture style that stressed horizontality in houses — the line of the prairie — and evolved into a style in which rooms opened unto each other and extended the spatial enclosure into the site.
On the exterior of Prairie-style homes, the walls started at the ground on a cement or stone water table that looked like a low platform under the building. The windows were designed as a continuous band of light. The roofs were gently sloping or flat and they extended out over the open-swinging windows for protection from the elements.
The interior of Prairie-style homes relates to and complements the exterior shape, creating organic architecture.
Wright only used elements in their natural state (wood, brick, stone) in the homes he designed.
As Wright’s designs evolved, he planned the living room, library and dining room as one continuous space free from partitions and doors, which is what later became known as the “open plan.”
Prairie-style artifacts at The Gallery include:
- Reception chair, Frank Lloyd Wright Studio, 1895, Oak Park, Ill.
- Library Table, Edward C. Waller House, remodel, 1899, River Forest, Ill.
- Slant-back dining chair, Hillside Home School, 1902, Spring Green, Wis.
- Hanging lamp, William R. Heath House, 1905, Buffalo, N.Y.
- Flag and Balloon Window (architect’s sample window), Coonley Playhouse, 1912, Riverside, Ill.
- Weed-holder, 1895
See more Wright
The Gallery adds to a number of Frank Lloyd Wright landmarks across the Midwest.
Racine is situated in the middle of a 220-mile span between Oak Park, Ill. and Spring Green, Wis. Additional works of architectural importance within the area include:
- Wingspread, the home Wright designed for the Johnson family in 1937, in Racine, Wis., now a conference center for The Johnson Foundation. For tour information: http://www.johnsonfdn.org/contact-us/tours-johnson-foundation-wingspread
- Taliesin, Wright’s home and architectural laboratory in Spring Green, Wis. For tour information: http://www.taliesinpreservation.org/visitors-guide/our-tours
- The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Ill. For tour information: http://gowright.org/home-and-studio.html
- The Robie House in Chicago. For tour information: http://www.gowright.org/research/wright-robie-house.html
- American System-Built homes in the Burnham Street Historic District, Milwaukee. For tour information: http://www.wrightinmilwaukee.com/tours/tabid/56/Default.aspx
- The Jacobs House in Madison, Wis. For tour information: http://www.usonia1.com/06_visit.html
For other Racine-based attractions and hotel accommodations, visit www.realracine.com.
Visiting SC Johnson
SC Johnson offers three tour programs that run from 1 hour to 3½ hours. Tours are on Fridays and Saturdays and are all free.
The tours include:
- The Legacies Tour (3½ hours) – This in-depth tour explores the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed SC Johnson Administration Building and the award-winning Foster + Partners-designed Fortaleza Hall with the Spirit of Carnauba airplane soaring at its heart. See Sam Johnson’s acclaimed film Carnauba: A Son’s Memoir, with its enduring family message, and enjoy the Academy Award-winning documentary To Be Alive! This tour also includes The SC Johnson Gallery: At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright.
- The Landmarks Tour (2 hours) – Designed in 1936, the Administration Building was the first project that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for SC Johnson. Renowned for its unique dendriform columns, open concept half-acre of workspace, circular “bird cage” elevators and 43 miles of glass tubing, this landmark is celebrated as one of the top 25 buildings of the 20th century. In this tour, explore the Administration Building and visit the Foster + Partners-designed Fortaleza Hall. Then, enjoy The SC Johnson Gallery: At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright.
- The Gallery Tour (1 hour) – The Gallery Tour is designed for those who want to focus on The Gallery and its debut exhibit.
The Lily Pad, a gift shop featuring exclusive SC Johnson memorabilia and Wright-inspired items, is open in conjunction with all tours.
For large groups of 20 or more people, call the company at (262) 260-2154 to schedule.