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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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General view

Detail of courtyard

Detail of house

33 E. Mile Road, Wind Point, Racine County
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Date of Construction: 1936

Set in a 30-acre wooded ravine with a series of ponds and lagoons, the Herbert F. Johnson house is the largest and most dramatic of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School inspired homes. Built in 1936, for Herbert Fisk Johnson, President of the Johnson's Wax Company, the house displays what Wright called the "eloquence of materials," beautifully finished materials of wood, concrete, and brick. The house seems to grow naturally from the rolling grassy slopes and shallow ravines. The plantings of evergreens and other trees specified by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 have now matured to create a harmonious balance with the architecture.

Wright designed this 14,000 square foot building as a "wigwam" featuring a fire in the center and a hole in the top to let the smoke out. The house radiates outward from this central fireplace core into four separated wings that Wright termed "zoned" areas of living. In the design for "Wingspread," as the house was known, Wright departed from his previous houses and fitted each wing with separate uses- living quarters in the center, the masters' rooms in one wing, a children's wing, services in the third, and guest rooms and garage in the fourth.

Exterior walls are formed from the same red brick found on the interior, pierced by cantilevers and balconies of lap siding cut from California cypress, a wood also used in the pergolas. A number of interior walls are finished in Frank Lloyd Wright's famous "Cherokee red," partnered with slightly concave brick, and rough plaster. The wood on the interior of the building, including several expanses of paneling, is American Oak. The 30 foot high chimney tower rising front and center of the Johnson house includes five fireplaces. Three bands of glass skylights encircle this chimney as part of roof that adorns the wigwam shaped central portion of the residence.

The Johnson family lived at Wingspread for over 20 years before presenting it to the Johnson Foundation in 1960. Wingspread is still used today, but as an important educational and cultural conference center.

Wingspread is a private property and is open to the public by prearranged tour.


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