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The Wright Wisconsin Wonder: America's Most Famous Architect
June 14, 2021

The Wright Wisconsin Wonder: America's Most Famous Architect

by The CE Shop Team

The Badger State Was Home to Renowned Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Wisconsin’s most notable former residents span from Georgia O’Keeffe to Harry Houdini, but did you know that the Badger State also housed a particularly illustrious architectural icon? Frank Lloyd Wright was born right here in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and his impact on architecture in the state and beyond was monumental. Let’s dive into a little slice of Wrights’ history as well as some of his most notable Wisconsin builds. 

Frank Lloyd Wright

In 1867, Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, though his family eventually settled in Madison. Amidst his parents’ divorce and resulting financial issues, an 18-year-old Wright began working in the University of Wisconsin’s department of engineering alongside his studies. Wright was certain of his potential as an architect so, in 1887, he made the move to Chicago and found success at some of the nation’s top firms.

Two short years later, Wright began designing his first home in Oak Park. The property reflects his interest in line, shape, and volume, and it quickly caught the attention of locals. Wright began accepting commissions shortly thereafter and eventually opened his own architecture firm. 

Wright spent the next fifteen years defining and popularizing his signature Prairie style. These homes incorporate a long, low structure that mirrors the prairie. They often have open floor plans, connected indoor and outdoor spaces, and an emphasis on geometry. 

After securing success in the States, Wright traveled and worked overseas, finding international fame. After a period lacking both creativity and commissions, he took up lecturing, writing, and even created an apprenticeship program, the Taliesin Fellowship.

Then, finally tired of the midwest winters, he moved to Arizona in the 1930s. He accomplished some of his best works, including Fallingwater and the Herbert Jacobs house, and built a phenomenal permanent home in Scottsdale. Wright continued working well into his 80s and passed away in 1959, just shy of 92.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Work in Wisconsin

While Chicago’s Robie House and Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel may be some of Wright’s more well-known works, he’s responsible for an array of architectural icons across the Badger State as well. Stop by the Romeo and Juliet Windmill in Wyoming, Wisconsin, a stunning set of two towers evoking Shakespeare’s famed lovers that is also a National Historic Landmark. Or, check out Henry Wallis Summer Cottage on Lake Delavan. The waterfront home has been modified, but it still holds the elegance and interest characteristic of Wright’s work. If you’re still not sold, try Taliesin, Wright’s crown jewel and a property that will appeal to just about anyone. Wright’s home, studio, and school, Taliesin sits on the Wisconsin River and offers stunning views, events, and educational programming, and some of the best examples of Wright’s exploratory work.

Or, if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, take a trip down the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail. This self-guided motor route spans nine counties in Southern Wisconsin and charts some of Wright’s most impressive structures across the state. Simply follow the posted signs along highways to get a feel for the dramatic landscapes that inspired his signature style as well as some seriously breathtaking architecture.  

Frank Lloyd Wright Trail

Source: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation//Wright in Wisconsin

Architecture and Real Estate

So, how exactly does this architectural icon apply to your real estate practice? We promise we’re building up to something! Understanding and appreciating local architecture can help you become a more informed and helpful agent, even if your client isn’t shopping around for a Wright original. Taking some time to learn about and reflect on different architectural styles can help you steer clients to the right home, whether they want a Prairie or a Post-Modern. 

Plus, in-depth knowledge of your market is critical as an agent. Wisconsin’s real estate market is red hot, so there’s no better time to grow your knowledge, build on your career, and differentiate yourself from the competition.