"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Since 2006, we have been visiting communities along the Lake Michigan coast of Wisconsin in a quest to see all the light houses. It took 9 years to see them all between Kenosha and Algoma, the southernmost community in Door County.
We both share a maritime heritage, as my husband is a Navy veteran, as well as his father Alvin T. Kutil and father’s brother Robert. They grew up in Manitowoc, where many ships were built that served in WW II. One of my great-grandfather’s was also a Navy vet about 100 years ago.
We will begin with Kenosha and work our way north.
Over the last several years we have taken an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and have actively sought out locations of the many buildings scattered throughout Wisconsin. We have found his work in many of the Wisconsin cities we have visited, including Madison where we live and it’s suburbs. Wingspread is the former home of S.C. Johnson and it was completed in 1939. It’s now open for free tours. Book yours in advance, no walk-in’s permitted. Planning well in advance of your visit is important as these tours fill up fast! We scheduled ours about 5 weeks before our visit.
Wingspread Tour – Call 262-681-3353. or choose your time here online.
Our tour began at 3:30, first an introduction by our guide Tracy. We then watched a 20-minute movie about Wingspread, many funny stories and anecdotes by the grown children who lived there. Here is a map of the grounds you can look at just outside of the entry gate. And we were given a copy of the house floor plan. This is a self-guided tour, and photography both inside and out is permitted.
Here is an overview of Wingspread, given by our guide Tracy.
We really enjoyed the tour and recommend it to any fans of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Also known as America’s Kringle Capital, Racine is one of the many beautiful Wisconsin Harbor Towns on the shore of Lake Michigan. We didn’t waste any time acquiring one of the delicious Danish pastry. We entered Racine on the west side and made our way to Bendtsen’s Bakery, providing Kringles to Racine for four generations, since 1934. We enjoyed the Turtle Kringle. They ship too!
Racine also has a statue unique to the state, if not the country. On the grounds of Gateway Technical College is a statue of Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd. It depicts them before he became President. Mary Todd had been in Racine in June 1867 to see Racine College, which had been recommended for her son Tad.
Racine Light Stations
A very important service protecting ships and boats on Lake Michigan for over 100 years. The one below is managed by the Coast Guard.
The Racine Reef Lighthouse is also equipped with a warning horn, protecting boaters from a limestone reef in the area. Here is what is sounds like.
Finding this Light (directions provided by terrypepper.com) “From I-94, take Hwy 20 east. Hwy 20 eventually becomes Washington Ave. Follow Washington Ave. to Hwy 32, and head north on Hwy 32. Turn right on Christopher Columbus Causeway, and follow around the marina until the road ends in a parking area. Walk the short distance to the lighthouse at the marina entrance.”
There is also an info board telling more about the light station.
Wind Point has a marker and a museum open during the summer.
We ate a meal at three restaurants and got a snack at another place during our visit. Lunch on Saturday was at Kewpie Lunch, open since the 1920’s. Yes, the theme is Kewpie Dolls. They have great food too!
We had dinner at Apple Holler, with a country theme. Lots of fun with many activities for kids and adults alike. Wonderful food there too.
On Sunday morning, we enjoyed brunch at Reefpoint Brew House, quite a nice menu there and a view of the Marina from the large windows.
Frank Lloyd Wright in Racine
He had a large presence in Racine, including company buildings. There is one house designed by him, the Hardy House. It’s located in the Southside Historic District.
Also Wingspread, which we took a free tour of! You have to book this tour in advance. S.C. Johnson and his family lived here originally. Due to high demand, we scheduled our tour about a month before our trip. You can also book a tour of SC Johnson Research Tower as well, they are just five miles apart. The tower looks beautiful at night! Book your tour(s) here.
Also on the site is the beautiful Golden Rondelle Theatre and Fortaleza Hall, where a Sikorsky S-38 amphibious aircraft is displayed.
We had been to Racine before, but it was all the way back in 1998, before we were married. We were very active scuba divers back then and we took a dive in the quarry here. We got a sketch of what you can find underwater in the quarry, facing north.
Across from Mound Cemetery (where we also visited), George Washington and other soldiers are honored. A cannon is also at the park.
At Mound Cemetery, we saw a marker commemorating Revolutionary War soldiers buried there.
Racine Harbor Park
Over by the lake and Marina, this park has a walking path along the lake, plus an elevated platform where you can see both the Breakwater light station, the other one across from it, and the Racine Reef lighthouse as well. You can eat at the Reefpoint Brew House too out by the Marina.
Near the Racine Zoo is another marker (2131 N. Main), describing the cream-colored brick that many of the buildings are built from.