April 18 and 19, 2015
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.
Historic Downtown Racine
Racine’s history has been well-preserved for all to enjoy. The Racine Heritage Museum is a great place to learn more.
In Monument Square you will find many markers telling of Racine’s early history. Also a Civil War monument in the center.
It’s noon! St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is ringing it’s bells. The whole downtown was chiming in fact.
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!
Got a snack at the Sugar Shack Sweet Shoppe in Monument Square.
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.
At this park is a Vets memorial and a historical marker as well.
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.
At Windpoint we visited a Bohemian Schoolhouse, a large part of Al’s heritage.
There is so much to see and do in Racine, well worth a visit. One day is not enough, so we spent the night at Knight’s Inn. It was economical to stay there and quiet.
We hope you enjoy your visit to Racine!
12-22-14 and 9-12-16
The Village of Johnson Creek was founded in June 1903. The first two settlers were Charles Goodhue and Timothy Johnson. Johnson also founded nearby Watertown a little to the north. The Chamber of Commerce is located on 417 Union St in the old downtown. To learn about the village’s past, the Johnson Creek Historical Society can provide information and publications. They are located on 110 Aztalan St. There are currently 2,738 residents living here. Most people in the Madison area know Johnson Creek by their large shopping center, The Johnson Creek Premium Outlets, built in 1998. It’s right off the exit on I-94, you can’t miss it! The stores are individual storefronts, not a mall so you just park where you want to shop. A great place to go for bargains!
Down below the mall is the Pine Cone Travel Plaza – Restaurant and Bakery. We ate lunch at this location for the first time. The other Pine Cone is in DeForest close to home. You can’t believe how big their bakery items are. The cream puffs are as big as plates! Also popular theme cookies, doughnuts and other pastries.
Across Hwy. 26 is Hi-Way Harry’s, a restaurant designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé James Dresser.
After lunch at the Pine Cone we continued to head toward the south side of Johnson Creek, the historic part of town. On the way, we find the Jefferson County Dog Park. It’s huge, with separate enclosed run areas for different-sized dogs.
Johnson Creek also has a historical marker at Rest Area 14, I-94 Westbound. Also a tribute to the prairies that used to cover Wisconsin long ago.
There is also a tribute to the military at Veteran’s Park downtown.
Also a monument dedicated to WWII Vets.
Also at the park is a monument dedicated to early businesses that provided a foundation to the fledgling village in its early history. The historical society was the main sponsor of the monument. It also has a time capsule, to be opened in 2054.
Another historic building is the former Gobbler Restaurant and hotel, long closed. Laurie ate there once but she don’t remember it. Good news though, the building has been bought and is going to become a music venue in 2016. We are so glad this landmark building is coming back to life again after being vacant 20 years. Enjoy the former Gobbler restaurant commercial.
We returned on 9-12-16 to see the new Gobbler, now called The Gobbler Theater.
Art in one of the windows, paying homage to the Gobbler Turkey.
Just south of here is the original downtown of Johnson Creek, when the railroad was center stage instead of Hwy. 94. The track is still in use but the train does not stop here any longer and is freight only. This is the railroad bridge in the heart of downtown.
Many of the historic original buildings are still here to see and occupied. This is the Bases Loaded Corner Bar, an 1893 building.
In the Community Center is Karate America, a great organization to teach karate and self confidence to both adults and kids.
Across the street from here is a row of historic buildings on Union St., looking north. The right-side is the Park Hotel building, built in 1895.
To the left of the park hotel building is Vintage American Collectibles. It used to be a bank building.
A close-up of the building on the far left.
At the end of the row across from Veterans Park is Tammy’s Pet Gooming and Supplies, in business since 1980.
Johnson Creek does have it’s own library as well.
Next to the library is a historic home made of the cream-colored brick characteristic of this area, built in 1893.
The rain begins as we finish our tour of Johnson Creek. We enjoyed exploring both the old and the new of this crossroads community with a great future ahead!
The Chazen Museum of Art is a great place to visit for fans of all kinds of art and no admission is charged. Photography is permitted for free also, flash use is prohibited and camera hand-held only. With advance notice, you can bring in a tripod and other equipment, or an easel of you want to paint your own painting!
This museum is also part of the University of Wisconsin campus. It originally was called the Elvehjem Art Center when it opened in 1970 and in 1978 changed to the Elvehjem Museum of Art. The adjoining new building was completed in 2011. Docents sometimes give tours to both small and large groups.
We have been here before for a music performance in 2013. A weekly event that was called “Live From the Chazen”, is no longer being performed. Today we were here to see the many art displays and we were impressed by the variety. Even the lobby (Paige Court) was beautiful, this is a view from the 2nd floor balcony.
We begin our tour in the Elvehjem building. Here are a few select pieces.
No art museum in Wisconsin would be complete without a few pieces by Frank Lloyd Wright, inspiration for Madison’s own Monona Terrace Convention Center.
This is his work, The Tree of Life, 1904
Even the catwalk joining the two buildings has art. This is
On the other side..
This is just a small sample of the many beautiful works of art here. You can browse the collections here on their website if you can’t see them in person. A great place to visit if you come to Madison.
9-27-10 / 3-9-14 / 6-29-14
This was our first visit to Spring Green in 4 years. An interesting fact, famous mural painter Richard Haas was born here. Not all of Spring Green’s attractions are downtown, several are outside of the main city. Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence is especially prevalent here, much more than his hometown of Richland Center. We have seen his work all over Wisconsin, but the most seem to be in this area. Taliesin is a major attraction in the summer months. we also stopped at the nearby Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center, not open until May also. If you wish to take a tour of Taliesin, you begin here. Frank Lloyd Wright was such an influence in Spring Green, there is a marker describing just that.
In the 1800s, this site has an interesting history. The Wisconsin River can be seen over the sign.
More of Wright’s work, the only school designed by him, now the Wyoming Valley School Cultural Art’s Center. Open in summer and fall.
A hotel was also designed by one of his apprentices, J.C. Caraway, The Usonian Inn.
The Theatrical Arts are also well represented in the area. American Players Theatre is performed on an outdoor stage, a very popular venue.
The White Church Theatre Project is a new addition to the theater scene, offering education in the theatrical arts.
As you might expect, many interesting and historic buildings are in Spring Green, many of them designed by Taliesin associates. The Round Barn Lodge and Restaurant and Hayloft Cafe catch the eye as you drive by on US 14. It was a 1914 Dairy Barn originally. Designed by Jim Pfefferkorn, 1973 and 1979.
Rite-Way Plaza was a former Philip’s station. Built of Limestone, designed by James Charles Mantooth, 1995.
These buildings are located on the Northside of town. We especially like this one. The business here is The Opal Man- Gallery of Opals. This unique building was a Johnson Oil gas station in 1926. This is the ONLY ALL- Opal jewelry gallery in North America.
On 242 N. Lexington is “The White School”, built 1877. This picture was from our 2014 visit.
Now we head to the downtown area for many more. This is a view looking west on Jefferson St, their “Main Street”.
The first stop is the Chamber of Commerce, which used to be a bank drive-up! It was designed by William Wesley Peters in 1975. You can pick up area information here, just go in.
Going a bit further down the street, also on the right, we see a medical building created to attract a physician to Spring Green in 1961.
Then we get to Nina’s which has been in Spring Green since 1916. The building’s facade is what it looked like in the 1920’s. The history is quite interesting, still in the family after 4 generations.
The Shed is part of the Post Block that was established in 1894.
This building was particularly impressive, it once was the Spring Green State Bank. Now, it’s Freddy Valentine’s Public House restaurant.
It was close to 11:00, so we headed back to the other end on the street and turned right on Albany St. These colorful buildings of the Albany Street Shops brightened up the dark day we had.
Across the street was our final destination of the day, the Spring Green General Store. We first discovered this store on our first visit here in 2010, they serve a great lunch in their cafe and we looked forward to another lunch here.
The interior of the store is bright and cheerful, here is the front of the cafe.
We ordered our food, owner Karin Miller came over to our table and greeted us. What a nice lady! She shared with us the many events that take place in Spring Green in the summer. It is a busy place! Then our food arrived, yum! Here is the Frito Pie we enjoyed on our first visit too. We returned June 29 for their Arts and Crafts Fair and enjoyed lunch again. Al had a Hummus Sandwich and I had an Italian sub, delicious!
As we concluded our visit, we planned on coming back soon. The next chance will be the Spring Green Arts and Crafts Fair the weekend of June 28 and 29, 2014.
We did make it back for the fair and had a great time! So many items that we wanted to get, but couldn’t at this time. At least we got contact information from the artists.
For a really great view of the Infinity Room at House on the Rock overlooking the Wyoming Valley, go to this Scenic Overlook. The address is 5945-5998 WI. Hwy 23 just outside of Spring Green. You exit off the highway in either direction and park in the lot. Then you walk a short trail to the overlook. What a great view. I was able to even see the people inside of the Infinity Room!
Spring Green has so much going on, we plan on returning often.
We got going shortly before sunrise to maximize the daylight available. Richland Center is in the “Driftless Area” of Wisconsin, untouched by the glacier. As a result, the town is nestled in a valley with large beautiful hills surrounding it. There was more fall color by then, and it was our last adventure of the year in the 70’s. Richland Center earned the distinctive name “Purple Heart Memorial City” in 2002 and has a yearly ceremony honoring those soldiers. It was also the birthplace of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Our first stop was the restored depot and Chamber of Commerce to learn where to find everything. Sherry Klatt and Bev Laue were ready to assist and provided us with all the info we needed on the town and county. They tell us Richland Center would welcome more new businesses in the area. Thanks so much!
We also took a look at the caboose behind the depot.
After that we explored downtown, the most distinctive building was designed by native Frank Lloyd Wright . It was the A.D. German Warehouse. It has been vacant for many years. It has just been bought recently and is being renovated.
The beautiful courthouse downtown.
If you need some remodeling done, Owners Travis and Andrea Wertz can help you, Wertz Floor and Home is at the Edward’s Block building . www.wertzfloorandhome.com
Former First National Band building, now a BMO.
For a good book and wine, stop by Ocooch Books and Libations.
The Brewer Library is another great place to check out a book. There you can also visit the History Room to learn more about Richland Center and county.
It was time for lunch! We went to a great place on 212 North Main St. called Gables. Gables closed 6-25-14. Good news, it is re-opening under new ownership March 16, 2016 with a new menu.
After lunch it was time for a hike on nearby Miner Hill, which overlooks the city.
To get there, go to the east end of Court St, park on the side of the road in front of the trail, Not this circle at the end of the street, but the roadside on the right looking down the hill.
The view of the city below was breathtaking! Center-left is the courthouse.
You could also see the warehouse roof from here. The noise I heard from below was someone doing work on the roof!
Close up view.
It was time to come down from the hill and view the Purple Heart Memorial before going home. The sight of all the flags and the beautiful monument is a fine tribute to soldiers of all the branches of military.
Richland Center is the Wright place to come for many activities for folks of all ages.
9-17-10 1:00 PM
The Monona Terrace was completed in 1997 after MANY years of the city debating whether to build it or not. It was originally proposed in 1938. They finally did, but at the expense of the mural that is at street level going under the building. The building is based on a Frank Lloyd Wright design. The tour began at 1:00, and I was the only person that day. It began at the gift shop. In 2015 it is $5 for a tour.
We went down to the large room where the indoor winter farmers market is held, along with other large events. Here is the room on a different day with an event going on. Its huge!
My guide showed me the Ballroom, appearing even larger due to it being currently empty.
The large windows are part of a room often used for wedding receptions. This one is on the lower level.
The upper level houses a similar room, but larger.
I also saw the auditorium where the radio show, “Whad’ Ya Know?” is broadcast LIVE on Saturdays.
We ended the tour on top of the huge patio overlooking Lake Monona. You can have lunch at the Grandview Cafe, open during the warmer months.
I had a very enjoyable tour of both the Capitol and the Monona Terrace that day.
- Monona Terrace renovations creating controversy (nbc15.com)
- Madison City Council member challenges need for new hotel to serve Monona Terrace (host.madison.com)
- Dane County Farmers’ Markets close this week (host.madison.com)