Great Lakes 2005 – The 4th Day

Taliesin East

The fourth day of my trip was one of the overall highlights.

I got up very early because a substantial forage into the “back country” of Lake Michigan was on the agenda. Near Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, lies Taliesin East, one of the most important buildings designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

From Milwaukee, it’s a two hour drive. The first hour, I progressed swiftly along the interstate between Milwaukee to Madison, roughly two thirds of the journey, distance wise. The remainder took me along small country roads and also presented me with a minor challenge in the form of my first detour on US American roads. You might smile at this, but you must know that this was before GPS systems became accessible or affordable for the humbler traveller.

Wisconsin River Valley

I was more than compensated for the long drive by the beautiful scenery I was driving through. The Wisconsin River valley is marvellous! On the picture you can see a side arm of the valley. Basically, the area reminded me a lot of the rolling hills in Bavaria where I grew up. In Wisconsin, everything is just on a much larger scale and the woods are still a lot denser.

No matter how long the drive was, Taliesin is well worth the trouble! And the same applies to the somewhat expensive entrance tickets. Taliesin can only be visited as part of a guided tour. I decided on the two hour “House Tour” which gives an excellent idea of the history of Taliesin. All guided tours start in the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. If you come from Highway 14 from the direction of Madison, you have to turn left before Wisconsin River on country road C (the route is indicated by signs from Highway 14).

Taliesin East (there is another Taliesin, Taliesin West, in Arizona) was built between 1911 and 1959, the year Frank Lloyd Wright died. Consequently, it is Frank Lloyd Wright’s longest-lasting building project. The most significant changes followed two fire catastrophes in 1914 and 1925. The site comprises living quarters, an office, a workroom, a farm and several other buildings.

Taliesin East

The name Taliesin reminds us of Frank Lloyd Wright’s family’s Welsh heritage. It translates as “shining brow”.

Taliesin is used by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and some members of this foundation live there on a temporary basis. Moreover, Taliesin East hosts lectures on architecture. The students also live at Taliesin. What a privilege!

On the pictures you can see a part of the wonderfully tended gardens surrounding the main building.

Gardens

Gardens

The very particular architectural style for which Frank Lloyd Wright is famous can be observed at every corner, as you can see from the pictures which show the different levels the roofs create.

Roofs

Roofs

There was so much to see and admire that time flew by. The small red bus which transported us back to the visitor centre was already waiting at the foot of the hill and so only a few minutes remained to cast a look back at this amazing piece of great architecture.

Gardens

For currently available tours, please check the website: www.franklloydwright.org or directly at www.taliesinpreservation.org/tours/tours.htm.

Taliesin

As I had already progressed so far west, I HAD to allow myself another small detour: The quilt shop Quiltessentials in Reedsburg (ca. 20 miles north of Taliesin) is beautifully organized! There are entire rooms dedicated to one single colour, i.e. there is a room with blue fabrics, one with red fabrics, one with yellow fabrics. Reedsburg has ca. 12,000 inhabitants while Quiltessentials say that they have over 15,000 bolts of fabric in their shop. This means, on average, more than one bolt of fabric per inhabitant. Munich has 1.3 million inhabitants... Wouldn’t it just be great to have a law on a minimum of bolts of fabric per inhabitant... Well, perhaps better not... ;-)

Reedsburg

This very long day trip ended on the shores of Lake Winnebago. Compared to Lake Michigan, this lake seems to be no more than a smudge of ink on the map. The thunderstorm which you can see on the picture turned out not to be merely a thunderstorm, but the remainder of a small tornado which had done quite some damage not very far away. Luckily, I only learnt about that when I had arrived safely at the motel in Chilton watching the news on television. Otherwise, I would probably have been a tad nervous while driving... ;-)

Tornado


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