Surviving the tornado warnings (or was that watches)we woke up to a sunny day in Madison WI. I picked a perfect place to stop as we made our way west, since there is an gold mine of National Historic Landmarks in the area.
First stop is Herbert and Katherine Jacobs First House. This place marked Frank Lloyd Wright's first design of a Usonian home. This was Wright's vision of the future of America for architecture. A New World in Wright's eyes. Sounds scary or something out of the book 1984. The Usonian home were to be small, single story dwellings probably without a garage and limited storage. Instead of a garage Wright coined the word carport. The Jacobs First home (indicated there was at least a second) was constructed in 1937. This home resulted from a challenge from Herbert Jacobs to Wright to build a home for $5,000. He and his wife were good friends with Wright.
In Shorewood Hills (section of Madion) lies the First Unitarian Meeting House. This was a Wright commission however he also was a member of the congregation and his uncle was one of the founding fathers of this congregation. I wonder if he offered up the plans when they passed around the plate (do they still do that ?). It is the largest Unitarian Universalist congregation in the US. It was completed in 1951. In 1960 the American Institute of Architects designated it one of the 17 buildings to be retained as an example of Wright's contribution to American Culture.
I just liked the signage on this car wash and turned around to get a picture. Got into a conversation with the guys out drying cars off and they tried to talk me into a car wash.
The Harold C Bradley house was designed by Louis Sullivan with a major contribution by George Grant Elmslie. So who are those guys. Well Sullivan was the father of skyscrapers and a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. Actually Sullivan fired Wright because of the side work he was doing. Elmslie was Sullivan's chief draftsman and worked along side Wright. The house is now occupied by Sigma Phi Society (a frat house) at the University of Wisconsin. If this was Animal House this frat house would have to be Omega Theta Pi house because it was so neat and clean. Maybe they have been reminded that they are living in a National Historic Landmark.
Next up is the campus of University of Wisconsin for 3 National Historic Landmarks. First building on campus is North Hall, completed in 1851. John Muir, "Father of the National Parks" resided here went he went to school here.
The Science Hall is associated with Charles R Van Hise (he makes another appearance later on) who led the Department of Mineralogy and Geology at the school. Charlie brought us the 7 volume study of the Pre-Cambrian rock formations of Wisconsin. I guess you could say he "got his rocks off at UofWM". This is the building he taught in and was built in 1888.
Right down the street is the University of Wisconsin Armory and Gymnasium, "Big Red". Completed in 1894, it was built with 2 purposes in mind. It was built during the anti-capitalists insurrections occurring around the county (I wonder if they were the roots for the OccupyWallStreet movement)thus the first floor held military offices and artillery drill rooms. The second floor was big enough to hold a four column battalion. The third floor (you got your exercise just getting there) was the gym.
Right outside the gym was this site. At first I figured one of the construction trucks backed into it, but with the wheel up over the curb, maybe the student was in a rush to get to class from a late party night and just dropped it here to get to class.
Last stop in Madison (not for the day) is the Wisconsin State Capitol. Completed in 1917, it is the 5th building to server at the capitol. This is an example of the American Beaux-Arts architecture movement. I found this kind of neat because of the central dome and circle it creates and what I thought was 3 wings coming of that circle. Actually there are 4 wings.
We took the long way around Lake Mendola to get to Herbert and Katherine Jacob's second home designed by Frank. Really couldn't get any good pictures of the place without violating the current owners property rights. This was called the Solar Hemicycle and probably the first solar and earth home. Frank really was way ahead of his time.
Our final destination is my brother's house in Rochester, MN and only 230 or so miles away. We did get an early start and told my brother we would probably get to his place around 3. Seeing it is around 12:30 and we really haven't left Madison yet, we simply weren't gonna get there early. We headed due west (at least that was the right) and stopped in at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. Asked a couple of question about seeing Taliesin, finding out I could not simply do a drive by, so we had some lunch instead. It was during lunch that I decided to amend our trip home to hit this place again so we could take the tour (that should be a good write). The Visitor Center was a Wright design, built after he died and actually was designed as a restaurant. If you are out this way it is a pretty good meal, abit pricey, but that's what vacations are all about.
Time to head north and making a slight tilt to the eat Baraboo to visit the Ringling Brothers Circus Winter Headquarters, a National Historic Landmark. No need to explain why they are a landmark, because when I was a kid we always new they were going to be in the area. Being from Joisey, we went into New York City to see the Greatest Show on Earth. We must have gone to Radio City Hall to see the show. It was from Baraboo (what a perfect name for a circus town) in 1884 that the Bros began their first tour. Over the next six seasons they grew from a wagon show to a railroad show. This place remained the headquarters until 1918 merged with Barnum and Bailey, which they had bought in 1908. This place is the home of the Circus World Museum owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Last stop of the day is the Van Hise Rock in Excelsior, WI. This simply a rock out cropping on the side of Highway 136 (pretty nice roads out this way) and most people would miss it while driving right by it. I guess you would have to be looking for it to find it. I was looking. Its a chunk of quartzite that were marine sediments, mostly sands about 1.5 billion years ago during the Precambrian Era. Named for that guy Van Hise from the University of Wisconsin, this outcropping and surrounding rocks are great examples of old stones.
Having covered just a little over 60 miles of the 237 we have to go and being 4pm I called my brother to tell him we would be a little late.
Take advantage of the extended show and outtakes by CLICKING HERE
Todays direct path from Madison WI to Rochester MN