Spring Green, Wisconsin
Last month we took an overnight trip to Spring Green, Wisconsin. Its located just 40 miles west of Madison. The area is known as the River Valley (the river being the Wisconsin), and there’s a good mix of outdoor activities and culture in the community.
Spring Green has a population of just 1,600, and for a small town, its Main Street business district is varied with a number of quality shops and restaurants.
Nina’s is a throw-back to the days of Five & Dime Stores. It has everything from clothes to housewares to classic toys. We learned from the owner that Nina’s has been included on a list of the Greatest Five & Dime Stores still operating.
Just down the street is Arcadia Books, an independent bookseller with a great inventory. Their coffee shop had “scuffins” – a cross between a scone and a muffin. I really liked them.
Our hotel for the night was the Spring Valley Inn, a charming place with a Frank Lloyd Wright feel. The Inn was originally built as a visitor’s center for Taliesin by the architectural firm that Wright founded. We even had an old-fashioned room key instead of those plastic cards that most places use now.
Wisconsin is famous for its supper clubs so we tried out Arthur’s in Spring Green. They serve prime rib every day, and it was delicious.
This time of year, orchard and markets are in full swing. We stopped at Peck’s Farm Market on the edge of town to enjoy the pumpkins and other produce. They also keep animals and offer haunted houses and other Halloween fun.
Our main mission in traveling to Spring Green was to tour Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright. We opted for the grand 4-hour tour to see all the buildings and learn the complete back story. Our guide was Bill, and he was excellent.
Taliesin was Wright’s life-long home until his death in 1959. It was a working farm as well as an architecture school. The property was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019. The landscape around Taliesin features green hills and valleys. Wright’s family, the Lloyd Jones, lived in this area since the mid-1800s.
Taliesin no longer offers an architecture school, but the space and drafting tables are still in place. The floor is unusual in that it’s plywood turned on end, giving it a stripe effect. Plywood was just coming into use in the late 1920s, and Wright found several applications for it.
Wright tried out his architectural and engineering skills when he designed the Romeo and Juliet tower. The tower was built to pump water on the farm.
The milk house was located in the turret with a spire on top. A series of farm buildings behind the milk house were used to raise cows, chickens, and pigs.
The word Taliesin means “shining brow” and Wright built his home along the “brow” of a hill.
Below is Wright’s studio where he designed some of his most famous buildings, including Falling Water.
The Living Room features art from Wright’s Asian collection.
Taliesin is a worth-while visit on its own, but there’s lots more to see. We look forward to returning and exploring more of the area.