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Tour de Frank Lloyd Wright Madison

Madison, Wisconsin , United States
17 mi



ft elev +


This may be the best known Wright-designed building in Madison, but there are others if you know where to look.
During his lifetime, Wisconsin-born architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed more than 1100 buildings, of which about 530 were constructed, and over 400 still stand worldwide. There are ten Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the Madison area, nine within the city limits. This route visits the convention center, a church, and five houses.

The tour begins at Main Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, on the capitol square. The Monona Terrace Convention Center is at the southeast end of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Originally designed as a community center, it was not constructed until 1994, long after Wright's death. It retains Wright's original exterior design, but the interior was changed substantially to suit its function as a convention center. The route includes a look at the main level, and then loops around to pass under the center at lake level on a multi-use path.

The second stop is a private residence at the top of a hill, the Eugene Gilmore "Airplane" house. Built in 1908, it was a custom home designed in the prairie style.

The third building on the route is the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, built in collaboration with Marshall Erdman in 1949. [route note: Harvard Drive is not a dead end for bikes west of University Bay Drive.]

The fourth building on the tour is the Walter Rudin house, a prefab designed by Wright and built by Marshall Erdman in 1957. It has a full basement, which is very unusual for a Wright design.

The fifth stop is another residence, this one barely visible from the street. The Eugene Van Tamelen house is another Marshall Erdman prefab, built in 1956. It incorporates standard Andersen windows and Pella doors.

The sixth building is probably the most famous of the houses in Madison. The Herbert and Katherine Jacobs house on Toepfer Avenue is considered to be the first example of Wright's "Usonian" homes, designed to be affordable for middle incomes. Visible from the street is its carport, a term coined by Wright.

The last stop on the tour is a house only recently discovered to have been designed by Wright. The American System house, designed by Wright as an affordable kit home, was built as a model by local contractor John W. Groves & Son Co. in 1917.