Beyond the Administration Building that third generation SC Johnson leader H.F. Johnson Jr. commissioned with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1936, he gave Wright a more personal task, too – a new house for his family.
Completed in 1939, the home was named Wingspread, reflecting its four wings that spread out from a central core living space.
Wright called Wingspread “the last of the Prairie houses,” and its 14,000-square-foot footprint makes it the largest of the Prairie homes as well.
The use of Kasota limestone, brick, stucco and unstained wood help anchor the house to the earth, while its 30-foot-high chimney and many windows lift it toward the sky.
Wingspread beautifully interacts with 30 acres of prairie, woods and ravines that surround it.
Its remarkable features include its teepee-inspired clerestory ceiling, five fireplaces, the cantilevered “Romeo and Juliet” balcony built for H.F.’s daughter, and a glass-enclosed “crow’s nest” lookout, from which H.F.’s children could await his return home.
The Johnson family lived at Wingspread through the 1950s and then donated it to The Johnson Foundation to be an enduring source of inspiration as an educational conference facility.
Wingspread was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
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Wingspread photos: Mark Hertzberg for SC Johnson.