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Johnson Wax administration building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Racine, Wisconsin

getaway-chicago logoThe Getaway Guys had been there before, but couldn't remember when or why. This time they were looking for a commercial source for ornamental grasses, and one possible source was supposedly Mileagar's Nursery (262-639-2040) in Racine, Wisconsin. So with a map, some vague directions and their enthusiasm for gardening, they headed across the border to find not one, but two well kept secrets; Mileagar's and the new Racine.

racine1Located north of downtown Racine on Wis. 32 (Douglas Ave.), Mileagar's has seemingly everything at very reasonable prices, or so Neil thought. Alan agreed about the variety, but thought he might get the same stuff for less elsewhere; "like maybe Minnesota," Neil muttered under his breath. With Alan finally satisfied with his frugal purchases, the Getaway Guys headed down nearby Four Mile Road for a look at the Wind Point Lighthouse. Built in 1880 and 112' high, Wind Point isn't open to the public but a visit to view this majestic structure is worth the small effort. About half way between Mileagar's and Wind Point on Four Mile Road is Wingspread (262-681-3353), the former Johnson family home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright now open to the public on a limited basis and by reservation.

Moving from the north side to downtown Racine, the Getaway Guys lunched at The Yellow Rose (262-637-4340). Located at 340 Main St. and occupying a rehabilitated space once used as a pharmacy, The Yellow Rose serves both lunch and dinner in a setting that preserves much of the buildings former character. Good food, excellent service and an interesting atmosphere.racine2

A block south and opposite The Yellow Rose at 411 Main, is RAM (Racine Art Museum , 262-638-8300). A former bank once robbed by John Dillinger in the '30s, but now a very spiffy and up-to-date museum largely devoted to contemporary crafts, RAM is worth a Racine trip by itself. The Getaway Guys enjoyed the exhibition spaces and really grooved on the Museum Store (one of the best around). A short drive from RAM on Northwestern Ave. is the Wustum Art Museum (262-636-9177), another worthwhile stop in the new Racine. Further south on Main, between 11th and 14th Streets, mid- to late-nineteenth century dwellings in excellent repair can be seen. Two interesting bed and breakfasts, The Lochnaiar Inn (262-633-3300) and Christmas House (262-633-0014), are there.

West on 14th at Franklin is the Golden Rondelle Theater, the Johnson Wax Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. racine3Dismantled and shipped to Racine after the Fair and altered to better fit its present site adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Company Administration Building, the Golden Rondelle looks better today than it did in '64, but still has a '60s Flintstone flair. Alan liked it, Neil thought it looked like a beached clam. Wright's 1939 Administration Building (262-260-2154), an icon of American modern architecture, is open to the public on Fridays and a reservation is required. The Getaway Guys were struck by the diminutive scale of Wright's design. More accustomed to sprawling corporate complexes both commented on its delicate appearance.

The accessibility of Wingspread and /or The Johnson Wax Company Administrative Building precludes a weekender in Racine, but a Friday-Saturday combo might work, unless week days are free. At different phases in their lives the Getaway Guys have visited both Wright sites and found them well-worth the short drive from Chicago. The other Racine attractions were new to them and a further incentive to suggest this Getaway destination. September 2006

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