During the Spring of 2018, I received my monthly newsletter from the Lake Shore Region of the LCOC-the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club. I’ve been a member since 2015. From April through October, there are many club events for the region, which consists of greater Chicagoland, and adjacent parts of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. What caught my eye was a planned June 16th trip to the S.C. Johnson Company’s headquarters, famously designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed between 1936 and 1939, and its adjacent Tower, completed in 1950.
I’ve always been a fan of Wright’s designs, and so has my dad. Due to that, I’d seen many pictures of the Johnson Wax Headquarters over the years. I even got a book of my own on the Tower a few years ago, detailing its history.
I’d known that tours were available, and the idea of driving up had been rattling around in my brain for several years, but this was perfect. All I had to do was RSVP and be at there at ten o’clock, sharp.
A lot of club members had the same idea, because upon arrival at the Golden Rondelle Theater (said building designed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and moved to Racine after it ended), there were easily three dozen people there. They needed three separate groups and tour guides to get everyone under way. I wound up in the second group. We immediately set off for Fortaleza Hall, built in 2010 and housing a replica of the Sikorsky S-38 H.F. Johnson, Jr. flew to Brazil in 1935. This plane, a fully restored version built identical to the original, was flown by Sam Johnson back in 1998, in a recreation of the ’35 journey. Interior photography is not permitted on tours, but I was able to get a shot of the plane through the wall of glass that makes up most of the exterior of the building.
Naturally, the big draw is the administration building and, of course, the tower. After leaving Fortaleza Hall, the Administration Building was our next stop.
I took lots of pictures. One, because my dad couldn’t go that day and I kept texting him pictures as our tour progressed, and two, I was agog at this cool place.
I mean, just look at it. Coolness everywhere.
Of course, the major draw is the tower itself. So smooth, so modern, even today.
After touring the Johnson headquarters, we all drove to lunch at a ’50s style restaurant uptown. The food was good, and we had quite a crowd at our table. And then it was time to mosey on over to Wingspread.
While the other club members were going to check out a lighthouse after lunch, I had passed a Lincoln dealership earlier and wanted to check it out, so I told them I’d meet them at Wingspread at the appointed time. I arrived a little bit early, and all I could see of the estate was a Cherokee Red gate, sign and call box. I pushed the button and said, “Uh, yeah, I’m with the Lincoln club for the tour, am I in the right place?” I was, and the nice lady on the other end opened the gate for me. So myself and the Town Car eased on in to Prairie style classic luxury. It was like an episode of Dynasty, ha ha.
As with the Johnson headquarters, unfortunately we could not take interior pictures, but I more than made up for it with exterior shots. The interior of this mansion was amazing and beautiful. If you are ever in the greater Racine area, I highly recommend taking a tour. They can be arranged via the S.C. Johnson website.
What a gorgeous home. And for the foreseeable future, it will be preserved, and folks like you and me can check it out and just stand there in silent awe.
Highly recommended. Please visit, if you’re ever in the neighborhood!
Part II will consist of the many classic Lincolns that attended this event. I was already straining the post with pictures on this one! Until next time!