"Wisconsin is my somewhere"
Originally published in INDUSTRIAL WISCONSIN, April 1930
I love Wisconsin because my staunch old Welsh grandfather with my gentle grandmother and their 10 grandchildren settled here nearby. I see the site of their homestead and those of their offspring as I write. Offspring myself, my home and workshop are planted on the ground grandfather and his sons broke before the Indians had entirely gone away. This Wisconsin valley with the spring-water stream winding down as its center line has been looked forward to or back upon me and mine from all over the world, as home. And I come back from the distant, strange and beautiful places that I used to read about when I was a boy, and wonder about; yes, every time I come back here it is with the feeling there is nothing anywhere better than this is. More dramatic elsewhere, perhaps more strange, more thrilling, more grand, too, but nothing that picks you up in its arms and so gently, almost lovingly, cradles you as do these southwestern Wisconsin hills. These ranges of low hills that make these fertile valleys of southwestern Wisconsin by leading down to the great sandy plain that was once the bed of a mightier Wisconsin River than any of us have ever seen. I doubt if that vast river were more beautiful then, however, than this wide, slow-winding, curving stream in the broad sand bed where gleaming sandbars make curved beaches and shaded shores to be overhung by masses of great greenery. Well, it is not
quite like any of the more important rivers of the world. It is more what specialists in scenery would call “picturesque.” It is, however, unique. And the Wisconsin red barn! Wisconsin barns are mostly all red, and everywhere make a feature of the landscape missing in most states. A farmstead here is somehow warmed and given life by the red of the barn as they stand about me over the green hills and among the yellow fields with the sun on them. And then Wisconsin is a dairy state. That means herds of pure Holsteins or Guernseys, or what have you, occupying the best ground anywhere around, making pictures that go with the one made by the red barn. Wisconsin, fond of passing laws, should pass another law compelling every farmer to paint his barn red. Another that will compel him to pasture his cows by the highway and his pigs back behind the barn. I’ve found out, too, that we are known
abroad as a “progressive” state. They know about Ross and Commons, Reinsh and Glenn Frank: names that help make Wisconsin scientific, agrarian and political to the outside world. The name of La Follette distinguishes our political history, I find, wherever I go. And I, too, always speak of Wisconsin as “progressive” when I talk about her away from home. Not understanding very well just what the word means, I suppose, any more than other Wisconsin people, in general, do. But that is what Wisconsin would be like anyway, and what she means to be. Which is most important after all. A good solid state, our state. Physically very beautiful, a veritable playground for humanity in summer as Arizona is in winter. Next to Wisconsin, “gathering of the waters,” Arizona, “arid son,” is my favorite state. Each very different from the other, but something individual in them both not to be found elsewhere.I am glad, too, “Wisconsin” is an Indian name. European people interested in architecture have learned to say “Wisconsin,” in Japan, in Germany, in Holland, Austria, and Switzerland more often probably than any other American name except “New York.” Just now on my table is Lloyd’s Reisebureau advertisement proposing excursions to America from Switzerland. The program is given by days, what is to be seen each day. When the “West” is reached, Dienstad und Mittwoch are to be devoted to the Landhausen Wright.Taliesin has received architectural pilgrims from all over the world. They have helped Taliesin a lot and the pilgrims have gone home and written in European newspapers and magazines and books, about America as they discovered it hidden away in a rural nook in southwestern Wisconsin. ...I love Wisconsin because of her Meiklejohn experiment at the university, whether it succeeded or not. And because of every sincere forward-looking experiment the state itself has ever made; because of her courage; her love of independence; her true belief in individuality as essential to immortality. I love her because she w