Yup. Home again. A quick two night wander in Minnesota and Iowa. The crazy thing about this wander? It was Ernie who suggested it. I was just saying to a friend that when I compare him to the Ernie that was in the hospital and so incredibly ill in April…it seems like a miracle. Who knows what the future holds but we are trying to savor these times when he feels good.

We set out on Wednesday and did highway driving for quite a while. Finally, we got off and headed toward Fountain City, Wisconsin. I had a map made with various stops on it but I didn’t go nuts researching or sticking to the map which made it relatively relaxed. Even though Ernie suggested this, he does get tired and my walking was terrible on this trip. That first day I pushed through it and walked a fair amount but I paid for it the rest of the wander. Damned if I know the best way to deal with this stuff.

I did have three stops we absolutely wanted to hit. The first was Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden, just north of Fountain City.

One the way we came across this delightful sign:

Our forecast sunny weather was nowhere to be found so my pictures (heads up—many of them are Ernie’s) are a tad dark.

We continued north and found Fountain City. I was utterly smitten.

True to the principles of the Prairie style, the Fugina House seems to grow from a wooded hill overlooking the Mississippi River. The two-story house is perhaps La Crosse architect Bentley’s most important work. In plan, it forms a cross so that sunshine can reach all the rooms. A one-story polygonal sunroom projects forward near the north end of the main facade. A flat roof with deep soffits turns from the sunroom to a small entrance pavilion tucked in an angle of the walls. The house’s emphatic horizontality comes from its wide eaves edged with rough-sawn cedar, long wooden sills trimming ribbons of windows, and a rectangular second-story balcony cantilevered from the north facade. Even the masonry is of long, flat Roman bricks with flush vertical mortar joints but deeply raked horizontal ones, an idea seen in houses by Frank Lloyd Wright. Bentley also installed geometric art-glass in the windows, dangled geometric pendants from the soffits, and hung copper screens in the south-facing porch. These elements tie the design to the Arts and Crafts movement, which held that even the most mundane parts of a home should be rendered beautiful with natural materials and good craftsmanship.
Wright’s influence is apparent throughout the house, especially inside. A long living-dining room spans the entire first floor, light pouring in through windows on three sides. An enormous fireplace of yellowish Roman brick dominates the room, recalling Wright’s maxim that placed the hearth at the center of family life. Clear-finished wooden banding runs eighteen inches below the ceiling in most rooms, conveying a human scale.
Bibliographic References:H. Allen Brooks, The Prairie School (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1972) p. 317. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript. Perrin, Richard W. E., Historic Wisconsin Architecture, First Revised Edition (Milwaukee, 1976).
Augustus Finklenburg House, 1854
I really love this one.

As the rain continued to spit here and there we finally got to the sculpture. It was so much more wonderful than I imagined. And God bless Kohler Foundation. It was just stunning. We were all by ourselves with wet grass, beautiful skies and glorious sculpture by Herman Rusch and others. Read a bit more about it here.

Eventually, after sitting at a table and soaking it all in, we headed across the river to Winona. More to follow about that. We found a local tavern and had a few drinks before picking up some take out and heading back to our motel.

The Hei N Low Tap (for Heileman and Lowenbrau). It was a good choice. And each time the bartender poured me a glass of wine it was a better pour so I’m hoping we passed muster.

Incredible first day for a wander.