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More than 1,000 turn out for first Open House Racine County

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Fireplace at Wingspread

Wingspread,

designed in 1938 by Frank Lloyd Wright for the H.F. Johnson Jr. family, was one of several places open for free tours on Saturday during the inaugural Open House Racine County.

RACINE COUNTY — More than 1,000 people from Racine County and around the region — and possibly from outside the region — turned out for the inaugural Open House Racine County on Saturday.

According to preliminary estimates, about 1,100 people attended the free daylong celebration of interesting places, architecture and local history, said Dave Blank, president and CEO of Real Racine, the county’s convention and visitors bureau, which organized the event.

The open house included more than 40 sites, including the Wind Point Lighthouse grounds, Racine Art Museum and Charles A. Wustum Museum, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings at the SC Johnson campus, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Wind Point, and several historic and architecturally significant area churches.

Other venues and locations included The Journal Times, WRJN and 92.1 The Shore radio stations, Earthcare Suri Alpacas in Rochester, AEppelTreow Winery & Distillery near Burlington, Batten International Airport Terminal Building, and Racine City Hall, where visitors got a chance to tour Mayor John Dickert’s Office.

Inspired by similar events in nearby cities, such as Doors Open Milwaukee and Open House Chicago, the aim of Open House Racine County was to draw in visitors by showcasing Racine County’s treasures, while also expanding and enhancing residents’ knowledge about the area where they reside, Blank said.

Some sites were open for the entire length of the event — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — while others, like Wingspread, had more limited access hours.

Some of the more popular sites included Christmas House Bed and Breakfast, 116 10th St., Racine, which had 386 visitors; Lochnaiar Inn, 1121 Lake Ave., Racine, which saw 419 people; and Wingspread, which was only open for two hours, Blank said, but had 369 visitors during that time.

Historic Milwaukee Inc., which runs the Doors Open Milwaukee event and helped Real Racine to organize its event, estimates that the average participant visited 4.5 sites, Blank said.

Eventually, organizers would like to see Open House Racine County grow to feature about 100 sites and offer access to more area manufacturing businesses.

Real Racine doesn’t know yet where all of Saturday’s visitors came from — how many were from Racine County, for example, and how many from other parts of the region or state — but is presently crunching those numbers, Blank said.

Although the overall turnout wasn’t as high as organizers had initially hoped for, Blank said some expectations were met.

“Maybe I set the sights too high. I was hoping maybe for 5,000 people. But I was thinking that the big sites would see 400 or 500 people, and the big sites saw around 400 people,” Blank said. “We didn’t see a lot of people that stayed overnight, but I think we will end up with a really good percentage of people from outside Racine County.”

“We didn’t see a lot of people that stayed overnight, but I think we will end up with a really good percentage of people from outside Racine County.”

—Dave Blank, president and CEO of Real Racine

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