The Lewis Spring House is best known for being one of only two pod-shaped houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the only private residential home in Florida designed by the famous architect. What’s more, this unique residence is directly tied to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
The house was designed for George Lewis, president of the Lewis State Bank, and his wife Clifton Lewis. Both were local activists and promoters of the arts in Tallahassee. Built in 1954, Lewis Spring House is a unique example of a pod-shaped residential structure, with convex walls making the home look oddly like a boat or a football.
The interior is a strong contrast of enclosed spaces and an open main living area. The living area is separated from the outside only by a series of massive windows illustrating Wright’s preference to emphasize a connection between his structures and their natural environment. Interestingly, the home is also technically incomplete; it’s missing elements that were in Wright’s original design, such as a semicircular-shaped pool.
The home is also something of a living history museum, as one of the Lewis’ children, Byrd Lewis Mashburn, resides there and actively participates in tours of the property put on by the Spring House Institute. She freely offers stories to her guests about her childhood experiences in the house, which played a role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s. George Lewis was appointed chairman of President John F. Kennedy’s Florida Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and held political meetings in the home.
Unlike many other Wright properties, the Lewis Spring House shows its age, and has suffered some damage over the last 60 years. Despite this, the home’s character is still clearly visible and offers a wonderful experience for those who can see past its rougher edges.
Know Before You Go
The Lewis Spring House is located in a neighborhood off of N. Monroe St./US 27, just north of Exit 199 on Interstate 10 in Tallahassee. The house is open for public tours on the second Sunday of every month and costs $15 per person. Personal tours are also available by appointment and require a $50 reservation donation, and an additional $25 for each person in a group. Parking is on the street in front of the house and can get crowded due to limited availability.
The Spring House Institute is a nonprofit whose goal is to restore the home, complete the original design, and maintain it as a public center for the arts, democracy, and education. It is looking for public assistance in the form of donations as well as volunteers who wish to be more actively involved in the home's preservation. Those interested can contact the institute to participate in a work day on the property every fourth Saturday of the month.