In 1960, architecture critic Peter Blake wrote that “[Frank Lloyd] Wright built four structures of a beauty unexcelled in America before or since.” One of them was the single-family Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama.
The only Wright building in Alabama, the house was built for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in 1940. Mildred would live here until 1999, at which time the structure was donated to the City of Florence. The house is often considered the purest form of Wright’s Usonian style, a middle-class aesthetic developed following the turmoil of the Great Depression.
Usonian (a partial acronym for United States of North America) homes were intended to be functional, affordable, and in tune with their surroundings. Horizontal lines and natural materials connect these structures to the land around them. Usonian homes also have plenty of glass windows, low-rising, cantilevered roofs, and an overhang for sheltering parked vehicles that Wright called a carport. The interior is constructed around an open living space with a central kitchen and there are many built-in bookshelves and storage spaces. It’s all very cozy.
The Rosenbaums eventually had four sons, and asked Wright to design a much-needed extension several years after moving in. In 1948, an addition that included more sleeping arrangements and a Japanese garden was added, making Rosenbaum House the first Usonian to be significantly altered. Although such an interference may alarm some Wright devotees and architectural purists, Wright was thrilled. The fact that the building was flexible enough to be sensibly extended was, to him, a triumph of practicality.
Know Before You Go
Parking is across street in school parking lot. Do not park on street. Admissions office and gift shop across street in school building.