The Rosenbaum House Is the Only Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Building in Alabama
Florence, Alabama, is home to many historic structures, but one in particular has become a destination for those interested in architectural history and the designs of the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s the Rosenbaum House, the only Wright-designed structure in Alabama. Originally built as a family home for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum, the house was a private residence for many decades and is now open to the public as a museum.
The Rosenbaum House was designed for newlyweds Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum, who commissioned Wright to design a home for their family. Stanley Rosenbaum’s parents gifted the couple a parcel of land on Florence's Riverview Drive near the Tennessee River, which was just across the street from their own home. Construction was completed in 1939, and according to the Rosenbaum House Museum, “The Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum House would be one of the earliest Usonian houses built, one of only 25 pre-war Usonians.” It was a single-family home for sixty years, and Mildred lived there until her death in 1999. At that time, the City of Florence acquired the house, and after a meticulous restoration, it began a new chapter as a museum.
The home, which is located at 601 Riverview Drive, has been included in the National Register of Historic Places. According to The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, “It remains one of the purest examples of the Usonian style, which Wright would spend much of his later career refining. Wright eliminated the basement and attic, embedded the heating system within the concrete floor to provide radiant heat, centralized the mechanical systems, built in the furniture and lighting.” It also emerges organically from its surroundings, an architectural ideal Wright mastered in structures such as Pennsylvania’s Fallingwater, perhaps his most well-known design.
The home is designed in an L-shape, and it incorporates natural materials, including native cypress wood. Brick and glass are also used throughout, with large paneled windows used strategically to maximize natural light throughout the day. When the Rosenbaums’ family grew, they returned to Wright and asked him to design an addition, which was seamlessly incorporated into the original structure in 1948. Cantilevered roofs top the structure, and Wright-designed motifs feature distinctively in the home’s design. Now the structure is both a time capsule and a glimpse into the minutely, artfully designed plans with which Wright is so closely associated.
You can learn more about the Rosenbaum House at wrightinalabama.org. There, you can also see a gallery with more photos of the site.
Which Frank Lloyd Wright sites have you visited? What’s your favorite of his designs?