FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - If you know where to look, a house inFlorence offers a rare peek at the work of an architectural giant.
One look at the house and you know somethingis different. Local architect Bob Whitten was a friend to the sons of owners Stanleyand Mildred Rosenbaum, who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build the house.
"This house was designed in '39 and wasfinished around the fall of 1940," explained Whitten. He spent time here as aboy. Stanley's parents lived across the street.
Wright had several "must-haves" which he woveinto the fabric of the house and the property. "Wright was asked to shift thehouse a little bit on the property so that the parents' home could still seethe river," said Whitten.
"I believe there were four specific requeststhey made of Wright," he continued. "One was that Stanley had a study."
'Usonian' homes were for middle-class people,with no basements or attics and little ornamentation, a precursor to the "ranch-style"home. "The Usonian concept, in simple English, is to eliminate the unnecessary,"said Whitten.
That definition is clear when you see thesize of the rooms, such as the living room. It is not large. "But it is ample,"said Whitten. "The original house was about 1,500 square feet, and the additionin 1948 added another 1,000."
The bedrooms are also small by today'sstandards. Closets were pulled out, looking more like furniture. Anotherbedroom was used by Mildred for her weaving hobby. "This was a three-bedroom,two-bathroom house. Another specific request that the Rosenbaums had was toprovide a master bath. In 1939, that was not common," said Whitten.
As the family grew, Wright designed theexpansion and the dormitory that was built in 1948. Whitten described theaddition as "back to utility and no wasted space." Whitten said the first thingyou notice about the house are the clean lines, "extremely straight, andsomething Wright was known for. The horizontal look was Wright's attempt tokeep man low with the earth, to blend man with nature."
Whitten said the back of the house actuallyfaces the street and the front faces nature; it is a concept Wright made intoreality, well ahead of his time in Bobby's Bama.