Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rosenbaum Home - The Only Frank Lloyd Wright House in Alabama


The only Frank Lloyd Wright structure to be built in Alabama is less than one mile from our house. I drive by it often but it has been over 10 years since I was inside. I first saw it when Mrs. Rosenbaum still lived there. At the time, parts of the house was in need of repair and I didn't see every room. This past weekend, our Memphis friend Joann was visiting and she and I took the tour.

The above photo shows the front of the house but it faces the back of the property. Wright designed it this way so that the back of the house, which faces the street, would be more private. Here is the view you see when you drive by - you'll notice that the windows are small and horizontal and are placed near the roof. The overhang that you see was a carport. Many vehicles today would be too tall to fit underneath.


The house was built by Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in 1940. Stanley Rosenbaum was from Florence and he met Mildred, a former model, in New York. Stanley's parents gave the newlywed couple 2 acres across the street from their home to build a house. They liked the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and wrote to him and asked if he would design their house. To their surprise, they got a response about 4 months later and he said "yes". Amazingly, Wright himself never visited Alabama. He sent an apprentice to supervise the construction.


The walkway that leads to the carport area and back entrance. Notice the statue of the sprite to the right.
The house is very small and the living room is the largest room. The windows look out over the back lawn. When the Rosenbaums first moved in, you could see all the way down to the Tennessee River. Today all you can see are trees. The furniture was also designed by Wright. The room to the back was Mr. Rosenbaum's study.
Mr. Rosenbaum's study with a desk designed by Wright. Mr. Rosenbaum was an English professor at the University of North Alabama. He had a huge collection of books and the couple requested lots of book shelves.


A dining area is located right next to the living room. The table runner was weaved by Mildred Rosenbaum.
Another view of the dining area facing the windows. The track lighting design is throughout the entire house.
The original kitchen was very tiny. Mrs. Rosenbaum did not like it and later requested that a new one be added when they added an addition to the house in the 1940s.

The stove in the new kitchen.
Pottery and other objects from Mrs. Rosenbaum's collection.
The Rosenbaum's had 4 sons and later asked Wright if he would design an addition to their house. This was the older son's room. Bunk beds are located on the far wall. A long window, to the right, overlooks the Japanese garden.
The Japanese garden
The view of the garden from the son's bedroom.
The Japanese garden is enclosed with a wooden fence.
Unfortunately, another tour prevented me from getting photos of the master bedroom and the younger son's rooms. Photographs are allowed but only at the end of the tour. All of the rooms are very small with very low ceilings. Wright was only 5'4" we were told and he designed houses to suit himself and not the client! Any addition or special request had to be approved by him and he sometimes said no. 

The tour is fascinating, with interesting stories about the Rosenbaum family and the house. If you are in Florence, do visit it.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

9 comments:

  1. Tulsa has a Frank Lloyd Wright house "Westhope." Someone keeps up the grounds but in recent years it is not occupied. I have posted photos of it a couple of times.

    http://historictulsa.blogspot.com/2009/06/frank-lloyd-wrights-westhope.html

    http://tulsagentleman.blogspot.com/2011/03/wordless-wednesday-doors-to-westhope.html

    I share your love of roses and enjoy your blog.

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  2. Phillip, How wonderful to have a FLW house in Alabama~The wood is still beautiful and the Japanese garden is a lovely. I would love to see it sometime and the garden you and Michael have created, too. gail

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  3. Living in Wisconsin, I have come to greatly appreciate the work of Frank Lloyd Wright... this is a lovely example... sometimes it's hard to say what is more interesting... Mr Wright's work or his life story! Larry

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  4. Living in Wisconsin, I have come to greatly appreciate the work of Frank Lloyd Wright... this is a lovely example... sometimes it's hard to say what is more interesting... Mr Wright's work or his life story! Larry

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  5. Fascinating tour, thanks for sharing it. Loved seeing the interior as well as the exterior. What a stove!!

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  6. Not only was Mr Wright's stature a factor in the design, I think people used to have smaller rooms etc. I wonder what he would do with the influence of people wanting larger and larger as they do now. Great tour. Love the Japanese garden. It looks good with this house.

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  7. I am SO intrigued by this - and other FLW homes. (His life story as well.)

    For some reason, I especially like this kitchen ... Small is increasingly attractive to me.

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  8. Amazing how Wright's architecture has stood the test of time. There are several of his houses here in the Midwest, and I've seen many of them, but never have taken a tour of the inside. I'm mad at myself that the last time I visited my daughter in Phoenix, I didn't take the time to tour Taliesin as I had planned. Now she's moved to Houston, and I may never get the chance!

    I didn't know about Wright's height; no wonder his homes have such low ceilings. Not sure I'd want to live in a house like this, but I would love that Japanese garden!

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  9. Fascinating...didn't know about this one. We visited Taliesin one year. That man had an ego beyond belief.

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