Visit to FLW Rosenbaum house

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robbhouston
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Visit to FLW Rosenbaum house

Postby robbhouston » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:49 am

Some friends of mine surprised me with a special treat while my wife and I were spending the weekend at their lake house near Florence Alabama. Without knowing where we were going, they drove us to a neighborhood near downtown. As we came over a hill, I was shocked with what came into view. An authentic beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright designed home, the Rosenbaum House. This home is a great example of FLW's Usonian House period. We walked around the exterior a while snapping pictures, then went inside for a tour (and more picture taking, which they generiously allow). It was a quiet day there, so it was just the 4 of us and the tour guide. What a work of art this place is. If you're ever in the area, I recommend a visit. Here's a few of the shots we took....

The street side of the house...
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The unbelievably deep overhang (that appears to be defying gravity) is actually a carport. Though at first sight, it seems to be more of a dramatic entrance.

The private side of the house...
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All those tall windows are actually doors that swing outword.

Here's the living room...
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The furniture in the foreground are all FLW designed, and are original to the house. Mrs. Rosenbaum donated nearly all their personal belongings when she sold the house to the city of Florence. In the background and to the right is the built in dinning table.

That's me standing in Mr. Rosenbaum's study....
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That is an original Eames chair to my left. There were several of them throughout the house....

Though I really do admire many different architects, I have to say that walking around inside a FLW home felt almost surrealistic. It was a wonderful experience. I think it also helped my wife understand why I obsessed so much over the renovation of our own little MCM home.

--Robb
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A little website I created to showcase my home and other MCMs in and around the Nashville TN area.

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Postby Joe » Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:32 pm


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Looks

Postby modfan » Mon Jan 22, 2007 3:35 pm

in much better condition than Taliesin West.

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Postby dentedvw » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:25 pm

I can only give you what I think you said you thought you wanted.

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Postby dentedvw » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:28 pm

I can only give you what I think you said you thought you wanted.

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Postby robbhouston » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:09 pm

http://www.nashvillemodern.com

A little website I created to showcase my home and other MCMs in and around the Nashville TN area.

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Postby Joe » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:30 pm


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Postby robbhouston » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:45 pm

http://www.nashvillemodern.com

A little website I created to showcase my home and other MCMs in and around the Nashville TN area.

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Postby egads » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:10 pm


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Postby SDR » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:35 pm

Image

This early photo is perhaps my favorite shot of any house I have ever seen. It looks to me like a wood and brick spaceship that has come down to grace the grass and trees and sky -- a perfect and original essay in the use of its most ordinary materials.

The 1948 additions doubled the size of the house and forever changed this view. The caption is Wright's (this photo was published in his "The Natural House" in 1954) and strikes me as odd, as he said earlier that he disliked the idea of a house having a front and a back. At least, he means here that the street side is the "back," making the private/glazed/view side the "front." This reversal was one of the accomplishments of the modern movement in residential architecture, with Wright of course leading the way.

Thanks for the visit report. SDR
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Postby johnnyapollo » Sat Jan 27, 2007 9:29 am

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
Philip K. Dick

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Postby classic form » Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:00 pm

I was there last month at 5 minutes to 4...just in time to watch them close up for the day. I had a flight out the next morning...looked nice from the front door though. Damn.

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Postby robbhouston » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:10 am

classic form: That's a shame. The tour guide lady was quite friendly and really seemed to appreciate the home herself. It took about 45min for the whole thing. That's probably why she didn't offer to let you in.

johnnyapollo: Definitely worth the trip. It even makes me look at my own home differently. So glad now I added more finished wooden surfaces (kitchen/bath doors/drawers, lighting enclosures, valances, etc...) while working on my place.

SDR: What a great photo. It's amazing how much the neighborhood has changed. The tour guide said there was a beautiful view of a valley and water out the living room windows that has long since been hidden by later construction and maturing trees.

egads: That's right, cypress. During the tour, she explained how they had to replace some of it when they did restoration work around 2000. The work was extensive due to water damage from years of roof leaks. According to a book I bought while there (they had a small table with just a few items for sale), the leaks had something to do with original installation (which Wright wasn't present during) of the Warecoat roofing surface. Wright's specifications were not followed exactly, and the Warecoat (mainly an insulator) ended up being used more like a water proofing system. The result were cracks, then leaks....nearly right from the very beginning. Crazy, huh?

Joe: Since I shellacked so much wood during my home renovation (using Bullseye Amber), I was dying to know what the interior (much of which had been either sanded and refinished, or replaced all together) was finished with. All she said was "some kind of stain". A little vague, for me... :( I asked about the FLW furniture (which she said was left exactly as found when the city bought the house, years of wear & tear, etc...), and she said it was finished with a light shellac. Cool..! I think you're right on regarding coloring. Originally a clear finish that's turned a bit orange over time.

Thanks everybody for all the responses to my post.. :)

--Robb
Last edited by robbhouston on Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby classic form » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 am

It was a bit disappointing but I did get a chance to drive around a bit. That gave me the opportunity to see the famous "Muscle Shoals" studios.

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Postby SDR » Sat Apr 21, 2007 9:57 am

Belated note to Robb's comment on interior dynamics of the Rosenbaum house. The low and tight hallways were intentional, as part of Wright's scheme to dramatize the sequence from hidden or suppressed entry to emergence into the big space. Of course he had to make the exterior work, but it was the interior space (he said) that was the essence of his architecture.

If he had been taller, the spaces would have been a little more generous -- or so he wrote. I suspect he was trying to stretch every building budget by trading square footage for some of his favorite extravagances, like broad roof overhangs, extensive use of cabinet-grade woods, and lots of glazed doors.

Thanks again for your visit report and photos !

SDR :cheers:
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Postby googieagog » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:39 pm


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Postby SDR » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:25 pm

Those color photos at the top of the page show what a Usonian house can look like, when the owner (or his successors) ignores Wright's "formula" for wood finishes: "Wood best preserves itself" ! No way can you get wood to look like that, inside or out, without some kind of surface treatment (aqnd in the case of the exterior, repeated treatments.

Is it worth it ? It sure looks that way to me ! (Easy for me to say; I live in rented quarters, and prefer the paint that was here when I moved in ! )

SDR :cheers:
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Postby robbhouston » Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:31 am

http://www.nashvillemodern.com

A little website I created to showcase my home and other MCMs in and around the Nashville TN area.

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Postby classic form » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:49 pm

Well, I made it back to Alabama and made the time to go through the house today. I was the only one for the tour which was kind of nice to wander around the interior without jockying for position. If it wasn't 103 degrees she (docent) would have walked me around the exterior as well. Didn't have a camera with me which can be good and bad if you know what I mean. Still can't get over how narrow the doorways are (20 inches). I could live there. Highly recommended. Go now.

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Postby SDR » Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:42 pm

Thank you !

I've been spending time over at Wright Chat -- interesting for Wright nuts like me, I suppose. At its worst: duelling Wright owners/restorers !

SDR :cheers:
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Postby classic form » Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:50 am

I've been eaves dropping at Wright chat just for the pettiness. I don't have time to watch soaps so this kind of fills the void. I've even started a couple firestorms myself over there:)

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Postby SDR » Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:09 pm

Yes -- we noticed :roll: . . .

Just kidding. Any port in a storm, sez I. Ya show whut ya brung, as they used to say at low-rent old-car meets. . .

Someday there will be a way to transmit from one person to another the sensations of a particular experience: how it *felt* to move toward and into a house, and through and around and in and out.

I made a tentative and unsatisfactory attempt to apply color to that old photo above. Wish I had had Robb's juicy color photos to inspire me !

SDR
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