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Rosenbaum House
Wfm rosenbaum house interior.jpg
The living room
Location 601 Riverview Dr., Florence, Alabama
Built 1940
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Architectural style Usonian
Part of McFarland Heights
NRHP reference No. 78000492
Added to NRHP December 19, 1978

The Rosenbaum House is a single-family house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in Florence, Alabama. A noted example of his Usonian house concept, it is the only Wright building in Alabama, and is one of only 26 pre-World War II Usonian houses. Wright scholar John Sergeant called it "the purest example of the Usonian."

History

In 1938 newlyweds Stanley Rosenbaum (a professor at Florence State Teachers' College) and his wife Mildred were given a building lot and funds to build a house in Florence, Alabama. Both had read Frank Lloyd Wright's autobiography and a cover story on Wright in Time magazine. The Rosenbaums took up residence in September 1940 and the first photographs of the house were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City the following month. This house was also the childhood home of notable American film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Restoration

The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It remained in the Rosenbaum family until 1999 (when Mildred Rosenbaum moved into a nursing home), longer than any of Wright's other Usonian clients. By this time the house was in poor repair, with extensive water penetration and termite damage. The Rosenbaum family donated the house to the City of Florence and at the same time sold the furniture and contents of the house to the city for $75,000. The city spent a further $600,000 on repairs, using original plans sent by the archives of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation at Taliesin West. The Wright Archive is currently the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library of Columbia University in New York City. The city opened the house as a public museum, the Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House, in 2002. The museum displays some of the original Wright designed furniture, and won the 2004 Wright Spirit Award in the Public Domain from the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Mildred Rosenbaum was the first recipient of the Wright Spirit Award for her tireless efforts through the Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House Foundation. In her last five years in residence, which ended in 1998, nearly 5,000 visitors received personal tours conducted by Mrs. Rosenbaum, who died in 2006.

Architecture

The Rosenbaum House was the first of dozens of Wright's Usonian houses based on the 1936 Usonian prototype Jacobs House in Madison, Wisconsin. The house was built on a 2-acre (8,100 m2) plot at 117 Riverview Drive (now 601 Riverview, after renumbering), on the north bank of the Tennessee River. Built in an L-shape, the house is made from natural materials, largely cypress wood and brick, and features multilevel low-rising steel-cantilevered roofs covering both the living spaces and an adjoining carport. A distinctive feature of the house is its glass; USA Today described it as "blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors." Most of the rooms have their own door to the outside. The center of the house is the "service core", built around a large stone hearth and adjacent to a 100 square foot (9.3 m2) study.

The original Usonian floorplan provided 1,540 square feet (143 m2) of living space, but when the Rosenbaums had their fourth child they asked Wright to design an extension to the now cramped house. His modifications, completed in 1948, added a further 1,084 square feet (100 m2) in a second L-shape.

Rosenbaum House Rear Pano
Street-side view of the Rosenbaum House. Two cantilevered roofs can be seen.
Rosenbaum House Front Pano
Yard-side view of the Rosenbaum House.

Recognition

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places individually, and also as a contributing building in the McFarland Heights historic district.

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