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Journeys of Discovery: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Alabama architectural treasure

Thomas Wilmer
Frank Lloyd Wright's prototypical USONIAN residence in Florence, Alabama with its distinctive carport.

Sixty years after his passing, Frank Lloyd Wright remains America’s seminal architect. Born on the heels of the Civil War, Wright produced residential and commercial projects until his passing in 1959. A game changing commission was Wright’s Rosenbaum residence, built in 1939 in Florence, Alabama. Even though America was still in the midst of the Great Depression, visionaries like Wright and his clients, such as the Rosenbaum family, were taking the long view and did not let the economy stop them from dreaming and actualizing their visions.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at Wright’s Rosenbaum residence for a conversation with architect and Wright aficionado Robert Whitten for the rest of the story.

Whitten shares insights about how the Alabama home served as a trendsetter in Wright’s vision for affordable USONIAN homes across America, and speaks fondly of his lifelong relationship with the Rosenbaums and their home.

The Rosenbaumresidence is now owned by the city and it’s open year-round for public tours.

Wright was motivated to develop affordable housing for the common folk. Dubbed USONIAN (United States North America) homes, he predicated his designs on simple, cost effective building practices such as single story construction, concrete foundations, efficient square footage, no attics, no basements, radiant heating along with passive solar orientation, ample use of natural light and minimal interior walls.

This show is the fifth in a multi-part series showcasing Nashville's Big Back Yard--an economic and tourism initiative focused on rural destinations in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and Alabama's Shoals Region.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show,  Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, iheartRadio, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Underwriting support provided by The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and Honolulu based, Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative.

Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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