When I arrived in Florida to find wet, cool weather, I did what any self-respecting Wisconsinite would do: I searched for a Badger State connection ... with a roof. What I found surprised me.
Turns out Florida Southern College's 100-acre, lakeside campus is the largest single-site collection of Wright buildings in the world. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012, the campus in Lakeland, Fla. – a bit southeast of Tampa – has a giant Wright-designed fountain, a recently built Usonian house (based on Wright plans from 1938) and some stunning buildings, all connected by a series of covered passageways perfect for strolling on blisteringly sunny days (as well as wet, cool weather, I found).
This web site offers a good history of the buildings, which were begun in 1938 and completed 20 years later.
You can find directions, tour information and other details at the Florida Southern web site. If you're not sure you want to visit, check out these images...
1. Benjamin Fine Administration Building interior
I did my own self-guided walking tour, so there were some buildings I couldn't enter, but I did pop my head into this building and was rewarded with this view of a bright, airy, instantly recognizable as Wright space.
2. Breezeway between admin buildings
This long open walkway between the Fine and Watson Administration buildings is, perhaps, the most lovely space of them all. The walls have great colored glass details and off in a side nook there's a peaceful fountain. Some offices look out into this green corridor. Lucky folks sit inside them.
3. Watson Administration Building glass
I mentioned this glass above. I bet it looks incredible at night, lit from inside. Or during the day seen from inside. Take a tour and find out.
4. Lucius Pond Ordway Building
This large building is low and with a number of passageways to explore. One leads to this...
5. Ordway Building cloister
Serene and relaxing, like a Zen garden.
6. Annie Pfeiffer Chapel
This chapel is the tallest building in the grouping and its elements have been integrated into the university's logo.
7. Pfeiffer Chapel interior
There are tons of details in this building, which is rich in motifs executed in cement and colored glass and there's some lovely wood touches, too.
8. J. Edgar Wall Waterdome
Once a year, for graduation, this large circular fountain's sprayers are turned up full blast to create a literal waterdome.
9. Danforth Chapel
This little chapel sits alongside the larger Pfeiffer Chapel and is as intimate as its neighbor is grand. It is also the only one that incorporates stained glass windows ... to incredible effect, as you can see.
10. Covered walkways
These are not just useful, they're beautiful and they create a comfortable vibe. You can also expect to see more than a few geckos underneath.
Check out some photos of Wright's gorgeous Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan girls school in Tokyo here.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.