Frank Lloyd Wright collection at Florida Southern
The campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland -- in the architectural world, it's known as "Child of the Sun." That's the name given to the group of buildings here designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture on one site, for one client -- 13 structures in all.
And while most of them have been here for years, one is new: A 1939 design of a two-bedroom, one-bath home being used as faculty housing. The plans were found in the archives at Florida Southern but it had never been built.
"A proposed plan that wright designed in 1939. They attempted to get funding for it, but it just never happened," docent Brian Renz explained. "None of them were ever built. They were planning to build between 14 and 19 of these similar homes. Again, none of them were built."
So, how did all this happen? Who talked Frank Lloyd Wright into this? Dr. Ludd Spivey. He was president of Florida Southern from 1925 until 1957. And he had a vision.
"He was looking for a star," Renz continued. "He was looking for the world's most famous architect to put the campus on the map."
So, from 1938 until 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright designed and oversaw the building of "Child of the Sun." All of those buildings are still here today.
All of them are still spectacular, and keeping them that is a full time job.
"Maintaining the buildings is extremely difficult. And the college does require outside professional expertise to do that. We have restoration architects who are nationally known experts."
Frank Lloyd Wright was not a tall man, and the campus reflects his perspective. The walkways that connect the buildings and the esplanades have low ceilings.
And there are stories. Renz recalled the time the owner of a Frank Lloyd Wight home called to say his house was leaking.
"Got on the phone and said, 'I'm having a banquet with all my friends and it's leaking on my chair. What should I do?' and Wright said, 'I'd move your chair.'"
Florida Southern College has tours of its Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. It's a great place to take out-of-town guests, especially those from Chicago and Wisconsin.
Wright was born in Wisconsin. Much of his work is in that part of the country. They claim him as their own, but you can always say Florida Southern in Lakeland has the largest Wright collection on one site for one client.