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Education

New Frank Lloyd Wright building opens at Florida Southern

TBO.com staff
Published:   |   Updated: October 31, 2013 at 12:01 PM

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Florida Southern College, home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, will open another structure designed by the famed architect Friday — 54 years after his death.

Wright’s Usonian House was designed in 1939 but wasn’t built until this year using blueprints left by Wright.

It will serve as a tourism and education center on the Lakeland campus.

The college plans an open house at 7:30 p.m. Friday, when a bronze statue of Wright will be unveiled. There are 13 structures on campus designed by Wright, who died in 1959.

Wright envisioned the house as the home of a professor, but it was never built due to the Great Depression and World War II.

Wright used the term Usonian — short for United States of North America — to describe his vision for a typical American family home: affordable, single-level residences with little storage built with native materials. About 60 have been built.

This one, the college’s first Wright structure in 55 years, uses nearly 2,000 interlocking textile blocks that create 47 shapes, with about 5,000 stained-glass inserts as well as built-in furniture. It includes a living room, two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen area and utility room.

The 1,700-square-foot building was paid for using an undisclosed contribution from FSC alumnus and former trustee Robert R. Sharp, along with $1 million from Polk County and $500,000 from the city of Lakeland.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center, at 750 McDonald St., between Johnson and College avenues, includes a gift shop. For information, call (863) 680-3000.

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