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<h1>Spring House in Tallahassee, FL</h1>

Some houses are so unique they seem to have a soul. You feel it when you first look at them. You feel it even more when you step inside. Since houses are just bricks, wood or stone, that soul must come in part for the architect who designs the house and in part from those who envision it  and make it their home.

Spring House in Tallahassee had plenty of soul to choose from in both cases. When we first drove up to it, you could see all the Frank Lloyd Wright trademarks.  Frank Lloyd Wright homes never just sat on the landscape; they are part of that landscape.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring House is no exception. It blends so well with the surroundings it might have magically grown there.  At first glance it looks like a boat. It sits hidden from the road by a sea of greenery. Spring House is one of only two pod houses and one of eleven Hemicycle Houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the only Florida private residence he designed.

We were met at the door by Byrd Lewis Mashburn, the daughter of the family who first envisioned the Spring House. Her parents, George and Clifton Lewis, wanted a unique house where their four children could grow up with more grounds and a healthy environment; a house with a soul.

Byrd Lewis Mashburn with drawings in the living room of  Spring House fireplace at Spring House in Tallahassee, FL
Byrd shows us Spring House  Unique circular fireplace 

The Lewises met Frank Lloyd Wright at Florida Southern University. They had been thinking of building a house and Clifton asked Frank Lloyd Wright if he would design it. She told him “We have a lot of children and not much money." He agreed and instructed them to "Go find your ground, not on a lot."

It took them about a year to find the perfect setting, Five acres with a bubbling spring on it in a unpopulated area near Tallahassee. (They later acquired an adjourning five acres) Wright designed the house based on the land in 1952. It took the Lewises a few years to find a contractor because the house was so unique. With the help of Frank Lloyd Wright they hired Jack Culpepper as contractor. Byrd commented, “It took six men only ten months to build this house. That always amazed me.”

downstairs liviing area in Spring House in Tallahassee, FL
Spring House downstairs living area

Stepping into the house amazed me. It was so perfectly crafted. As in all Frank Lloyd Wright homes, light flooded the space. He believed in bringing the outside inside. Some architects have said it’s not a true Hemicycle because it had curves not circles. Those curves were framed among the back wall with windows and a door showcasing the beautiful scenery behind the house. The windows extend up through the second floor as well. When we visited, the water level was down so the spring did not show to advantage but I can imagine it flowing past when it is in a fuller mode.

part of downstairs in Frank Lloyd Wright Spring House in Tallahassee, FL
Part of downstairs living area of Spring House

From the front I noticed a circular form at the front door rising approximately slightly above the main roof. This is the utility core; it encircles the kitchen, bath, heating, plumbing, and ventilation facilities. The circular wall composed of “Ocala” limestone and concrete block is exposed and circles to partially enclose the kitchen.  The remainder of the living area is open and gives a feeling of spaciousness. The windows towards the front are typical of Wright homes, small and high. Another circle inside forms the fireplace.

Kitchen at Spring House in Tallahassee, FL
Kitchen at Spring House

A compact staircase takes you to the second floor where the bedrooms and baths are located. Again those windows open to nature. The balconies that frames the rear of the home are cantilevered out over the greenery and overlooking the spring.

The bathrooms for the three bedrooms upstairs are enclosed by that same circular wall that separated the kitchen downstairs. Here there is a bubble skylight that offers sunlight to the bathrooms. The bedrooms all are served will by that rear glass windowed wall.

Exterior view of  Spring House
Exterior view of Spring House

Frank Lloyd Wright stated his aim in building, "Architecture that belonged where you see it standing and is a grace to the landscape instead of a disgrace." Spring House fits this model perfectly. It is a small gem in a unique Florida landscape. It was placed on the National Registry of Historic Homes in 1979. Clifton Lewis passed away in 2014 but before her death she created the Spring House Institute, a non-profit designed to help preserve one of Florida’s treasures. As you may notice from some of the pictures, the home is in need of some maintenance. Contributions are always welcome for this purpose.

Of the many buildings Frank Lloyd Wright build, less than 300 of his homes still exist and many are not open to the public. Spring House offers tours on the second Sunday of the month and private tours can be arranged at the website. 

For more info:

http://www.preservespringhouse.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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