Frank Lloyd Wright
Lakeland, FL

The work of Frank Lloyd Wright has been extensively researched and documented.  Part of his work is documented in the  Wasmuth Portfolio  which drawings influenced architects all over the world; in Puerto Rico the work of  Antonin Nechodoma  to whom we dedicate a page in this website.  This project, however, is specifically related to Wright's work at the Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. 

Florida Southern College is Florida's oldest private Higher Education institution, it is associated with the Methodist Church.  It was founded in Orlando in 1883 as the South Florida Institute, was later known as Southern College and in 1935 adopted its current name Florida Southern Collge.  From Orlando its campus was moved to Leesburg, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and in 1922 it finally settled at its current location on the shores of Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland. 

From 1925 to 1957 the President of Florida Southern College was Ludd M. Spivey .  After the Great Depresion, when enrollment was drastically reduced, Spivey had a vision and in 1936 asked Frank Lloyd Wright to design several buildings for the college campus.  Wright's master plan included eighteen buildings, however, only nine structures were actually designed and built.  Construction for the first building started in 1938 and construction of the last building was completed in 1955.  

Wright's nine structures at Florida Southern constitute the largest collection of buildings in one site ever created by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The nine structures are:

  1. Annie Pfeiffer Chapel – First of the 9 completed structures, built between 1938-1941
  2. Thad Buckner Building - the original E. T. Roux Library, built between 1941-1945
  3. Emile Watson Administration Building – built between 1946-1948
  4. Water Dome – built 1948
  5. Carter, Wallbridge and Hawkins Seminars buildings in 1959 incorporated into one structure and renamed The L. A. Rawlerson Building – built between 1940-1943
  6. Lucius Pond Ordway Building – built between 1950-1952
  7. Polk County Science Building commonly known as Polk Science – built 1952
  8. William H. Danforth Minor Chapel – built between 1954-1955
  9. The Esplanades – various completion times

The Florida Southern College Architectural District is also known as  Child of the Sun because of Wright's idea that the buildings would take on the nature and character of the land they stand on and his envisioning of the campus rising out of the ground towards the sun.  The document approving these Frank Lloyd Wright buildings at the Florida Southern College in the  National Register of Historic Places  has more and very interesting information.