Yes, after doing the round of college visits with my son almost six years ago, not to mention my own college experience, including years of post graduate work for continuing education as a teacher, I can attest these venerable institutions of learning ooze intellect and a bounty of beautiful minds eager for discourse (okay, maybe I’m poring it on a little thick).
But have you noticed the best of those campuses also offer acres and acres of awe-inspiring architecture (covered in the requisite ivy) and large oaks flanking numerous quads that lead to large clock towers or grand libraries or student unions; all conspire to elevate learning to something akin to a spiritual experience.
Indeed, Jimmy was in seventh heaven several months ago when we got the chance to visit a Florida college campus, with friends Joan and Jerry, that boasts the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) buildings in the world. Jimmy has been an adoring fan of Wright since his undergraduate days studying architecture at the University of Chicago. I’m an adoring fan of Jimmy; and obviously college campuses.
Voila; Florida Southern College (FSC)! The campus was indeed impressive.
Ludd Spivey, President of FSC from 1925 to 1957, single-handedly set out to transform the oldest private college (it has ties with the Methodist Church) in the state of Florida (the campus is located in central Florida between Tampa and Orlando) into a national landmark. In 1938 Spivey sent a telegram to America’s foremost architect. That telegram read, “Desire conference with you concerning plans for great education temple in Florida.”
Did I mention that FLW was Methodist?
The first and most spectacular of those buildings was the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, all the more spectacular because it was constructed with student labor (mostly females) when World War II put a dent in the available male workforce. Obviously Rosie wasn’t just a Riveter working on munitions.
That would be Wright’s Kentuck Knob house, the one he built for I.N. Hagan just east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania and seven miles from his most renowned house, Fallingwater. Both structures definitely “belong to” the site on which they were erected. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Wright’s protégée, Nils Schweizer, designed the new ET Roux Library that was built in 1968, nine years after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright. Notwithstanding the “house ON a hill” look, the clean lines/curves are reminiscent of Wright’s genius.
Fortunately the uniqueness of the Wright collection caught the attention of the World Monuments Fund, which monitors important architectural and cultural sites around the world (yeah, news to me, too), resulting in Wright’s “child of the sun" being placed on the Fund’s list of 100 most-endangered sites.
That designation should help with the $50 million price tag for restorations to this National Landmark. We were happy to make our small donation courtesy of our tour and one incredible volunteer tour guide.