Lakes and Swans

Lakeland Travel Blog

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Swans on Lake Mirror, and Florida Southern College and the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright

 Another beautiful day and Mike and I are off to Lakeland. It's about a fourty minute drive from Tampa

Lakeland was first settled in the 1870s and began to develop as the rail lines reached the area in 1884. It was incorporated 1 January 1885. The town was founded by Abraham Munn (a resident of Louisville, Kentucky), who purchased 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land in what is now downtown Lakeland in 1882 and platted the land for the town in 1884. Among the names considered (and rejected) for the town by its residents were Munnville, Red Bug and Rome City.

The Florida boom resulted in the construction of many significant structures in Lakeland, a number of which are today listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lake Mirror
This list includes the Terrace Hotel, New Florida Hotel (Regency Towers), Polk Theatre, Promenade of Lake Mirror, Polk Museum of Art (not a product of the 20's boom), Park Trammell Building (formerly the Lakeland Public Library and today the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), and others. The city also has several historic districts with many large buildings built during the 1920s and 1940s. The Cleveland Indians held spring training here from 1923 to 1927 at Henley Field Ball Park. Many new parks have been privately funded surrounding Lake Mirror. They are the Barnett Children's Park, Hollis Gardens, and the newest, Allen Kryger Park.

The "boom" period went "bust" quickly, and years passed before the city recovered. Part of the re-emergence was due to the arrival of the Detroit Tigers in 1934 for spring training.

Southgate Shopping Center, used in the movie Edward Scissorhands
(The team continues to train at Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium and owns the city's Florida State League team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.) The development of the Lakeland Municipal Airport as a major facility in central Florida transportation was another factor. The 1930’s also featured the arrival of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1938 he came to Lakeland at the request of Florida Southern College President Ludd Spivey to design a "great education temple in Florida." For 20 years Wright worked on his "true American campus" creation. In his original master plan he called for 18 buildings (and several other structures), 9 of which were completed and nine left on the drawing board. All of the buildings were built out of what Wright called his "textile block system," the first use of such a system in Florida.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Campus of Floirda Southern College
He called his project "A Child of the Sun," so named from the architect’s own description of being "out of the ground, into the light, a child of the sun." It is the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world, and in many ways helped to form a pattern for many colleges in Florida and other areas of the country in the future years.

During World War II, Lakeland made an important contribution to the war effort. Hundreds of young British airmen were taught to fly at Lakeland's Lodwick airfield by volunteer flight instructors, a collection of barnstormers and independent pilots. These British airmen enjoyed the hospitality of Lakeland during their training and then returned home to fight in the Battle of Britain. Their skills in downing German warplanes were crucial to Britain's survival.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Campus of Floirda Southern College
Later, when America entered the war, the Army Air Corps relied on training fields like Lodwick to train pilots for its fighters, bombers, and transport planes. In 1990, Lakeland made its Hollywood debut when the Southgate Shopping Center was featured in the hit movie Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.

The collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture at Florida Southern College is called Child Of The Sun. This includes:

Annie Pfeiffer Chapel - First completed Frank Lloyd Wright building, begun 1938, dedicated 1941, French-door balconies restored in 2007

Buckner Building (Original Roux Library) - begun 1942, completed 1946

Ordway Building (Originally called the Industrial Arts Building) - begun 1950, completed 1952

Danforth Chapel - begun 1954, completed 1955

Polk County Science Building (Called Polk Science by faculty and students) - begun 1952, completed 1958

Watson/Fine Building (Administration Building) - begun 1946, completed 1949

Water Dome - partially completed 1949, fully completed and restored in 2007 to Wright's original plans

Three Seminars (Now the Business Office) - begun 1940, completed 1942, formed into one office building in 1958

The Esplanades - various completion times, currently undergoing restoration around the campus

 

 

goezi says:
Nice one Ed. I'm a fan of both Frank Lloyd Wright and the movie, Edward Scissorhands.
Great stuff!
Posted on: Apr 04, 2009
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photo by: ejames01