It Just Makes Sense

We met our neighbor, Byrd when we first moved into the neighborhood. She was quite friendly and eagerly invited us into her home. Not everyone’s house has a name, but Byrd's does. The Lewis Spring House — built by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s just around the corner. For years, we hollered "Hellos!" and popped in a time or two to see the home and chat, always delighted by Byrd’s stories and constant joy for life and people and her community. George Wilder, especially, was enamored by the architecture and he grew quite interested in Wright's work.

Her parents built the house in 1954 - when Byrd was nine. She’s moved back there to live and she, along with hundreds of volunteers are thoughtfully working towards the restoration of the home. Both the house and the grounds have experienced Florida’s tropical push against the orderly. It prefers wild vines, briars, climbing ivy, rot, algae, and decay.

Byrd and the Spring House Institute have gently given space to the wild and redomesticated the home and yard including pathways visiting the creek and pond. Byrd knows the names of the plants and who put them there and how they are doing as if they are cherished pets hanging around thriving on her attention and care. 

But it is work, to hold back rascally weeds, menacing poison ivy, and humidity hungry for decay. My children beg to help her pull and carry weeds in wheelbarrow loads to the road. They love the home and are fascinated by the architecture. We asked Byrd if we could bring some friends to help. Byrd loves help and welcomed it.

Before we arrived, we set aside time to understand organic architecture and the art behind Wright’s work. We admired his ability to look at the surroundings of a place and design a structure that pulled from the present natural world, that used geometry and art to create something that flowed into its surroundings, pointing and leading the inhabitants to what the earth had already placed there. We experimented with words and structures and design. We listened to music that inspired Wright. We were ready.

Byrd stood before a pile of kids and didn’t skip a beat telling them wonderful tales of her childhood there. Swinging from vines into the creek and exploring the woods around the neighborhood. Every time we visit, a new story surfaces that delights us yet again. This home, this architectural work of art designed to house a family of six, took six men ten months to build! Short for such a masterpiece!  But, then when you look at it all, it just makes sense. How, did Wright design the most extraordinary structure to be a delightful family home? I know this is not the tale of all of his work. But when I stand in the Spring House -a house with a circular fireplace, an upper story shaped like a boat, walls made of glass, an entire wall - the sitting area - it is odd to say the least, but yes, I can see how it just makes sense. 

After touring the home, we slipped on gloves and started our weed pulling routine. Pulling weeds, filling wheelbarrows, carting them to the road. The kiddos were chit chatting away, asking questions, making comments, awed by what they were experiencing.

My children call Byrd their friend. They talk to her about her world and her life. They love to spend time working alongside of her and share space with her. 

If you ever have a chance, visit the Lewis Spring House. Both Byrd and the home are Tallahassee treasures!


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