Pensacola’s forgotten treasure: the round house

John Lautner designed a house for his cousin Ernest Lautner and Ernest’s wife Mildred in 1958. Ernest was a builder by trade and Pensacola wasn’t exactly next door to John Lautner’s office, so John left the construction entirely in the hands of his cousin.

From Lautner Residence, Pensacola

photo by Tycho Saariste

Little has been written about this remarkable house, which is in near-mint condition today. If you ask neighbors where is the “round house” it’s likely they won’t even know. Just to whet the appetite of Lautner fans we offer this little glimpse of the early days of the round house: a blog entry by the University of West Florida Libraries. The photographs in the short article are from an article in the Pensacola News Journal that was printed in November, 1958.

Stephen Lautner, grandson of Ernest, the original client, now cares for the round house. Part of his self-driven mission is to track down everything that has been written on it. He recently offered a tour of the house to a group of about a dozen, including Special Collections Librarian Dean DeBolt of The University of West Florida. DeBolt offhandedly handed Stephen a printed copy of the above article.

A few weeks later a friend of Stephen’s noted that he had seen his house on-line. According to Stephen,

After grilling him I realized the article Mr. DeBolt had given me was a printed copy of an on-line article he published of the Round House back in November 2008. …What’s interesting about his on-line article is it was wirtten 50-years and eighteen days after the original paper article ran. While the original article is not re-produced in Mr. DeBolt’s on-line article, the original photographs (in digital form) are included. You can even see a hint of Nanny’s organ and Gramp’s original Wright-inspired sofa.

Stephen gives credit to architectural historian Bill Scott for the leads he has been following. A longer article on the building of this remarkable house is to follow in the coming weeks.

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