The Lautner residence in Pensacola was designed for Ernest Lautner, a cousin of John Lautner, and his wife Mildred. It was built in 1957 by Ernest, a contractor, and later sold to his son Max, who owns it still. It is maintained by Max’s nephew Stephen Lautner, who lives primarily in Atlanta.
While the house is clearly visible from the water (Bayou Texar), it is nearly hidden from the road. Not long after it was built, a photographer named Frank Hardy took these photographs of it, both from the bayou and from the air. He used a Widelux camera (see some information about this camera) while on the water, and a Hasselblad from the air. Much later, his son Frank posted some of these images on his blog. A reader sent a note to the Foundation about this blog, and we contacted the younger Frank, who kindly sent us these photographs.
See the entire album for more past and present photographs of this remarkable residence.
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.
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.