Start this tour of architectural wonders at the Florence/Lauderdale Visitor Center and Tourism Office, located in scenic McFarland Park. Architect Robert Whitten was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture for the 7,500-square-foot building which has impressive displays and exhibits designed to showcase the area’s tourism assets, including the music heritage, Wilson Dam, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Rosenbaum Home and other architecture, Native American artifacts, as well as tributes to famous faces like W.C. Handy, Helen Keller, Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin. Another highlight is a large aquarium with local fish and information on the abundant fishing that can be found on Pickwick and Wilson Lakes.
Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Rosenbaum House
A genuine work of art — from the floors to the furnishings to the faucets—the Rosenbaum House grows naturally from its surroundings, cascading down a 2-acre lot facing the Tennessee River. It is one of the purest examples of Usonian design (named for the USA) with open floor plans and rooms that naturally flow from one to another. Built in 1939, the same year Wright delivered his treatise on organic architecture, this significant structure is cypress, glass, and brick and still has original hardware and furnishings designed by Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright freed Americans from Victorian “boxes” and revolutionized art and architecture. He was born just two years after the Civil War and died two years after the launching of the satellite Sputnik and is considered to be America’s greatest architect. Originally built for $12,000 as an affordable, middle-class home, the house is the only Wright design open to the public in the southeastern United States.
In the late 1830’s, a young teenage Yuchi girl was living near the Singing (Tennessee) River. Unfortunately, this was also during the Trail of Tears, a dark time in American history when Native Americans were forcibly removed from the Eastern portion of the United States and moved west. This young girl, along with her sister, were discovered by Army personnel and forced to walk to Oklahoma. She listened for singing waters in her new surroundings and found none. Convinced she would die if she stayed, she escaped and spent five years walking back to Alabama. The journey was extremely difficult with many trials and tribulations along the way, however she returned to her singing river. In the 1980’s, Tom Hendrix, her great great grandson, visited the Yuchi people and had her journals translated. He had heard her stories many times and after the trip vowed to honor the great Native American woman. A wall of stones was going to be the memorial and over 30 years later, the monument is truly something to behold. It is the largest un-mortared rock wall in the United States and the largest memorial to a Native American woman. Each stone represents one step of her journey. Also, the shape, height, and width of the wall changes to represent the various obstacles she encountered. There are stones from over 120 countries that come in every size, shape, texture and unique geologic features you can imagine. A trip to Tom’s Wall is emotional, inspiring and you will leave touched by the dedication of one man to honor his ancestors.