The Florida Tropical House
by Leah Konicki
Showcasing a State
The state of Florida sponsored this house to showcase Florida and to promote tourism to the state. It was the only state-sponsored house in the original exhibition. Originally known as the Florida House, the house is covered in light-weight concrete stucco, painted tropical pink. Other materials used in the building include travertine, limestone, and clay tile, all of which are native to Florida. Now known as the Florida Tropical House, it was designed by architect Robert Law Weed of Miami and is an example of Art Deco. The design of the house, inspired by Florida’s tropical climate before air conditioning was common, includes an outdoor terrace that helped blend together the indoors and outdoors. The house’s flat roof was designed to resemble the deck of an ocean liner, and included a loggia and recreation room. Because of the harsh Midwestern climate, changes had to be made to the house. These changes included the addition of a basement and converting the outdoor recreation area on the roof to a traditional roof. Renovation of the house began in the mid-1990s; work included stabilizing and replacing most of the steel structure, and restoring the original hardware, window frames, and an aluminum staircase, which involved painstakingly removing layers of paint.
The Century of Progress houses are open to the public one day a year (in non-Covid years) at an annual tour co-sponsored by Indiana Landmarks and the National Park Service. The tour draws a crowd of avid preservationists along with the architecturally curious. While the owners generously allow tours of their homes, no pictures of the interiors are allowed.
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