Architect Robert Broward’s contributions to Jacksonville are seen around the city. His passing earlier this year was a great loss. He was a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright and known for many signature buildings still standing in Jacksonville. His design for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Art Museum, both in 1965, are phenomenal examples of his talent and personality.
Another of his great works in Jacksonville is Arlington’s Butterfly House on Wildwood Rd. This home was in the 1957 Parade of Homes and was designed as a spec house. Wayne Wood, lead author of “Jacksonville Architectural Heritage: Landmarks for the Future,” describes Broward’s approach as a lofty philosophical one designed to educate the public. He created the home as the beginning of a movement to what is now the ranch style house.
The “Butterfly” nickname for the house is so-called because of the inverted roof. Broward designed the roof to harness the Florida rains to flow into the front fountain and create a breathtaking piece of art.
The bedrooms are across the front with private gardens for each. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide natural light and a connection to nature. The existing wrought iron was not part of the original structure. Broward kept the home as open as possible and created rooms that naturally flowed into the next.
On either of the side exterior walls, concrete planters provided the perfect space to add greenery to the concrete modular units that make up the house. Most of the planters are still there but some have been broken off by vandals.
This will be a gorgeous home once it is again returned to its original glory. Read more about the fate of the Butterfly House in the Times-Union article by Tiffanie Reynolds.