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  • Lance Williams

JEWEL BOX


You could be forgiven for dismissing it as merely a pale brick box with a plain flat lid, turning it's back to the street. After all, there's no decoration or pretense, and many find that cold and aloof.

But, as I approach the house at 530 Riverhills in Temple Terrace, I have to catch my breath, as I happen to have a love affair with true Mid-Century architecture.

That flat roof's broad overhangs shield the sun and catch the breezes. And, the brick facade provides privacy and security. Once inside, instead of regimented, formal spaces, ceiling heights and floor surfaces define the rooms, with floor to ceiling slabs of glass beautifully blurring the line between indoors and out. Nowhere is that better defined than the living and dining rooms. Slide back walls of glass and there is the most subtle separation between the terrazzo floors of the indoors, and the grand oaks and emerald lawn of the outdoors.

It's like living in your own sculplture. Which, for the woman who built the house, is appropriate. In 1962, sculptress Betty Jo Jackson hired master contemporary architect Frank Depasquale to create a suitable palette for her art. Nearly sixty years later its lines and spaces are as classic as the day Jackson first moved in: The large square foyer like an easel for reclining sculptures and important paintings.

For former New Yorker, Robert Knutowicz, the Mid-Century aesthetic was an acquired taste. He fell in love with it while trying to furnish his Rochester loft on a budget. For Robert, with all the curves and angles on what was then inexpensive "atomic" furniture, came a love for the architecture that so often comes with it. He promised himself one day he would own a "Mid-Cen". And, a broken heart made that possible.

After a Miami break-up Robert moved to Tampa and discovered "530" was on the market. The sellers twice re-buffed his offers. But, on the third try, and over a year later, Robert finally made good on his promise; "530" was his.

And so, the architectural sculpture on the gentle rise in Temple Terrace has defied the decades and scorning stares of the uninitiated to once again bring joy to a new owner who understands the value of the gem wrapped in the plain brick box.

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