Welcome to the self-guided Leedy Lifetime Works Tour. Gene Leedy’s architecture answers the question, "What makes Winter Haven look so special and feel so different?"
Drawn to architectural genius Paul Rudolph in the early 1950’s, Leedy began working for him in Sarasota with a group of young architects, now widely referred to as the “Sarasota School of Architecture.” Gene believed the greatest architects in the world lived and worked with him right in Sarasota.
Although there was no school per se, the talented group received its popular moniker from Gene Leedy himself, as he introduced his colleagues at an architectural symposium he organized many years later. Eventually leaving Sarasota in search of his own niche, he came to Winter Haven in 1954 to build a commissioned home and remained here, making it his new hometown. Today Winter Haven boasts of more Gene Leedy buildings in one location than any other.
Though his work spans the country, Leedy’s local contributions speak volumes about environmental and human issues far ahead of his time, issues that remain germane to contemporary life. Gene Leedy was not an elitist designing beautiful buildings from an ivory tower; he was a real problem solver. The hot, humid climate of mid-century Florida presented many challenges for those designing non-air conditioned environments, and he met those challenges head on with many innovative design techniques. We often take for granted building attributes such as large aluminum framed sliding glass doors, double T beams, pre-stressed concrete, and the use of natural and industrial materials – all innovations of the Sarasota School. Leedy built a legacy and a vision for the future.
As you visit each Gene Leedy structure, it is our sincere hope that you are not only educated about but motivated to support the preservation of the Lifetime Works of Gene Leedy.