"Usonian" is a term usually referring to a group of approximately sixty middle-income family homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1936 with the Jacobs House. The "Usonian Homes" are typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage. They are often L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on unusual and inexpensive sites. They are characterized by native materials; flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling; natural lighting with clerestory windows; and radiant-floor heating. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes. The word carport was coined by Wright to describe an overhang for sheltering a parked vehicle.
Variants of the Jacobs House design are still in existence today. The Usonian design is considered among the aesthetic origins of the ranch-style house popular in the American west of the 1950s.
In 2013, Florida Southern College constructed the 13th Wright building on their campus according to plans that he created in 1939. The 1,700 sq. ft. building includes textile-block construction, colored glass in perforated concrete blocks, Wright photographs, a documentary film about the architect's work at the school, and furniture designed by Wright. Named the "Usonian House", it was originally designed as one of twenty faculty housing units. The building is home to the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center, a visitor center for guests visiting campus to see the collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.
The word Usonian appears to have been coined by James Duff Law, an American writer born in 1865. In a miscellaneous collection entitled, Here and There in Two Hemispheres (1903), Law quoted a letter of his own (dated June 18, 1903) that begins "We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title 'Americans' when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves." He went on to acknowledge that some author had proposed "Usona", but that he preferred the form "Usonia". Perhaps the earliest published use by Wright was in 1927: