Brett and Julia Freeman

Brett Freeman and Julia Gorzka met at a Christmas Eve party in 2002.  Exactly one year after beginning to date, they were married on June 4, 2011 at Hyde Park Methodist where Julia sings with the Joyful Praise Ensemble.  Photographed at their 1920’s bungalow in Riverside Heights where they live with their pets LuLu, Feathurz, and Blue.

What’s special about living in Riverside Heights?  Brett: The big front porches on our street. It’s not a gated community. Everything doesn’t look the same. It’s convenient to get anywhere in Tampa from here.  Julia: I like the fact that neighborhood kids come over and help me garden. We’re finding lots of people we like are moving into Riverside Heights so that’s a big plus! I like the fact I can be downtown or Ybor City in minutes, but if I drive in the opposite direction all the signs are in Spanish and there are tons of places to stop and get cafe con leche.

What are your three favorite places for a date?  The Independent to drink beer, Soho Sushi for dinner, and Mise en Place for cocktails.  Joining the cocktail club at Mise was one of the watershed events that led to us spending more time together and moving past the friend zone.

Brett, what are you working on?  Brett: I’m on the board of the Tampa chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which donates quarterly grants of $1,000 to the winning applicant who suggests a project too Awesome to say no to.   I’m also a Graduate student in Architecture at the University of South Florida after being in I.T. as programmer, designer, software support and just about everything else under that sun for 20+ years. It’s the same fun problem solving in Architecture, you just end up with a physical ‘thing’ at the end of the day that someone can live in, use, put their mark of wear upon; something that was missing in my programming life.

Who rules the roost – Feathurz or LuLu?  LuLu, our Japanese Chin, is the only one who has the privledge of traveling both inside and outside the house. She also has a faux fur napsack she gets to sleep in on our bed. Feathurz, our indoor cat, is capable of leaping and lounging anywhere at will. She also has the best haircut and is currently sporting a mohawk. Our outdoor cat, Blue, a.k.a. the man in the tan suit can often be found lounging in our flower beds.

Brett, What is your fondest memory of growing up in South Africa? Johannesburg where I grew up with my brother, sister and parents, has something in common with Tampa: Big summer thunderstorms. When we were very young, my Mom would call us to adventure; we’d all go outside as the thunderclouds gathered and the sky grew dark. As the wind whipped up, all four of us would careen around the back yard, arms outstretched like wings, squealing with delight and revelling in the chilly wind on the hot day, waiting until the rain started to pour down, until a nearby thunderclap would drive us screaming wildly, indoors.

Julia, What does Tampa have that New York doesn’t?  Endless opportunities to get involved in the community, stir things up, start a movement, and make a difference.  Earlier this year I was part of a small grassroots group that self-organized to save the Friendship Trail Bridge from demolition and create a linear park over the bay.  Friends I met there just launched Connect Tampa Bay to bring citizens together for transportation solutions.  If you are smart, ambitious and motivated to make things happen, Tampa needs you.  New York is doing fine on it’s own.

Brett, what inspires you architecturally?  I imagine the happiness someone will experience as they get to walk in to their finished house or office building or use a new product I’ve designed for them, whether a chair or a lamp or something else. I imagine the pleasure they will get for having something designed for them, something that speaks directly to how they want to be, rather than another mundane cookie-cutter place or object. That sense of calm wonder is something I want to provide and it motivates me.

Julia, how has Tampa become part of your identity?  I’ve been known to call myself a Tampa-holic.

What is your favorite object in your house?  We love the things that remind of us life-events.  Brett: The refrigerator door because of all the fun stuff that we hang there – It has photos of friends’ children, party invitations, newspaper cut-outs of friends’ accomplishments and  of our wedding story. Julia: I like collecting books and religious icons. I like mixing up Brett’s Judaica with my crosses. I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the Virgin of Guadalupe. We both love the painting I have of her by Brad Smith that I bought in Santa Fe.