Phoenix Frank Lloyd Wright House Still Faces Threats of Demolition
The David Wright House, ModernPhoenix.net
Panic over the future of the David & Gladys Wright House in Scottsdale began over the summer, when the property landed in the hands of 8081 Meridian, a Nevada-based developer that expressed plans to redevelop the land, split the property and "relocate" of all existing structures on the site.
The historic home at 5212 East Exeter was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1950s for his son, David. The Wright family sold the house to JT Morning Glory Enterprises LP in 2009 (for $2.8 million) and was recently sold again to 8081 Meridian for $1.8 million.
And this morning, it was given front-page treatment by the New York Times as a building in "a fight for its life."
Front page of the New York Times by Preservation Foundation member Jim McPherson
When 8081 Meridian announced its plans for the property, historic preservation and architecture groups immediately rallied around the house, started an online petition, and held public meetings.
In September, the Historic Preservation Commission unanimously recommended that the house be given a landmark designation, but to save the house, the Preservation Commission and die-hard Wright supporters have a few more hoops to jump through -- before the current owner decides to 'doze it. And they have plenty of reason to quicken their pace.
After the Historic Preservation Foundation, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy of Chicago, and local Frank Lloyd Wright advocates filed for a historic preservation overlay and landmark designation, 8081 Meridian postponed their redevelopment plans and entered a 60-day wait period (that ended August 21) to see if a new buyer willing to preserve the property would step forward -- and cough up at least $2.2 million. No offers were accepted, but yesterday, 8081 Meridian agreed to postpone demolition for another 25 days, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy of Chicago.
Last week, according to local architecture blog Blooming Rock, the current owner of the David & Gladys Wright House invited Phoenix Mayor Stanton and members of the community, the Preservation Office, and Planning Commission to tour the property ... and then never showed up.
Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy members wrote in September that "[8081 Meridian] will most likely bulldoze this unique example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture unless some way is found to preserve the house ...Time is running out."
And it still is.
The 2,553 sq ft house is one of six residences designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright and is the only residence he designed that used a spiral plan -- similar to the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which was built six years later. (It'd actually make a nice Guggenheim satellite museum with 2-acres of land and views of Camelback Mountain ... if we could only get the Guggenheims involved.)
According to Blooming Rock, the Village Planning Commission also recommended a landmark designation of the house. Next steps include getting the recommendation from the Planning Commission during a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, October 9 at the Phoenix Council Chambers, and then approval by City Council during a meeting at 5 p.m. on November 7 at City Council Chambers.
The designation, if passed by City Council, would protect the property from demolition for three years.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.