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Here’s Why a Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Home Is for Sale in Phoenix

A spectacular view of the David and Gladys Wright House.
A spectacular view of the David and Gladys Wright House.
Becky Bartkowski

The David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix is back on the market, after the owner was unable to realize his dream of turning the home into an education center focused on Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect renowned for his organic designs.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home, which was built in 1952 for his son David and daughter-in-law Gladys. The home, located just south of Camelback Mountain at 5212 East Exeter Boulevard, features a concrete spiral design with graduated entry ramp.

Currently, it's listed with Bob Hassett of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. The asking price is $12.9 million. The 2,553-square-foot home includes three bedrooms and four baths.

It last sold in 2012, to real estate developer Zach Rawling. He paid $2.3 million for the home, after learning it was slated for demolition.

Rawling dreamed of turning the home, one of Wright’s last designs, into an education center complete with archive, bookstore, and café. But neighbors in the affluent Arcadia neighborhood objected, saying events held at the center would mean excessive traffic and noise.

So, the David Wright Foundation pledged the home for future donation to the School of Architecture at Taliesin, based at the late architect’s Wisconsin estate. But bringing that plan to fruition would require raising a $7 million endowment by the end of 2020, to cover needed renovations and assist with ongoing sustainability.

Ultimately, the school decided it wouldn’t be feasible to accept the donation of the home. In June, Aaron Betsky and Rawling announced the news on the David Wright House website. Betsky is dean for the architecture school.

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“Over the past year, we have learned that the fundraising timetables of both parties do not lend themselves to a joint campaign,” their joint statement reads, in part. “With the School in its fledgling years, the prevailing thought was that the divergent donor interests would effectively divide its support base rather than enhance it.”

But they also noted an additional factor, described this way in that announcement: “Uncertainty regarding future capital improvements at the House and the long-term cultural development of the site in Phoenix increased this concern.”

Funds raised through the David Wright Collaborative Fund are going to the school, according to the announcement. And neighbors who opposed the project can take a deep breath, even as supporters lament the end of a dream.

Now, they’re left to wonder who’ll purchase the property – and how the new owner will want to use it moving forward.

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