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March 03, 2013

The right way to save a Wright house.

Photo: Scott Jarson,

The David and Gladys Wright House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son and daughter-in-law. Located in a citrus orchard in Phoenix, this 1950s masterpiece had been threatened with demolition until an anonymous benefactor purchased it for $2.387 million in December 2012. The buyer intends to transfer ownership to a not-for-profit organization, which will restore and maintain the home, while also making it available for educational purposes.

Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

This happy ending was an unexpected twist at the end of a seven-month battle between preservationists and a development company that planned to destroy the house in order to split the property.

Archival photo: Life Magazine

What’s special about this Wright house – in addition to the fact that he designed it for David, his fourth son from his first marriage – is that it is the only residence he designed with the spiraling design and ramp-way access that he created for the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Photo: Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic

Photo: Gwendolyn Horton

The next steps, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, will be to “develop a vision for the house and the site, a comprehensive restoration plan and a more detailed use and operating plan.” The new owner has requested that the City of Phoenix postpone a landmark designation action until a more complete vision for the house can be presented. Given that the Phoenix ordinance only covers a three-year stay of demolition, the best way to ensure long-term protection is with a permanent easement, which the Conservancy believes can be achieved with this new owner. We'll keep you posted on developments. 

Photo: Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic


Only a developer whose mind is set on the monetary value of $1 would push to remove such a remarkable piece by the great Frank Lloyd Wright...sad to see what people/developers are today, rather than remember what great architects still exist through their creations such as these...most likely due to that developers can produce numbers and not quality

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