HOUSE PORN: Treasure or Trash?—A Frank Lloyd Wright House is Saved from the Wrecking Ball.

There is a line between junk and a classic. While the saying “one man’s art is another man’s treasure,” may be true in some cases, there is a dividing line between a master’s work that should be preserved for the ages, and utilitarian dreck that is past its prime. Most of us can tell a classic Ferrari or Aston Martin from a 1982 Toyota Camry that needs a tow truck to give it a lift to the junkyard. Or a vintage Chanel suit from a threadbare Sears-label blazer.

And so is the separation between a structure in need of demolition, and one needing to be saved.

An architectural case in point is the David and Gladys Wright House—which legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright built for his son and daughter-in-law in 1952. Wright is one of the most iconic architects this country has ever known, still each structure seemingly must fight for its preservation.

Preservationists and architects have been battling developers over the demolition of this one of a kind, circular Phoenix home iconic house lovingly built by the architect for his son. The developers who recently bought the property had announced that they were going to "move in, invite everybody to come in and take their pictures, and I'm going to wait three years...then I'm going to knock it down to recoup my losses."

To architecture lovers, this was akin to saying you were going to adopt a kitten only to abandon it without food or water in the desert. Sacrilege!

The developers said they had no idea of the homes significance, or of the difference “between Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wright brothers.”

The current owners, John Hoffman and Steve Sells, bought the house in June 2012 for $1.8 million, paying $1 million less than its previous owners paid to Wright’s granddaughters. Their plan was to split the lot and build two luxury homes on the lot. They estimated that the land alone was worth $1.2 to 1.4 million—meaning that the property was more valuable to them without the Wright-designed masterpiece than in its current configuration.

The New York Times describes Wright’s signature on a red tile by its front door — “equal parts seal of approval and certificate of authenticity,” and goes on to paint the picture of the house, “Piano hinges, which line cabinets and doors from top to bottom, still hold strong. The floor, in colored concrete, has cracks that show its age but also lend it a degree of rugged charm.”

Fortunately, The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy announced that it facilitated the purchase of the home for $2.387M. The house is being purchased by an anonymous buyer. So how did they nab the house from the grasp of the greedy developer? Well, they had to pay him nearly $600, 000 more than he had paid for the home, only a few months prior (que video clip of Dr. Evil from Austin Powers). http://youtu.be/cKKHSAE1gIs

It seems that $600,000 is the difference between trash, and treasure. And there is a difference between Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wright brothers.

Sources: Curbed, The New York Times

blog comments powered by Disqus

The Featured Five