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October 11, 2012

Open House at the Frank Lloyd Wright Designed David & Gladys Wright House in Phoenix Arizona

By Sara In AZ

As some you may or may not have heard a Frank Lloyd Wright home here in Phoenix is slated for possible demolition. It is almost hard to comprehend the words ‘demolition’ and ‘ Frank Lloyd Wright House’ in the same sentence isn’t it? Kind of makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.

It’s pretty much the saddest thing I think I have ever heard of and kind of really encapsulates the view that I think a lot of people here in Phoenix have on older homes……… which for the most part is ‘who cares, let’s just tear them down’. ugh.

If we can’t even save a Frank Lloyd Wright house here in Phoenix, how in the world am I ever going to find a time capsule to buy??? Lord have mercy.

This FLW home is on a super large lot in a really coveted section of Phoenix called Arcadia – which is not really a suburb per se, more like a name for the neighborhood – a very large neighborhood. Arcadia was predominantly built up in the 50s and 60s with large ranch homes on even larger lots around Camelback Mountain. Most all of the homes were custom and I don’t even want to think about how amazing all of them probably were back when they were built. Since land values in the Arcadia area have really soared in recent years it has become very popular for developers to buy older homes there and redevelop the home in one of 2 ways – either leave one wall standing and call it a “remodel” while they remodel it into oblivion (my pink ovens came from an Arcadia one wall “remodel” ) or the more popular – just tear down the entire old  home all together and build a brand new shiny McMansion. Great huh.

And this was supposed to be the case with this Frank Lloyd Wright house too. It was on such a huge lot in Arcadia the buyers ( a construction/developer firm) bought the home, citing they knew nothing of it’s historical significance, and their plans were to tear down the house  and divide the lot into 2 sections to build 2 new homes on the property.

News of this possible demolition has spread like wild-fire and some hearings are coming up with the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission to see if they can prevent the tear-down and give the home landmark status. Apparently the final ruling is supposed to come down in November. I have my fingers crossed that everything works out and that this very special home came be saved forever and ever.

Our Real Estate Agent, who knows we love older homes, saw an article in the paper that there was going to be an open house here the last weekend of September for anyone who wanted to see it. I was super excited to go, as I could not wait to see the inside of this house!

We got to the home about an hour before the open house was to end and there were TONS of people there which was kind of surprised me. We went up to where the front door of the home was and it was roped off. Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! So the “open house” was not really an open house, it was more just to see the home from outside. Though I was happy to see that the guest house was open for viewing – so I got tons of pictures of that for you all to see.

Some facts about the David and Gladys Wright home:

*It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1950, and built in 1951, for his son David Wright and his wife Gladys

*It is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, with a separate guest house

*David and Gladys Wright were the only residents of the home, along with their son, and occupied it until David’s death in 1997 at the age of 102, and Gladys’ death in 2008 at the age of 104.


The entire house is built with concrete block, with decorative concrete block surrounding a lot of the edges.


The FAB decorative block.


The house and the guest house both have a metal roof with this really cool edging.


This was a bathroom under the main house (at ground level), as the entire main part of the house is elevated. I think it was meant to be a shower room to use before of after you used the small swimming pool.


The design aesthetic was definitely minimalist, which you will also see repeated in the guest house.


It was really hard to get a good shot of this bathroom because of the circular design and it was quite small too.


This is where you would walk up to the front door…….using this spiral ramp. You can tell where the door was roped off, as no one went further than the top of the ramp. You can see the edge of the small swimming pool at the bottom of the picture.


This would be looking toward the main living room area.


And here we are in the guest house. This is an original lamp to the guest house.  I LOVE that perforated screen!


All of the ceilings (and I believe most of the cabinets and other woodwork)  in the main house and the guest house are made from Philippine Mahogany.  Super Gorgeous!


There was this sweet mini kitchen set up in the guest house! How awesome is this!


The tag on the mini kitchen – Dwyer.


Love the handles on the cabinets!


The bathroom of the guest house.





I promise – we did NOT use the toilet!


This shower was just like the other shower in the previous bathroom – with a concrete formed base.


Here is a view of the shower handles.


And lastly, the door knobs and cabinet pulls.


Mom was happy to hear that the door knobs were a really close match to her original copper tone door knobs!


It was really great to at least be able to check out the guest house, though I REALLY wish we could have seen the main house.

To be honest, just from the small bit that we saw of the home, we could tell that it definitely did need some restoration. Some of the concrete blocks had fallen off and should be replaced, the pool needed work, and the wood under the metal roof looked like it was rotting away. There were various other things too, but nothing that could not be taken care of…….and probably fairly easily for someone with time and patience and some money.

I’m really hoping for the best for this amazing house. It totally deserves to be saved and loved and admired for generations to come!

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18 Responses to Open House at the Frank Lloyd Wright Designed David & Gladys Wright House in Phoenix Arizona

  1. Rachel Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I can’t thank you enough for posting these pictures. My mind keeps returning to them over and over. I find it impossible to imagine that the house will actually be demolished. Perhaps I’m in denial. I feel sure that it is not going to happen.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      So glad that you enjoyed the pics Rachel! It is really hard to say what will happen. There was a hearing the other night with the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission and the vote was 6 to 1 to give the house ‘Landmark Status’, but the final vote is coming down in November. Even if the house gets Landmark Status I thought I heard them say it would only be for 3 years??? I am just hoping someone will step up and buy the place and preserve it like it should be!!!

  2. Andrea Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Ugh, I cannot believe this house might be demolished! On the other hand, I sadly can – the area of Edmonton that we’d like to buy in has the same issue – half the real estate listings suggest bulldozing to build a “dream home”. I really hope this house is saved from demolition – especially considering that not only is it a FLW, it was one that he designed for his son!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Oh darn Andrea, it sounds like that section of Edmonton is exactly the same as this area. 🙁 It’s SO sad too isn’t it…..all these amazing older homes being torn down for……well we know what for. ugggghhhhhh.

      And I know, he designed this house for his son for crying out loud – can somebody please save the day here!

  3. John Bachman Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    As an architect it is one of his best. The furniture and circular designed living room rug are gone. Believe the rug was auctioned off. Let’s pray this is saved. Great pictures!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      John, I did read that the rug was auctioned off, I guess the furniture was probably gone around that same time. I agree, this is an amazing house – the design is stunning – I will pray every night for a miracle!!!

  4. Barb in Arizona Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I saw this on the news last night. It was sad to hear this. My husband said why are they even considering tearing that house down. We live a southeast of Phoenix..there is enough room down here to build if the investors feel the need to build houses!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      It’s just horrible isn’t it Barb. I think that Arcadia area is just SO popular that people don’t care if they tear down something so special…..it’s very central and has HUGE lots and many, many people love that area. We’ve seen houses in there that would be awesome to live in, but the prices…….$500,000……$800,0000 and well over a million – it is just WAY too astronomical for us to even consider.

      You know what is really ironic – I just read an article that some of the people that live in Arcadia think the neighborhood is losing it’s charm because so many of these McMansions are going in………..lord have mercy!

      • Barb in Arizona Reply

        October 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm

        There are so many nice neighborhoods with some really great houses, but the farther you get into these “boutique” neighborhoods the more outrageous the prices get!! We went up to a lake up by Cave Creek a few weeks ago with some friends. The mansions were ridiculous..carved into the side of the mountains..ruined the landscape!! I agree with you Sara. We’re selling next year and moving up closer to Mesa..some of these houses that I would buy–the same that your looking at–are either ruined because no one took care of them, or so remodeled you don’t want to move into them because they are not our style. I think they need to SAVE this house just for the simple fact it is not a cookie cutter house like in most of the developments out here!

        • Sara In AZ Reply

          October 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

          It’s so creepy when they carve the houses into the mountains like that isn’t it Barb? I think at least on Camelback no more can go in there…..I think.

          And you are right, so many cookie cutter houses…..even the expensive ones – this house REALLY does need to be saved for the mere fact of being so different and so beautiful.

          Keep me updated on your house search, fingers crossed y’all find something you love to bits! 🙂

          • Barb in Arizona

            October 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

            Sara..I will! I’m still looking for you too!! There is a house across the street from one of my friends in Tempe at the 101 and Guadalupe..it was built in the 50’s and not much has been done to it..if it’s something I think you’ll be interested in I’ll let you know! I haven’t gotten to see it yet..it has a pool and a big yard! 🙂

  5. Jennifer Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I am continually disgusted by people who could care less about tearing down our historic houses and buildings. I read about this a while ago, so I am glad you reminded me of this travesty.

    You can go to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website (link below) and sign the petition. They only need 200 more signatures!


    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      I SO completely agree Jennifer…………..so completely and totally agree!!!

      Thanks so much for the heads up on the petition, somehow it escaped my attention. I just signed it and I will re-post it soon on here – hopefully we can get those 200 more signatures asap!!!

  6. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    October 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    This is so sad. I hope that a miracle is pulled out for the home. That just blows my mind that anyone would consider just tearing it down like it’s any old home.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      It is SO very sad, and I know – what in the hell are they thinking anyways…..like it’s some old ramshackle shanty or something. 🙁

  7. Michael Pipher Reply

    November 6, 2012 at 12:10 am

    This Home needs to be saved not only as a Wright Design Home, bur as one of only two homes Designed for his 7 children. How can a town and a state let this happen with so much history of Mr Wrights work.These home need to be perserved for future generations.The home is Living History of Mr. Wright and the Wright family. Michael From New Jersey

  8. Dianne Dumas Reply

    January 16, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Wow! How could I have not heard about this 🙁 I am an architect student at Portland State in Oregon. I was just looking for a door knob for my home and your web site popped up. How very sad to loose this Frank Lloyd Wright house. I hope the Preservation Society was able to intervene.

    I like your site. You have some cool post modern pieces of furniture. I’ll check back. Thank You for sharing your pictures.

    Dianne Dumas

  9. Pingback: Help Save A Frank Lloyd Wright House Under Threat of Demolition………Sign The Petition Today! | No Pattern Required

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