In June 2012, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy became aware that the current lease of the Hoffman Auto Showroom by Mercedes was ending in December. Despite the Conservancy's efforts, along with the support of DOCOMOMO NY/Tri-State and the Historic Districts Council, the showroom at 430 Park Avenue was gutted during March 28 to April 3. Although altered twice over the years, when it was destroyed it still retained the central and distinctive Wright-designed elements of the spiral ramp and turntable.
After Potential Demolition, A Bright Future for the David Wright House
When previous owners threatened to demolish the David Wright House last year, there was an international outcry. The new owners are deeply interested in Wright’s architecture and absolutely committed to preserving the house. Phoenix attorney Grady Gammage, Jr. has been hired to represent the new ownership. The family strongly prefers to remain anonymous. Mr. Gammage and representatives of the ownership have begun meetings with members of the neighborhood to discuss plans. The intent is to fully restore the home, including the interior furnishings and the famous circular rug, and to plant the landscape as Wright had originally intended. Once it is restored, the house will be opened for tours by small groups of school children, architecture students and the public.
Transitions in ownership can present exciting new opportunities as well as significant threats to Wright properties. Finding new stewards who understand and appreciate these structures is crucial to the buildings’ longevity. Although the David Wright House was highly publicized because of the very real danger of the house being demolished, other Wright on the Market properties have also made headlines this year.
A new chapter opens in 2013 for the David and Gladys Wright House!
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is enormously gratified that the David and Gladys Wright House is now in the hands of a new owner intent on preservation rather than potential development. This benefactor who rescued the site through a December 20 purchase is now involved in careful planning for the house and its new educational mission. In the first half of 2013 a newly formed not-for-profit, working with the benefactor, will develop a vision for the house and the site, a comprehensive restoration plan and a more detailed use and operating plan. The Conservancy continues to be a part of these discussions.
Christmas came a little early this year.Culminating six months of intensive work and many ups and downs, we can finally announce that this unique and important Wright house is safe!The Conservancy has facilitated the purchase of the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix through an LLC owned by an anonymous benefactor.The transaction closed on December 20 for an undisclosed price. The property will be transferred to an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the David Wright House.
Join the Conservancy on Saturday, February 16 for an all-day tour of Florida Southern College, including all ten of Wright’s original structures. Additional events will include an optional Sunday tour of several homes in the architectural mecca of Sarasota as well as a Friday evening leadership circle reception at Paul Rudolph's stunning Umbrella House, described as “One of the five most remarkable houses of the mid twentieth century” by Architectural Digest.
The Phoenix City Council voted on Dec. 5 to delay a vote on the David Wright House until January 16, but that date could also change. There were some complications noted with council members' schedules that may force a revised date. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the Conservancy and its special taskforce continue to work behind-the-scenes talking with Council members, working with the mayor’s office and developing additional possible buyers. The process has become a marathon, instead of a sprint, and the Conservancy has developed a great working group of local experts and committed Phoenix residents.
The path to new ownership for the David and Gladys Wright House took another turn on November 12. The full purchase price offer that was announced on October 31 was withdrawn by the potential buyer who remains unnamed publicly as well as unknown to the Conservancy. Simultaneously and together with our Phoenix partner organizations we continue to seek City Council approval of landmark designation for the building. The next Council vote is scheduled for December 5
As expected the Phoenix City Council voted on November 7 to delay the vote on Landmark designation for the David and Gladys Wright House. The item will come back to the agenda at the December 5 meeting. Because of a pending contract to purchase the David Wright House (by a still unnamed buyer) the Council postponed action with the hope that the pending sale will close before the next meeting and that owner consent will be obtained, thereby avoiding a conflict over the past practice of obtaining consent prior to designation. Once again Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was very supportive of preservation.
Over 400 participants, homeowners and volunteers took part in the Conservancy's annual conference in Mason City, Iowa. Highlights of the conference included a benefit dinner at the recently restored Historic Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank (1909-1910) as well as tours of several other Wright structures: Stockman House (1908); Walter House (1945); Grant House (1946); and Miller House (1946). The conference culminated in the presentation of the Wright Spirit Awards, the Conservancy's highest honor, at a gala dinner on Saturday, October 13
Three formal City of Phoenix commissions/committees have recommended Landmark designation for the David and Gladys Wright House. The next step is a decision on November 7 by the Phoenix City Council, comprised of eight council members and the mayor. The Conservancy and its local partners continue to work for Council approval of Landmark status. In addition we are working out of the spotlight to seek additional buyer/buyers for the property. Prior offers have been made but rejected by the owners. If granted Landmark status any demolition permit would be delayed for three years allowing time to find a lasting solution.
The Conservancy continues to work closely with the City of Phoenix, the office of Mayor Greg Stanton and local preservationists in Phoenix to find a solution to counteract developers threats to demolish the David and Gladys Wright House. For the current situation,Click Here
A VERY POSITIVE STEP! On September 17, 2012 the Historic Preservation Commission of the city of Phoenix voted unanimously to recommend landmark designation for the David and Gladys Wright House. That is the first of three bodies that will provide recommendations before the City Council makes the decision on November 7. The Historic Preservation Commission’s recommendation is key to support for landmarking the building but the recommendations from the Camelback East Village Planning Committee and the city’s Planning Commission (on Oct 2 and Oct 9 respectively) also are extremely important. The Conservancy and its local partners continue to work to secure these additional recommendations and to secure city council approval of landmark status. Landmark status means any demolition permit would be delayed for three years. Critical to our efforts are more signatures on the petition – please sign today and ask your friends and associates to help save this house by adding their voices. Also if you haven’t already sent a letter please do so. You can do both – sign the petition and send a letter. The numbers of letters and signatures are reported to these bodies and they do have an impact! Click here for how to address the letters. In the meantime the Conservancy is also in discussions with potential buyers.
In late May, the Conservancy learned of a pending and potentially disastrous change in ownership for the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona. Since then, working in the public arena and with national and local preservation groups as well as laboring behind the scenes, the Conservancy jumped into action to save the building and its site. Despite initial public statements by the new owners that they would not demolish the house, the developers have recently indicated that “it’s not a given that the house can be preserved.” With possibly less than sixty days remaining to secure the building’s future the Conservancy is searching for a new owner and simultaneously working for local historic designation status.
Introduced in 1991, the Wright Spirit Award recognizes the efforts of extraordinary individuals and organizations that have preserved the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright through their tireless dedication and persistent efforts. This year’s recipients, who will be honored at the annual conference in Mason City, Iowa (Oct. 10-14, 2012), include Steve Sikora and Lynette Erickson-Sikora (private category); Mary Jane Hamilton (professional category); Wright on the Park, Inc., the Board of Directors and Executive Director Ann MacGregor (public domain category); and Jack Holzhueter (special honors category).
On May 5, the Conservancy's Out and About Wright: Prairie Architecture in the Illinois Heartland took participants for tours in Springfield and Decatur, Illinois.Between architectural tours of the Dana-Thomas House (Wright 1902-1904), Lawrence Memorial Library (Wright 1905), Irving House (Wright 1909), Robert Mueller House (Marion Mahony 1909-1911) and Adoph Mueller House (Marion Mahony 1910), a presentation by Mike Jackson, FAIA, on the restoration of the Dana-Thomas House and an evening reception at the Dana-Thomas House as the sun began to set, it was difficult for participants to select their favorite part of the event.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy has embarked upon several strategies to continue to expand membership and clarify member benefits. The first phase involved new communication and publications methods and the addition of an efficient new member database. We also implemented consistent discounted member pricing and increased the number of special educational and experiential events available to Conservancy members. As of June 1, updated membership levels and benefits will be in effect.
Saved: The James Irving Temporary Residence (1920)
If it were not for fast detective work by designer and PrairieMod blog author Eric O’Malley, this article may have been about the destruction of two architecturally significant structures in Wilmette, Illinois. Instead, through the actions of a network of preservationists and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the James Irving Temporary Residence (1920), a small cottage designed in Wright’s studio by Rudolf Schindler, and the adjacent James Irving Residence designed John Van Bergen in 1928, both received reprieves. O’Malley and the Conservancy’s advocacy co-chair John Thorpe led the charge. The cause attracted attention not only from PrairieMod, and local papers but also the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer-prize winning architecture critic Blair Kamin.
Out and About Wright: Prairie Architecture in the Illinois Heartland
President Abraham Lincoln is undoubtedly the most famous resident of Springfield, Illinois, but Frank Lloyd Wright also called Springfield home for a brief time when he was working for Susan Lawrence Dana. Although the Dana Thomas House (1902-1904), its 400+ pieces of art glass and many original furnishings are Frank Lloyd Wright’s best known work in Springfield, he also designed the Lawrence Memorial Library (1905) at the nearby Lawrence School, named for Susan’s father who had been president of the Springfield school board. After his work in Springfield, Wright returned to central Illinois several years later to work on the Edward Irving House (1909) with Marion Mahony, his longest serving employee and wife of Walter Burley Griffin. The Irving House is in Millikin Place, a grouping of several prairie houses in the city of Decatur. Mahony also designed the adjacent Robert Mueller House (1909-1911) and Adolph Mueller House (1910).
The Jewel in the Woods chronicles the history and architectural importance of this pinnacle structure, Seth Peterson's desire to own his own Frank Lloyd Wright home, and the endless dedication of the Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy to save this beautiful, and once forgotten, building.
Peterson commissioned Wright to design a small home in the late 1950's on Mirror Lake, Wisconsin. The design was for an 880 square foot cottage but experts speculate that it contains more pure Wright design per square footage than any other Wright building. The design, true to Wright's mission, borrows from the natural landscape, and brings that surrounding into the structure with tall, frameless corner windows and local sandstone, and overlooks serene Mirror Lake.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, spoke with a select group of Chicago architects, architectural historians and preservationists during her recent visit to the US. Restoration architect and Conservancy board member Gunny Harboe and Conservancy executive director Janet Halstead were part of a roundtable discussion with Bokova hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation on March 17. Harboe is also Vice President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage.
The story of the Kenneth Laurent House (1948-1949) in Rockford, Illinois, will have a new chapter shortly. It appears that the house will become an overnight stay, a house museum, or possibly a combination of the two under the ownership of a newly formed not-for-profit organization. At a recent auction, the Laurent House Foundation won the house according to the Rockford Register Star, “for the minimum bid of $480,000 plus a 20 percent buyer’s premium.” The house is unique among Wright’s designs in that it was built specifically as a wheelchair accessible residence. Ken Laurent had recently finished his Navy World War II service when a spinal tumor rendered him a paraplegic. He was recuperating from treatment in a Veterans’ hospital when Wright took the commission.
You have toured the houses and read the books—soon you may be able to watch a Hollywood feature film chronicling Frank Lloyd Wright's life during the early phase of his prolific career. The Conservancy focuses on Wright's buildings rather than the persona, but the stories behind the architect's building, his life and those of his clients make for fascinating background. Ken Burns' documentary (1998) Frank Lloyd Wright and the documentary Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright's Buildings and Legacy in Japan (2005) have explored Wright's life and work, but this new film promises a dramatic telling of his personal life and career during approximately 1904-1914. The Conservancy was contacted by the initiator of this film project who hopes to start filming next summer. Details are still pending but Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy and Tender Mercies are among his credits) is lined up to direct what may be the next Wright blockbuster.
Wright’s buildings constitute an unparalleled contribution to world architecture and to the cultural richness of our world. Revenue from membership fees and special events does not entirely cover our operating costs and activities. Your special year-end gift to the Conservancy now helps ensure that this remarkable contribution will endure.
Thank you Philadelphia, Next Stops: Auldbrass Plantation; Springfield, Illinois; Mason City, Iowa
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped plan, volunteered for or attended our recent conference in Philadelphia. In all, close to 250 were involved in the morning panels, special events and architectural tours, highlighted by four Frank Lloyd Wright buildings: the magnificent Beth Sholom Synagogue (1953-1959); multiple spaces in the Suntop Homes (1938-1939), a four-unit Usonian design intended to provide a nationwide model for entry-level cluster housing; Sweeton House (1950) in nearby Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and the rarely seen Spencer House (1956).
Four recipients representing the private, professional, public domain and special honors categories have been selected by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy to receive Wright Spirit Awards. The awards will be presented on Saturday, September 24, during the Conservancy’s 2011 conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT BUILDINGS MOVE TOWARDS INCLUSION IN PRESTIGIOUS WORLD HERITAGE LIST
On July 13, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s group nomination of 11 Wright-designed properties will be the next U.S. nomination recommended for inclusion in the World Heritage List. The list, maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), recognizes the most significant cultural and natural treasures worldwide. Previously, the group Wright nomination was one of 14 sites on the United States World Heritage Tentative List, which identifies those properties that the U.S. intends to nominate sometime during 2009 to 2019.
Frank Lloyd Wright Artifacts to be Displayed at SC Johnson
SC Johnson and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation recently announced a long-term loan agreement for the company to display a collection of artifacts highlighting Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on families and the home. Beginning in spring 2012, SC Johnson will exhibit a collection of Wright’s objects and memorabilia including drawings, models, furniture, fixtures, photos, personal effects and more. The exhibit will be open to the public, free of charge and will be housed in Fortaleza Hall on SC Johnson’s global headquarters campus in Racine, Wisconsin.
Frank Lloyd Wright and the East Coast: 2011 Annual Conference
Pre- and Post-Conference Sold Out, Limited Spaces Left for Benefit >>REGISTER NOW
With its rich history in progressive American architecture and design, Philadelphia provides a splendid vantage point to explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s work in relation to that of his east coast contemporaries and students during this year's annual conference, September 21-25, 2011.
Conservancy helps Wisconsin Historical Society Obtain Rare Photographic Proofs of Taliesin
With the Conservancy's help, the Wisconsin Historical Society has acquired a set of 25 rare historic photographic proofs of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin home and studio near Spring Green, following a whirlwind fundraising effort that raised the money needed to buy the photos from a Portage, Wis., antiques dealer. A total of 28 donors from coast to coast contributed to the effort.
Price Tower Arts Center is hosting a weekend of events to celebrate its inclusion on the United States World Heritage Tentative List. The nominations of historic natural and cultural properties by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will be considered for World Heritage Site status.The current listing includes over 900 properties that are considered the planet’s greatest treasures. The World Heritage Weekend in Bartlesville is set for April 15th and 16th.
World Heritage was chosen as the topic for the first issue of the Conservancy’s new member magazine, SaveWright, because of the importance of this activity for the Conservancy’s education efforts and for the recognition of Wright’s work on the national and international stage.
*Update* Wright Weekend in Wisconsin has been sold out. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the waiting list.
Taliesin is turning 100 and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is celebrating with an exclusive two-day package to see Taliesin like never before. The weekend opens with a private, after-hours viewing of the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century in the Calatrava-designed entry wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum on Friday, May 13, followed by a full-day excursion to Taliesin on Saturday, May 14, guided and interpreted by Taliesin’s preservation principals, Sidney Robinson and Keiran Murphy.
Wright in Milwaukee will open the Burnham St. American-System Built Homes for the Conservancy on Friday, May 13 from 2:00-4:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 15 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. to coincide with our Wright Weekend in Wisconsin.
After working with the LA Conservancy and National Trust for Historic Preservation to save the Ennis House from total deterioration in 2005, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is helping to look for a preservation-minded buyer to purchase the Ennis House.
Wright in the Bay Area: Two California Events Added
What does the Marin County Civic Center have in common with the Taj Mahal? Find out on Saturday, June 5 as Lynda Waggoner, director of Fallingwater and FLWBC board member, discusses the UNESCO World Heritage List nomination process.
Also on June 5, join the Conservancy for a benefit dinner at the rarely opened Walker House, Wright's jewel by the Pacific.
2010 Annual Conference: Modifying Wright’s Buildings and Their Sites: Additions, Subtractions, Adjacencies
This year, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy’s annual conference will investigate the significant changes that have been made to Wright’s buildings or their contexts by Wright and others. Concerned with issues of architectural integrity and interpretation, Wright homeowners, public site administrators, architects, scholars and preservationists will discuss recent developments, such as the completion of the Toshiko Mori-designed Pavillion at the Darwin Martin House and addition to the Guggenheim Museum, while looking to the future of other Wright structures.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT BUILDING CONSERVANCY HELPS SECURE COLLECTION OF WRIGHT MATERIALS AT AUCTION
Working in close cooperation, The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have ensured the purchase at auction of a major collection of photographs and drawings of Wright buildings, thereby preserving them as a collection and returning them to their rightful home in the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Please join the Conservancy as we celebrate the arrival of spring in this cosmopolitan, culture-filled city. Our first Out and About Wright event of 2010 will begin at the Minneapolis Hotel, in the dynamic downtown, just off a light rail connection to the airport. Lucky participants will venture around town and into suburban lake-side settings as they visit sensational works of mid-century architecture, touring inside and out, thanks to the graciousness of their respective owners. Most of these houses are seldom open to the public, so this is an opportunity not to be missed!
Experience a private tour, concert and dinner at Frank Lloyd Wright’s incomparable Auldbrass Plantation in Yemassee, South Carolina on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Nestled in the lowlands just outside of Beaufort, South Carolina is a hidden treasure, a plantation unique to the South. Auldbrass Plantation is an extraordinary example of historic preservation and is very rarely open to the public. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy has received permission to make the property available for this special event.
Endangered Ravine Bluffs House to be Restored and Go Green
There is excellent news about the endangered Ross House in Glencoe. This house had been on the Conservancy’s informal watch list for some time and in September was placed on the Landmarks Illinois Watch List for 2009-2010. It was reported in November that there was a purchase offer from preservation-minded owners and now that is confirmed. The firm of Eifler and Associates of Chicago has been retained as restoration architect by the new owner of the house. Plans call for the “greening” of the Ross House in addition to its restoration. John Eifler is a past Board member of the Conservancy.
Though my friends expressed skepticism that Buffalo, New York, really was a worthy destination for the Conservancy’s 2009 conference, I knew better. And Buffalo delivered. Or rather, the myriad residents of that city who selflessly volunteered their time and effort delivered. Big time. The Buffalo conference will go down in memory as one of the finest in the 20-year history of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Find more pictures here.
2009 Wright Spirt Awards Honor Stewards of Frank Lloyd Wright's Legacy
The Wright Spirit Awards, the highest accolades given by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy to those individuals and organizations that demonstrate extraordinary efforts in the stewardship of Wright buildings or the furtherance of Wright’s legacy, were presented at the Conservancy’s annual conference in Buffalo, New York, October 10, 2009.
The Avery and Queene Coonley Estate has been called an American palazzo. Wright’s unification of house and garden took another breathtaking step in this 1907 masterpiece. Rarely is there an opportunity to visit the original Coonley Estate, now divided into four separate private residences, in its entirety and including interior spaces -- all in the same day. The Conservancy has arranged this special access for a limited number of visitors on December 5. The tour will also include the William Drummond designed Thorncroft, adjacent to the Coonley Estate. Registration deadline is November 30.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is pleased to welcome Janet Halstead as its new Executive Director. Halstead, who joined the Conservancy on July 15, 2009, brings a wealth expertise to the organization including non-profit leadership, program development, fiscal management and major gifts and fundraising experience.
Join the Conservancy from October 7 - 11 in Buffalo for the 2009 Annual Conference. This year's theme is "Wright in the Drafting Room: Drawings for the Built and the Unbuilt". Celebrate the Conservancy's 20th Anniversary with lectures, tours and other special events. Register Now!