Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home sold in Arizona, will be preserved

PHOENIX Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:50am GMT

The Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona, is shown in this undated handout image courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. REUTERS/Scott Jarson/Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy/Handout

The Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona, is shown in this undated handout image courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

Credit: Reuters/Scott Jarson/Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy/Handout

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - A Phoenix home designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright for his son and daughter-in-law was purchased by anonymous benefactors on Thursday, sparing the distinctive residence from possible demolition.

The David and Gladys Wright House, which features a circular spiral layout reminiscent of Wright's iconic Guggenheim Museum in New York, was purchased for $2.38 million, listing agent Robert Joffe said.

The Chicago-based Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy said it had facilitated the purchase of the home by the anonymous buyers, who would in turn transfer the property to a not-for-profit organization for restoration and maintenance.

"This purchase is a magnificent and generous action," Conservancy president Larry Woodin said. "It is a gift to the people of Phoenix, a gift to the worldwide architectural community and to everyone that cares about the history of modern architecture."

The conservancy said plans for restoration were already under way and that donations would be sought from the public to continue that work. The new owners were also seeking historic landmark designation for the home from the city of Phoenix.

The home was completed in 1952 and Wright's son, David, lived there with his wife Gladys until his death in 1997 at age 102.

It was purchased from the family in 2009 and ultimately sold three years later to a local development company, 8081 Meridian, which had initially planned to demolish it and build new homes on the site.

Phoenix-area real estate agent Bob Hassett, who represented the buyers, said his clients wanted to remain anonymous and purchased the home in order to see it preserved.

"They just absolutely love Frank Lloyd Wright's work and always admired (the home) and cared about its historic value," Hassett said. "It would have been a travesty to tear it down. This is one of his better-known works.

Hassett said his clients had been in negotiations to buy the home several months ago and stepped in again recently after another set of buyers dropped out.

"My buyers just said, 'enough is enough,'" Hassett said.

The conservancy has gathered more than 28,000 signatures on a petition urging the city to give the home landmark status. Local agencies have approved that designation but it still awaits final approval by the city council.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton thanked the conservancy for its work in preserving the home.

"We developed a close working relationship in this process and we stand ready to help them with landmark designation, restoration and a conservation easement so that this important piece of our Phoenix history and the Frank Lloyd Wright legacy will be preserved for generations to come," Stanton said.

Wisconsin-born Frank Lloyd Wright, designed more than 1,100 structures, nearly half of which were completed, according to the conservancy. Considered one of the most important architects of the 20th Century, he died in 1959.

(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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