Frank Lloyd Wright home debate pits preservation vs. property rights

Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, studio

By Philip Haldiman

The Arizona Republic

Voices fighting to preserve a famous Frank Lloyd Wright home in east Phoenix have been loud and resolute ever since its new owners indicated earlier this year they would demolish it to make way for redevelopment.

But when the owners of the David and Gladys Wright House publicly threatened a lawsuit against the city last Tuesday, the controversy reached a new level, centered squarely on the fundamental issue of historic preservation vs. private-property rights.

The property owners contend that the city’s effort to designate the residence a historic property is illegal based on several factors. Preservationists argue that the property’s historic value is immeasurable because of its architectural innovations and ties to Wright, perhaps the most well-known architect in American history.

The battle lines are being drawn as preservationists around the Valley argue that the Phoenix area in general is too quick to pave over its past and that historic structures are useful in promoting everything from economic development to civic engagement.



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