Friday, July 17, 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Mediation

A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home near Camelback Road in Phoenix was bought a few years ago by the David & Gladys Wright House Foundation while facing demolition. However, a battle with neighbors has arisen over plans to host events and build an events center at the property just south of Camelback Mountain in a wealthy Phoenix enclave. The former mayor there strongly supports preserving the mid-century home Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his own son and daughter-in-law before the architect's death in 1959, and wants to see a resolution of the dispute with concerned neighbors. Supporters want the Wright House to be open for public viewing as a historic site but are sensitive to concerns about events, traffic and noise in the residential neighborhood. Reportedly, they are looking for an independent knowledgeable mediator that all parties agree upon in order to bring about a resolution. This story caught my attention because we have gone through similar disputes in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park, where I was raised. James Gamble Rogers II was a noted architect here and a significant historic property designed by him, Casa Feliz, faced the threat of demolition. More than a million dollars was raised in private donations to save and restore the home which required moving the house. The event became a media spectacle, as the 750 ton behemoth, balanced on 20 pneumatically leveled dollies, rode the 300 yards across the street to its new home. Once the house was positioned in its new location, complete restoration began. Full disclosure: I served on the board of directors for a time and remain a friend of the Rogers family. Today, Casa Feliz serves the community as a historic home museum and venue for public cultural, private party and business events. Its rescue even inspired the saving of another of home, known as the Capen House, which was recently floated across Lake Osceola to a new location. See story here-- and information on Casa Feliz here-- and the Capen House here--