A $7.25 Million Sale Saved this Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece from Years of Demolition Bids
The iconic David and Gladys Wright House has had a fraught history in its Arcadia neighborhood, but now its future is looking bright.
By Bree Florence | Photography by Bob Hassett
When Zach Rawling first bought the David and Gladys Wright House in 2012, he did so to protect the classic Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece from demolition. Like many others in the neighborhood, Rawling had often admired the unique spirals and mid-century architecture of the home from behind a fence while on walks with his family over the years. His goal of preservation remained unchanging from the time he bought the home and through the two-year search for a new buyer who could restore it, according to the listing agent, Bob Hassett.
Wright designed the house, which he originally called “How to Live in the Southwest,” for his son, David, and daughter-in-law, Gladys, as a place where they could spend the rest of their lives admiring the Camelback Mountain vista. With locally-sourced concrete blocks and a curved design later recognized as the precursor to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the 1952 home is thought to be one of Wright’s last residential masterpieces and a valuable piece of Arizona history.
There were attempts in 2017 to donate the property to the Taliesin school, but when the school failed to provide the funds for the endowment, it went to market. In mid-August of this year, the David and Gladys Wright house sold for $7.25 million to Benson Botsford LLC. The team of buyers includes CEO John Benson and architects Wenchin Shi and Bing Hu, the latter of whom will be living in the home with his wife while overseeing restoration of the house. Shi and Hu served as apprenticeships at the School of Architecture at Taliesin, formerly located at Taliesin West, and Benson and Hu now serve as board members at the school.
“It’s in the right hands,” Hassett says. “We could not have put together a better group of buyers.”
The renovators intend to rehabilitate the home to its former 1950s glory, addressing both structural and cosmetic concerns. They will also install a copper roof, a nod to Wright’s original design. The surrounding 2.5 acres of property will see the construction of two or three smaller homes, each echoing the midcentury modern style. The owners hope that this restoration project can serve as an educational opportunity for the Taliesin community to honor Wright’s architectural legacy.