Developer Bulldozes Frank Lloyd Wright Building as Preservationists Rushed to Save It

Developer Bulldozes Frank Lloyd Wright Building as Preservationists Rushed to Save It

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The owner of a historic Frank Lloyd Wright building in Whitefish, Montana razed the structure last week, immediately after last-minute negotiations with preservationists attempting to buy it fell through. Designed in 1958 — one year before Wright’s death — as a medical clinic, the 5,000-square-foot building is the first Wright-designed one to be demolished in over 40 years. Its owner, the developer Mick Ruis, has plans to replace it with a three-story development for residences, retail space, and offices.

The demolition, which occurred overnight on January 10, came as a shock to members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC), a Chicago-based nonprofit, and the Montana Preservation Society, who have been working together for over a year to save the building. Although unintended for private residence, the building is quintessentially Usonian, with a flat roof complete with overhang, clerestory windows, and a central hearth — a pretty uncommon feature for a clinic.

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