Despite the best efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC), the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lockridge Medical Clinic building in Whitefish, Montana, was demolished late last night. The building, designed in 1958 and only realized in 1959 after Wright’s death, was unmistakably Usonian. The single-story, horizontally-oriented clinic building featured a generous overhang with a sculpted edge, interior and exterior brick, and a central hearth. The FLWBC notes that this is the first viable, or mostly un-altered, Wright building to be torn down in 40 years, and that it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the site had originally been purchased by developer Mick Ruis in 2016 and listed for sale last year, public interest in preserving the clinic grew once Ruis announced that if the building wasn’t sold by January 10th, it would be razed. The Montana Preservation Alliance and the FLWBC had been working together for over a year to raise the $1.7 million that Ruis was requesting, and allege that the demolition had moved forward despite putting in a realistic offer. The FLWBC claims that the offer submitted through 341 Central LLC, which was formed to purchase the building, was rebuked, as were their conditions to examine, or salvage, the remaining architectural elements. Ruis’ legal counsel, Ryan Purdy, told The Daily Beast that Ruis had already delayed the demolition timeline to give preservation groups more time to scrape together an offer. “The building has been for sale for over a year,” said Purdy. “It’s a little bit frustrating that there are all these people are rushing to get things done when we’ve had it posted for sale and we’ve been talking with interested parties for over a year.” Real estate prices in Whitefish have increased dramatically in recent years, and the town has been developing at a rapid pace to increase its density. A three-story, mixed-use building will be replacing the Lockridge Clinic, which in recent years had served as a clinic, bank, and finally, a lawyer’s office. With the Lockridge Clinic gone, the only remaining Wright buildings in Montana are the Writer’s Cabin and Farmhouse on the Alpine Meadows Ranch near the town of Darby. Both buildings, now used as luxury vacation rental homes, were designed in 1905 and come from the very beginning of Wright’s career. A video of the demolition can be viewed here.
Posts tagged with "Montana":
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] When the author Bill Bryson moved back to the US from England he wrote a goodbye book entitled Notes from a Small Island. I was frequently reminded of Bryson’s analysis as I rode through Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. By comparison to these great open spaces England is neat and manicured, with everything in its place. These huge states are shockingly profligate with their land—your barn falling down? let it, and build another next door; getting a new truck? leave the old one to rust in the field. Large areas of this beautiful countryside are disfigured by rotting trailers, wheel-less automobiles and discarded junk. Cities stretch out for miles and miles with low rise sheds and malls and scrub—Helena, capital of Montana, was probably the worst example we came across.When I get home I shall never again criticize the UK’s Green Belt policy; this key part of our planning system stops any development in a ring around the edge of major cities thus effectively restricting endless urban sprawl. To be fair to Helena they have done a pretty good job of improving their city center. Traces of the huge wealth created by the prolific output of gold from Last Chance Gulch can be seen in the heavy stone buildings of the CBD, St. Helena Cathedral, based on Cologne’s Domkirche, and the imposing State Capitol by Frank Mills Andrews. There is an open greensward outside the cathedral and Last Chance Gulch itself—now the main street—has been partially pedestrianized with spaces to sit out and for live performances. The landscapes we have cycled through have been awesome, but it is hard to say the same about the buildings. I yearn to see an elegantly detailed residence, a modern barn that has the charm of those that are now disintegrating. I long for a building positioned in the landscape with the elegance of composition of a Tuscan estate. So many buildings look like they have come out of a catalogue and just plonked anywhere. We’re a bunch of architects cycling through beautiful places, meeting friendly, welcoming people, served outsize meals, but we’re starved of ARCHITECTURE! I guess it is because there is so much space out here that development in such exquisite surroundings is taken so lightly. A map of the whole of Britain is just 1:10,000; the map I used to trace our route across the US is 1:3,800,000! That says it all really. When you’re a small island you care for every bit of it, sometimes too much, so that development is thwarted by conservation; but when you’ve got a lot of something, it’s easy to squander it.
[ Editor's Note: Peter Murray, of the New London Architecture center, together with a dozen architects and planners, is biking from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place in London, studying how cities are responding to the demand for better cycling infrastructure. He reports from the start of his ride. The Architect’s Newspaper is USA media sponsor of the trip and will post periodic updates of these architects on bicycles. ] Cycling through the small towns of Idaho and Montana provides useful lessons for the English visitor about the growth of settlements in the US and allows interesting comparisons with the development of urban structure in Britain. While we in the UK have high streets, they are a very different sort of place to main streets. English settlements often developed around market squares, their structure defined by the relationship between the church and the ‘big house’ occupied by the feudal landlord as well as topographical features and land ownership. The main streets of places we have cycled through in the last couple of weeks clearly grew up initially to service the needs of the traveller and retained their preeminence in the urban fabric because of the ubiquitous grid plan—a form promoted by Penn because he beleived it would prevent the outbreaks of fire and disease that bedevilled European cities in the 16th and 17th centuries. So as we followed the Lewis and Clark trail we came to towns like Kamiah, once the winter home of the Native-American tribe Nez Perce and now a tourist center with a main street remodelled along Western/Victorian theme. The wide main street is the heart of the place lined with two-story buildings with cut-out profiles that, to the tourist look as though they should be fronted with a board walk and somewhere to hitch your horse. We visited Bozeman, Montana. A look at the map confirms Main Street’s preeminence among city’s streets. We had been told of Bozeman’s hippy/liberal tendencies, largely on the basis that it is a university town. However the impression from Main Street was that this was a well-to-do town with its buildings in good repair, its shops and restaurants prosperous and an almost European intensity of street use with cyclists, pedestrians and cafe tables on the sidewalk. One American architect in the party—now working in London—described the look of Bozeman as "art directed" with its neat brickwork, refurbished buildings and tasteful color palette. The following day we cycled up Main Street in Reed Point—the home of the Great Montana Sheep Drive, past a tumble down bar that boasted "Indians and mountain men welcome here" and were accosted by a local who believed all cyclists to be dangerous lefties. Being British was even worse: “Why don’t you commies go to Iraq or Iran instead of coming here?” When it was suggested that the United Kingdom was not a communist state, the riposte was “No guns - no freedom!” Nothing of the sort, of course, happened when we went through Missoula. Described by the locals as a "spot of blue in a sea of red," it certainly had more of a hippy feel to it than Bozeman, less art directed, with buskers on the streets and offers of grass outside bars in the evening. Most importantly for us it is the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association who provide excellent information for long distance riders, particularly those going across the continent. The cycling provision in the center of town was fair enough, with bike lanes and a path along the Clark Fork River. However, in the outer areas the infrastructure for cyclists was non-existent with some of the most dangerous conditions we have yet encountered.