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Historic Preservation Commission Saves Frank Lloyd Wright House

When Frank Lloyd Wright’s son and daughter-in-law died in 1997 and 2008, respectily, the Wright family sold a two-acre home in the Historic Arcadia Neighborhood designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. After being resold, the current owner is looking to unload the property. Their deal has been stalled by Historic Preservation Office, Phoenix Planning Commission voting 7-1 in favor of the historic designation. and is now for sale. Steve Sells is asking 2.4 million for the historic home.

Sells claims that he was not aware of the home’s significance when he bought it, or he would not have gone through with the deal.[1] With all of the inspections and appraisals that accompany the sale of a house, especially one in Phoenix’s Arcadia Neighborhood, it is shocking that the Sells would not have at least heard that Frank Lloyd Wright designed this home or that he was buying a piece of history. One assumes that a large portion of the house’s value comes from its designer. If this is true, if Sells did not know that the house had historic significance then there is an absolute failure in the way we are protecting historic homes in Phoenix.

Seven of the 415 works by Wight are in Phoenix, AZ plus more in the surrounding neighborhoods. “Great cities cherish their past, and we cannot let Phoenix be remembered as the city that let this home be demolished. So let us instead be celebrated for the community that saved it.”[2] Scott Jarson, preservationist and Realtor  commented after 2,500 people attended his two-day open house. We will see if this call to action turns into  a deal for Sells when the property goes up for sale on today.

Pueblo Grand Museum Archaeological Park

The Pueblo Grande Museum is a ruin that was abandoned one thousand years after being first settled in 450 C.E. The 800 year old platform mound is the central focus of the 2/3 mile long trail that also features a ballcourt, native plant garden, and replicated homes. Platform mounds appear throughout The Valley, but over half of them are located in regular intervals along prehistoric irrigation canals. Filling up existing structures, the Hohokam built Pueblo Grande, one of the largest platform mounds measuring 150 ft. x 300 ft. and 25 ft. at its tallest point, that included a sky gazing room and other rooms with varying purposes. Dr. Joshua Miller  reported on Pueblo Grande platform mound, offering important information, but left the mound vulnerable to erosion. Archaeology Institutes and their volunteers are constantly working to battle erosion. The archaeological park offers insight about how the Hohokam lived, farmed, played, and understood their surroundings.

Hohokam Pithouses

Surrounding the platform mound are Hohokam adobe homes replicated according to archaeology and historic information from American Indian societies who once populated the Southwest. Reed impressions on the floor of a home located near the platform mound indicate that these reed mats were used as beds by the Hohokam. The earliest homes, pithouses,were made from wood and adobe mud and arranged around shared courtyards.

Inside a Hohokam Adobe Compound

The Hohokam, who were driven by local competition, were constantly remodeling and improving. Their later houses, built from 1150 – 1450 C.E. were arranged in compounds, containing up to 70 rooms, used less wood, and were sometimes built on stone foundations. Meals for these compounds, which usually contained one extended family, were cooked in shared cooking pits.

The Hohokam roasting pit, known as an hornowhich is spanish for “kitchen,” was a large pit, up to 10 ft. in diameter, at the bottom of which a fire was smothered by stones.

Hohokam Cooking Tools

Agave was placed on these hot stones, surrounded by herbs and spices, covered in more stone, and buried beneath another fire. The Hohokam harvested fruits and seeds, and collected herbs, bulbs, and roots from the surrounding Sonoran Desert. The Hohokam families maintained their own gardens, protecting them from birds, rabbits, and other desert rodents.

The ruin includes a ballcourt where the Hohokam used stone balls to play games. There are many ballcourts across the Valley.

The Pueblo Grand Museum also includes three indoor galleries, focusing on the people who once occupied the surrounding area and is an archaeology repository for Phoenix, AZ.