Frank Lloyd Wright may have many obsessive fans, but that doesn’t always translate to throngs of buyers. Case in point: The final home the pioneering architect designed before his death in 1959 has been on and off the market since 2016—and, just recently, dropped in price to $2,650,000. That’s quite a steal!
Phoenix’s famous Norman Lykes home was at one point for sale for as much as $3,600,000. So now, nearly one million dollars less, the home is positioned to sell very quickly, according to listing agents.
“A number of buyers from all over the country, and even some from Europe, have been watching this home for some time,” says co-listing agent Roxanne Johnson of The Agency. “Already buyers have told me that with this price reduction, it’s now in a place where they’re ready to write an offer.”
It’s a real head-scratcher why the arresting, circular home—a pristine example of Wright’s late-career style (think Guggenheim Museum in New York)—has been on the market so long. It is one of only 14 circular homes that the master architect built.
Frank Lloyd Wright home with circular design
“The roof has never leaked, the cement block wall that holds it up has never shifted, even though the home cantilevers over the rocks, ” says co-listing agent Jack Luciano, also of The Agency. “It’s a testament to the quality of the architecture at the time.”
The curvy home is built atop a solid cement brick wall that has never failed.
And yet, no acceptable offers so far. What gives?
“Frank Lloyd Wright properties are a very niche product,” Luciano explains. “You have to really want to live in this type of house. It’s like a piece of art that speaks to a very particular clientele.”
Johnson agrees: “This is typical of a Frank Lloyd Wright home in that it’s architecturally beautiful, but it doesn’t have all the features some of today’s modern buyers value.”
For instance, she notes that Wright didn’t design homes with massive bedrooms, walk-in closets, or huge, open kitchens. This home even lacks a garage!
“Some buyers are put off by the fact that it doesn’t have a garage or carport—just a small porte-cochère to park under out in front,” Johnson adds. In Phoenix’s intense sun, that could be a drawback. And since this is a hillside home, one would have to excavate in order to build a garage.
But that step is not out of the question. Among the many selling points of this home, it’s not on any historical registry, so buyers are free to make additions and/or improvements.
“The owners felt that whomever buys this home would be respectful of its historical heritage and original intent,” explains Johnson, “but they didn’t want them to be limited by rigid restrictions.”
The current owners (the house has had only two) have made some improvements and renovations of their own, but with the blessing of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation officials.
After’s Wright’s passing in 1959, construction was completed on this home in 1967 by his apprentice, John Rattenbury. In 1994, the homeowners hired Rattenbury to update and remodel the 3,095-square-foot home under the watchful eye of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The crescent-shaped pool that Wright had originally designed but hadn’t been built was added.
The crescent pool was added according to Wright’s original designs.
The home was reconfigured from five bedrooms to three, because some of the bedrooms were just too small to be practical, says Luciano. The master bedroom and bath were expanded, modernized, and given luxurious finishes that reflect Wright’s original intentions, but are more conducive to today’s living.
Expanded master bedroom
The master bedroom now flows into the master bath.
Master bath with unique closet space
And every one of these changes was made without altering the home’s original footprint.
The kitchen may not be as big as what today’s buyers prefer, “but it’s extremely functional,” says Johnson. Because of its round configuration, not much was changed. The countertops were clad in stainless steel and new appliances were added in 1994.
But there is one kitchen feature that Wright designed all those years ago that no homeowner today wants to be without. Can you spot it? It’s a kitchen island. Believe it or not, Wright designed the one in this home himself. The current homeowner merely added casters to it.
This island, as well as the rest of the custom furniture designed by Wright, comes with the house.