Jori Finkel noticed in the Los Angeles Times that two of the four Frank Lloyd Wright “textile-block” houses were on the market in Southern California and their prices have been dropping. The story clearly caught the eye of editors at the AP who added some data of their own on other important architects whose work is available on the cheap because of depressed housing prices:
“There’s still a lot of money in this city. It’s hard to believe that someone isn’t stepping forward to support these houses,” says Ken Breisch, who oversees USC’s preservation of the Freeman House, a textile-block house by Wright that was given to the university in 1986 by Harriet Freeman. “Taken as a group, these houses are one of Wright’s biggest accomplishments.”
One historic preservation expert, designer Steven Lamb in Altadena, says he’s surprised La Miniatura has been on the market so long. “If I had an extra $5 million, I’d buy it right away. The dirt alone is worth a million dollars in that neighborhood,” he says. […]
Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland says buyers are “excited by” the Ennis House as well. “We’ve had many people look at the house who own other Frank Lloyd Wright houses. We’ve had Italians, some English and someone on the Forbes top-20 list who brought his famous architect, or starchitect, along,” he says.
“I’m just not sure why the house hasn’t sold yet,” Hyland says. “You would think it’s an exotic Bugatti or Ferrari, and people with that kind of money would just snap it up.”
The AP catalogues some formerly prized works of Southern California architecture that are sitting on the market:
Pierre Koenig’s late 1960s Case Study House No. 21, for example, sold in December 2006 after barely a week on the market for $3.2 million, or around $2,400 a square foot. That compares to an average of $500 to $600 per square foot for neighboring homes at the time, Linder said.
But the prices of many of these pedigreed homes hasn’t yet come down to the level where buyers would be willing to buy a piece of art history.
A 1949 home built in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains outside Los Angeles by John Lautner, best known for the octagonal Chemosphere that looms over the Hollywood Hills, has been on the market for about two years.
The airy redwood-and-glass Schaffer Residence started at around $2 million, but has been cut to about $1.5 million.
In the trendy Silver Lake neighborhood, the Austrian-born Schindler’s sparse, concrete How House hit the market in September 2008 at around $5 million. Its last listing was at $1.9 million.