Commentary: Arcadia neighbor supports effort to preserve Wright Home

Late last year I met my new neighbor, a quiet, well-spoken attorney who had just moved back to his hometown from Las Vegas.

J. Charles Coughlin

J. Charles Coughlin

My neighbor said he was born here, grew up in the neighborhood and that he always considered the Arcadia neighborhood his home.

I asked him if he was practicing law and he said no.  He offered that he was the project manager for the restoration of the David & Gladys Wright Home built on north of Exeter and south of Camelback.

I was impressed by his humility and kindness.  I invited him over for dinner that weekend with my family and friends.  He accepted.  We had a great time, talking, dancing, drinking and singing.  It was the beginning of a great friendship and I was happy I had such a great neighbor.

I later learned, after much prodding, that my neighbor was being self-effacing when he told me he was the project manager for the Wright House restoration.  You see, my neighbor and his family had actually bought the property and some adjacent lots in the hope of restoring the original Arcadia Estate – the David and Gladys Wright House.

He told me as a kid, he and his mother would ride their bikes over to the House to check it out.  His passion was Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.  He would spend years learning about the man, his vision and his passion for architecture.

It was Wright in fact who said that, “The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”

Today, my neighbor has set up a foundation to celebrate the artistic legacy of Mr. Wright. The David and Gladys Wright House Foundation has a three-fold purpose;

  • Preserve Arcadia’s estate tradition.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s last residential masterpiece was built in 1952 for his son David and daughter in-law Gladys, on 10 acres of citrus groves at the base of Camelback Mountain. (David and Gladys Wright lived in the house until their deaths. David died in 1997 at 102; Gladys in 2008 at the age of 104).
  • Celebrate the artistic legacy of Mr. Wright, the Wright Family and the history and culture of mid-century America through tours, lectures, cultural events, performances and educational programs.
  • Inspire future generations of artists and architects through field trips, educational programs and internships.

Just yesterday, I received a direct-mail piece from a zoning attorney purported to represent some of the residents closest to the project.  I was shocked to see my neighbor be demonized by this attorney, whose only apparent goal is to destroy our past so she can zone, build and sell new homes.

Contrary to what you may read in the zoning attorney’s mailer, the David and Gladys Wright House is occupied by a relative of Mr. Wright, and the Foundation’s aim is to Preserve Wright’s last residential masterpiece.

The Foundation’s current work is preservation of the home.  Regarding the owner being the “Las Vegas owner,” he grew up at 36th Street and Indian School here in Phoenix and lives here now.  The mailer may be some folks’ way of saying, “welcome home.”

If you would like to learn first-hand about the Home and my neighbor’s plans, please log onto our website to schedule a private tour.  Parking and access to The David Wright House is available through the Camelback Church of Christ located at 5225 E. Camelback Road.

OK, so you have made it this far through this post and I have never mentioned my neighbor’s name. I have spoken to him about this and he has insisted that it not be about his family or him.  He only wants you to enjoy the home as much as he does.    You see he is a very humble, generous and gracious man.

Please come visit the Wright House and take a private tour for yourself, learn about the property, the family’s goals and intentions for yourself.  That way you will enjoy yourself, learn about the project and you can make up your mind.

Thanks for taking the time to learn the truth, and by the way, when you do meet my neighbor, tell him “welcome home.”

Editor’s Note: Mr. Coughlin represents Your Actual Arcadia Neighbor United For the Preservation of the David Wright House.

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