Real Estate Report: Frank Lloyd Wright, Off the Market & Unsold



People love visiting Frank Lloyd Wright houses but they don’t want to live in them. After more than a year, this one’s off the market.

The Basics: A four-bedroom, four-bath house on an acre of Pasadena, built in 1923 and restored to perfect condition, asking $4.995M. Not so Basic: It’s the house called La Miniatura, aka The Alice Millard House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and enlarged by his architect son, Lloyd Wright. Alice, an antiquarian/book dealer, and her husband lived in a Wright house in Chicago, and when she moved to Pasadena after her husband’s death she asked Wright to design another. The property’s on the edge of a ravine, and Wright set the house into it, two stories in the front and three in the back. It’s one of his early open-plan “Usonian” houses and built out of patterned cast concrete blocks, some inset with glass, that form the exterior and interior walls.

Wright’s decorative objects, like the highly patterned windows and metalwork he designed for his clients, sell for incredibly high prices, but no one seems to want the houses. Very idiosyncratic as living spaces, they’re tougher to adapt to than their Victorian predecessors. Which gives you some idea of how radical they must have been when they were built. Lloyd Wright’s two-story addition a few years later was for Alice Millard’s antique furniture and decorative arts business, and while it’s swell to live above the shop- especially one like this- it’s tough to translate into comfy living for your average 21st Century multimillionaire. The house first came on the market in 2009 for $7.5M. Love the kitchen, but you know everyone’s going to wind up in there during a party.

For hours of online fun while pretending to work: Crosby Doe, the eminent Los Angeles realtor, represented the current owners and put together a great website for the La Miniatura, including Wright’s drawings and other documentation along with great photos. Plus Flickr user Wildbell has a great tour of the house from one its rare public openings.