Frank Lloyd Wright's famed Ennis House to be sold

NEW YORK Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:57am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Frank Lloyd Wright's famed, long-endangered Ennis House, which served as a location for films such as "Blade Runner," is putting out a "for sale" sign with a $15 million asking price, Christie's said on Friday.

The 6,000-square-foot Los Angeles estate is being sold by the Ennis House Foundation, which recently completed the initial phase of a stabilization and restoration project after years of decay and damage from earthquakes and torrential rains. In March 2005, it was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's most-endangered list.

"Our goal has always been to be a good steward of the house," said the foundation's president, James DeMeo.

"We've made a lot of progress, but at this point a private owner with the right vision and sufficient resources can better preserve the house than we can as a small nonprofit," he said, explaining the decision to place the historic home on the market.

Perched atop a hill in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles just south of Griffith Park, the Mayan-inspired estate built in 1924 from some 27,000 16-inch concrete blocks is one of only four of the legendary American architect's "textile block" homes.

"I fully support the Ennis House returning to private ownership," said Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of the architect.

"My grandfather designed homes to be occupied by people. His homes are works of art. He created the space, but the space becomes a creative force of its own and uplifts when it is lived in every day," said Wright, a member of the Ennis House Foundation's board of directors.

The last private owners donated the house, which officials said would require a further $5 million to $7 million for preservation, to a public trust in 1980.

Another of the foundation's directors, film star Diane Keaton, will likely assume a public role in the sale of the house, which also has been used in episodes of television shows such as "Twin Peaks" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

The sale is being handled by Hilton & Hyland and Dilbeck Realtors, with assistance from Christie's Great Estates, a subsidiary of Christie's auction house.

Wright, who died in 1959, was one of the world's most prolific architects, designing homes, churches and office buildings like the Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, as well as public spaces including the famed white spiral of New York's Guggenheim Museum, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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