Frank Lloyd / Wrong
Demolition of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lockridge Medical Clinic building in Whitefish, Montana. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1958 ands completed after his passing. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo: Matt Baldwin
It's the first usable Wright-designed building to be demolished in over 40 years. It was initially designed as a medical clinic, then it became First State Bank, and more recently it was an attorney's office.
Mick Ruis, a developer, agreed to sell the 5,000-square-foot building for $1.7 million, $100,000 more than what he bought it for. He made this offer after preservationists heard of the demolition plans. Ruis ultimately rejected the offer from an LLC set up by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. This was despite receiving his asking price of $1.7 million and a deposit. He kept changing his terms and demanded a deposit that was 50% higher, and non-refundable. He also changed his deadline multiple times. It was demolished at night while preservationists were still pleading to strike a deal.
Photo: Adam Jeselnick
This is Mick Ruis, the developer who is to blame. Unfortunately, he has ties to San Diego. He grew up in El Cajon and has been in the horse racing business in Del Mar.
In the place of the Wright building, Ruis plans to build a three-story building with office, condos and retail. His goal is to redevelop and revitalize the Whitefish/Columbia Falls area. However, you have to question the vision of someone so shortsighted that he would demolish a historic building by the most famous American architect of all time to build a nondescript mixed-use building. If his plan is to make the area a destination, he's doing it wrong. People would come to visit a unique treasure, like a Frank Lloyd Wright building with some sort of adaptive reuse. I doubt anyone will be traveling to see the new condo complex it's being replaced with.
Photo: Flathead Beacon