A commercial property designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in northwestern Montana may become the first building by the acclaimed architect to be demolished in more than forty years. Mick Ruis, the owner of the building, has agreed to sell the premises for $1.7 million before January 10. When Ruis bought the building for $1.6 million in 2016, he had no knowledge of its cultural or historical significance. If a buyer cannot be found before Wednesday, the Lockridge Medical Clinic in Whitefish will be destroyed and replaced with a three-story mixed-use development.
“This comes as a great shock to us,” said Barbara Gordon, the executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, a Chicago-based nonprofit devoted to the preservation of buildings architected by Wright. “Fruitful discussions were still taking place to bring about a successful resolution to this case, which the conservancy and our local partners have been working on for more than a year.”
Wright designed the Lockridge Medical Clinic in 1958, a year before his death, and it opened in 1963. The brick and cast-concrete structure is one of only three buildings by the architect that were built in Montana. Commissioned by doctor T. L. Lockridge, the 5,000-square-foot clinic features a massive brick fireplace, double clerestory windows, and a sixty-four-foot glass wall. The venue was used as a medical facility for only one year, since Lockridge passed away in 1964. The building has since been occupied by the First State Bank and the law firm Morrison & Frampton, which moved to a new location last year after selling the property to Ruis.