UPDATED: 6:55 PM Wed. 1/10/18
The owner of a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Whitefish has moved forward with plans to demolish it after today rejecting an offer to buy it by today's deadline. Developer Mick Ruis has said previously that he planned to demolish the building to make way for a new one if his sale terms could not be met by today.
Ruis’ Whitefish attorney Ryan Purdy confirmed that his client rejected an offer by preservationists attempting to buy it today. At about 5:00 Wednesday afternoon I asked him if that means that that no more offers to buy the building would be considered.
"Hail Marys - I’m always willing to communicate those to the client. But at this present time I believe that decisions have been made on the client’s plans, the owner's plans."
Eric Whitney: "And that decision is that the building will be demolished?"
Purdy: "I cannot comment on that."
Chere Jiusto is executive director of the Montana Preservation Alliance, one of the groups working to save the building.
"We’re just heartsick. This building is the last building that Frank Lloyd Wright designed and was built actually beyond his lifetime. It’s a treasure," Jiusto says. "It’s the only real Frank Lloyd Wright building that remains in Montana of any stature. We're losing a treasure. Frank Lloyd Wright is arguably the greatest American architect that ever lived, and to tear that building down to build some nondescript mixed-use commercial building because Whitefish is growing is a sad, sad thing to witness."
The Wright-designed Lockridge Medical Clinic in Whitefish is the first usable Wright building to be torn down in more than four decades, that’s according to the Chicago-based Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, which was also working to purchase the building.
Owner Mick Ruis’ attorney said that his client was not seeking to make a profit from the sale, but only wanted to recover his purchase price and additional costs he has incurred. He says the city of Whitefish approved demolition plans, and that the building has been on the market for a year.