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Frank Lloyd Wright Project Planned

November 17, 1985|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Frank Lloyd Wright's Scottsdale, Ariz., home--known as Taliesin West, winter home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation--is being subdivided.

Not to worry. Only 25 acres of the 600-acre educational, architectural and social compound are going to be developed along with an adjacent 50 acres, recently purchased. Funds from the sale of about 54 single-family homes built there will go to existing Taliesin West facilities and programs.

Originally a desert camp, Taliesin West was built by the renowned architect and his wife, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, in 1937, five years after they built their 600-acre home near Spring Green, Wisc., known as "Taliesin," a Welsh word meaning "shining brow" and symbolizing inspiration. Wright died in 1959. His wife, who devoted her life to keeping his work alive, died last March.

Not to worry again. Wright's work will continue to live through the foundation, the two National Landmark facilities (Taliesin and Taliesin West), the Taliesin Council, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Friends of Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright Archives and Research Center, and Taliesin Associated Architects, designers of all but five or six of the 54 homes planned at the gate of Taliesin West.

The other half a dozen homes were already designed by the master himself. Jim McKeehan, president of Management Associates (construction managers of the project), noted that the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives have "at least 60 to 80 houses designed by Mr. Wright that were never built, and from time to time, one of these houses is pulled out and constructed."

An appointment-only approach will be used during the sales period, expected to start in early January, and advertising will be solely through a direct-mail video campaign narrated by the late actor Orson Welles. About that videotape, Roger Holloway of Impact Images, the marketing agent, said, "It actually became more valuable as a tool, because it was the last commercial thing Orson Welles did."

The end of the tape is "creepy but poignant," as Holloway described it. The end goes: "This is Orson Welles, bidding you a fond adieu."

Comedian Tim Conway's San Fernando Valley estate will be the first Design House sponsored by the 150-member San Fernando Valley chapter of the International Society of Interior Designers.

That, according to Kenneth Dean, newly elected chapter president and head of his own Studio City design firm.

Conway's home will also be the first Design House of an International Society chapter in the San Fernando Valley when designers are finished with it in April.

Since the International Society was formed in 1979, its Design Houses have been held in several cities throughout the country to help support charities and other worthwhile causes.

(A couple of years ago, the New York chapter decorated Eleanor Roosevelt's old home to benefit Hunter College/City University of New York. This didn't involve a Design House, but the Florida chapter just held an auction to raise funds for AIDS research. After the auction, the chapter donated $1 million to the University of Miami AIDS Research Program.)

Funds from the San Fernando Valley Design House will go to the American Cancer Society. (Tickets will be $10 each.)

Conway's home will be open April 6-27, and 25 designers will each decorate a room. "The house is about 7,000 square feet (in size) and dates back to the '30s at least," Dean said.

It has a long driveway that once extended to White Oak Avenue. "That's why, I guess, he has white oaks in his front yard. The trunks are actually painted white!"

That's no more unusual than what's planned inside the house. Dean himself will decorate the pub with a carpet that lights up.

"It's in the cards," that imaginative lawyer Dudley Gray Sr., who transplanted an Iowa courthouse to the fields of Torrance, announced along with the grand opening this weekend of a HomeClub (discount home-improvement store) on the site of the old Rainbow Club in Gardena.

Starting in 1950, the Rainbow Club helped make Gardena famous as a place to play poker. The Rainbow was next door to the farm house where it all started in 1938. The farm house was transformed into the Monterey Club, which was closed in 1981.

With the opening of card clubs in other Southern California cities, three of Gardena's six poker palaces--the Monterey, Rainbow and Gardena clubs--were closed. The Normandie, Horseshoe and El Dorado clubs are still operating.

On the old Rainbow site, the 104,000-square-foot HomeClub will anchor a $14-million to $16-million, 15-acre shopping center owned and developed by the Gray Family Corp. and scheduled for completion early next year.

The center is being built around the old Monterey Club building, which is expected to be altered to suit a new tenant.

Good news for Hollywood! It's still a "hot property" for the motion picture industry, a UCLA study concluded.

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