Future of 100-year-old Phoenix home uncertain

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Frank Lloyd Wright home slated for demolition was recently saved here in the Valley, but other pieces of Arizona's past are still in danger of being destroyed, including one central Phoenix home built 100 years ago.

“Everybody knows the blue house around here,” said Tony LaRosa. “This is a soul of the city.”

The home is hard to miss, especially since the Grover C. Dull home, named after its original owner, has been here near 19th Street and Missouri since the early 1900s.

It was built on a 40 acre ranch and citrus grove long before high density housing moved in across the street. And now, its days are numbered with demolition looming.

“It's the only old house I see around here and why tear it down,” asked LaRosa. “I don't understand.”

Tony sees value in the classical bungalow style home that the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission surveyed in 1993 and found eligible for inclusion to the national register of historic places.  

Of course the home never received any such designation and now the current owner sees more value in the land than the home.

“What we see is a depressed home that has been neglected, not taken care of or lived in in years,” said Jeff Menke with Sonoran Properties. “Right now we have letters from Phoenix compelling us to do something call the property communal blight.”

It’s the reason why the owner is looking to demolish the home, divide the property into three lots, and either sell those lots or build affordable housing. Of course nothing is etched in stone.

“The property can be purchased now, we are willing to entertain all offers we get,” said Menke.

Tony would like to see the city step in and help save the home the way it did with the Frank Lloyd Wright home.

“Just because it's not designed by a famous architect doesn’t mean it has no value,” said LaRosa.

Tony, who is an architect born and raised in Italy, says he understands both preservation and progress.

“I'm first to say I love construction. I love it. I love the smell of concrete, but sometimes really we should use common sense,” said LaRosa. “People sometimes think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Coliseum but history is made of everything.”

The central Phoenix property has already received preliminary approval to be sub divided, but Tony is still hoping someone might step up and maybe turn this place into a community or cultural center of sorts.

A home must be at least 50 year old, somehow significant, and have integrity to be designated historic in Phoenix.

There are some 9,000 properties in Phoenix designated as historic and the commission is constantly surveying and prioritizing for properties to add.