We can add Blaine Drake's glorious, curvilinear Scoville House to that long list of Beautiful Buildings That Have Been Obliterated from the Local Landscape. The house, the second mid-century Drake in the Biltmore neighborhood to be demolished in recent years, was significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which was its peculiar "round room" layout.
But the Scoville House's curved interior walls are no longer standing at 5343 North 22nd Street. They were torn down in September.
"Another piece of history, ripped from the ground!" moans Robert Dyer, a designer who grew up around the corner from the Scoville house and played there as a kid. "These migratory people, who come here and get jobs making change at Costco, are the root of the problem. They establish a little credit and think, 'We'll build a big house with a flat-screen TV in every room!' Then they buy a beautiful, important house and tear it down to make room for their big, new McMansion. Their Tuscan McMansion! But do these people have any real taste? Do they care about our city's history? They're multi-generational banal!"
Dyer's outrage is a single voice in a loud chorus. Ever since news of the Scoville demo broke on mid-century fan forum ModernPhoenix.net, a major freak-out ensued from architecture enthusiasts. That's because Drake, who died in 1993, had a rare pedigree among local architects. An apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright at the original Taliesin in Wisconsin, he relocated to Arizona after World War II, establishing his Phoenix practice in 1945. It's estimated that Drake designed about 150 custom homes around town before retiring in 1985, having garnered international acclaim for his singular designs and gaining a reputation as one of only a few builders whose work influenced the development of Phoenix's mid-century landscape. The Scoville House, built as a spec home in 1952, was among Drake's most celebrated designs, which included the Unitarian Universalist Church at 40th Street and Lincoln and the Camelback Inn.
"Scoville was a very unique structure, with good use of material and space," says Drake's son Peter, a land planner in private practice ....
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