Wright's Cabin

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Alexander Chandler’s grand vision in 1929 for San Marcos-in-the-Desert, a luxury resort in Arizona, became the focus of Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio at a time when he had few other commissions. Wright moved his office from Wisconsin to Chandler, Arizona, and worked with the developer on a variety of projects, the smallest of which was a farm camp, the only design that was built.

Chandler Heights was created nearby on part of the 30 square miles of land owned by the Chandler Improvement Company. Stretching seven miles along the Hunt Highway, it offered perfect citrus soil, climate, irrigation and beautiful views. Tracts of land were sold to absentee investors who could participate in the growth of the orchard industry that still thrives in the area.

Wright's CabinThe citrus tract camp that Wright designed in 1929 for Chandler Heights Citrus, Inc. consisted of a dozen distinctive wooden buildings with canvas roofs. Basic but electrified, the camp was used by the manager as a residence and an office and had six sleeping boxes for visitors and workers, a recreation hall, a dining hall and a kitchen building. First available in April 1929, they were constructed on wooden platforms built of two-by-fours, with board-and-batten walls and canvas roofs, similar to the cabins Wright had just built for his own entourage at Ocatilla (Chandler Boulevard at East 32nd Street). Two layers of canvas provided insulation. The unique roof design of the sleeping boxes used a triangular module to create a partial geodesic canopy at the entrance, with flaps that could open or close to allow air movement.

Chandler’s fortunes changed drastically when the stock market crashed in 1929, and no other buildings were constructed. Much of the Chandler land was sold as he consolidated his resources. No one kept track of the simple cabins, and they were dismantled and gone by 1934.[1]

Excerpts from the following were used for this article:

[1] Lost Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vanished Masterpieces, by Carla Lind (October 1996)