-- Fallingwater it was not: From its wind-stripped shingles to an embarrassing overgrowth of weeds and bramble, the erstwhile beach house on Lake Michigan's shore did little to declare itself a creation of the architectural luminary Frank Lloyd Wright.
But that was no reason, say those who would preserve all of Wright's structures, to smash it into oblivion.
The 88-year-old beach house came tumbling down this month -- the first Wright building to meet such a fate in more than 30 years -- to make way for a four-bedroom home with a two-car garage. The last Wright structure to come down was Milwaukee's Arthur Munkwitz Apartments in 1973.
Although there are those who maintain the ramshackle summer cottage in the village of Grand Beach was beyond meaningful repair, to destroy it was akin to shredding a sketch or lesser work of a great painter, said Ron Scherubel, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. The group saved one of Wright's prefabricated homes in April.
"You want to preserve the entire body of work of a great artist," Scherubel said.
Scherubel said his group would have fought the demolition had they known it was coming. Although rumors swirled about the property changing hands, the conservancy didn't hear about the demolition plans until after they were carried out Nov. 8.
Given some warning, Scherubel said he would have tried to talk the new owners into other options, such as renovating or moving the home elsewhere.
"One of our restoration architects said even as bad as this one was, if somebody really wanted to, it could have been restored . . . to its original appearance," Scherubel said.
The village of Grand Beach issued a demolition permit to Thomas and Irene Trainor of suburban Chicago on Oct. 28, said John Boden Jr., the building and zoning commissioner of the southwestern Michigan village just north of the Indiana border.
The new place isn't "going to be a big, giant house," Boden said. "It's going to fit in nice."
A telephone message left at the Trainors' residence in Homer Glen, Ill., wasn't immediately returned.
Wright was born in 1867 in Richland Center, Wis., and designed more than 1,000 structures, about half of which were built. When he died in 1959, Wright was America's most celebrated architect.
About 350 of the 400 Wright-designed homes still exist, Scherubel said. Some have been lost to fire or natural disasters while others, such as the Grand Beach summer cottage originally built for one W.S. Carr, have been demolished. Over the years, a number of changes were made to the Carr house, and it fell into disrepair.
Boden, a carpenter who has restored old homes, said it would have been very costly and time-consuming to restore the Carr home. There also were other factors to consider.
"A Frank Lloyd Wright house, to me, is not the most energy-efficient home to have along the lake here," Boden said. "You get that wind howling down the lake in the winter and it gets rough on a house."
Scherubel agreed that it would have been a major renovation.
"It was in pretty bad shape," he said. "It would have taken somebody with a real commitment and interest in restoring it to have put the time and effort into it."
William Allin Storrer, adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Texas at Austin and author of "The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion" and "The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog," was even more blunt.
"The building deserved to be torn down, and crying over its destruction brings to mind the story of the shepherd boy who cried 'wolf' once too often," Storrer said. "We must preserve that of Wright which truly represents his organic architectural principles, and the W.S. Carr house did not even when built, though it had the master's signature on the plan."
In April, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy saved a prefabricated Illinois home designed by Wright from demolition, accepting it as a donation from a developer. The home was carefully dismantled to be reassembled and restored in Pennsylvania, the same state where Wright's trademark home, Fallingwater, sits perched above a stream.