It’s not every day that a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home goes on the market, and especially not one with the pedigree and square footage of the Fawcett Farm in Los Banos, Cal.
Listed for $4.2 million, this 4,041-square foot home features seven bedrooms, six bathrooms and an opportunity to own a piece of architectural history.
The excitement around this home sale is high, with coverage everywhere from House and Garden UK to the New York Post.
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Who Was Frank Lloyd Wright?
Perhaps the most recognized name in American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright is known for a design ideology that united buildings with their natural surroundings. In his words: “We have no longer an outside and an inside as two separate things … They are of each other. Form and function thus become one in design and execution if the nature of materials and method and purpose are all in unison.”
This radical vision flew in the face of classical architecture. It also employed innovative new building materials like precast concrete and radiant flooring.
Wright’s career spanned 70 years. He designed projects large and small while also teaching, lecturing and making public appearances to spread his philosophy.
Several of his designs used natural airflow and thick walls instead of large HVAC systems to maintain a constant temperature. This anticipated eco-friendly designs like the Passive House by almost half a century.
Wright’s homes are considered historic and cultural landmarks, so it’s notable whenever one comes on the market. When one as extraordinary as the Fawcett House becomes available, potential buyers line up.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fawcett House
Wright created the Fawcett Farm (sometimes referred to as the Fawcett House or Fawcett Home) for Harriet and Randall “Buck” Fawcett. Buck, a star athlete at Stanford, was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1944 but turned down professional sports to return to his family farm.
In 1954 the Fawcetts convinced Wright to design their dream home, and the couple personally oversaw construction. Even for a Wright-designed home, the Fawcett House is extraordinary.
Although considered one of Wright’s “Usonian” homes, that term is usually applied to the 60 or so homes Wright designed for middle-class homeowners. The typical Usonian build is a relatively small, single-story home without a garage or outbuildings, on a small plot of land — all features designed to keep the price affordable.
By contrast, the floor space of the Fawcett Home features amenities like a 6-ft. by 12-ft. -foot fireplace, swimming pool, koi pond and detached workshop. The exterior is also expansive, on 76 acres of agricultural land. Listing agents Crosby Doe show all these features and more on the Fawcett Farm’s listing page.
Construction ran from 1955 to 1961, and the home stayed with the original owners for more than 50 years. The house has undergone a major restoration by its current owners. Today it’s a lovingly restored piece of American history.
The 2015 restoration team featured strong Wright lineage. Lead architect Arthur Dyson worked with Wright designing the Guggenheim Museum. To ensure an authentic restoration, Dyson brought in Wright’s original interior designer on the home, Cornelia Brierley, as well as Wright’s grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, and the daughter of the original owner as consultants.
They added several features that had been part of Wright’s original design but were never implemented by the Fawcetts, like a forecourt and a cauldron in the living room fireplace. Those touches made Wright’s initial vision complete.
The restoration received a 2015 Residential Architect Design Awards Restoration/Preservation Citation by Architect magazine and a 2019 Preservation Design Award for Restoration from the California Preservation Foundation.
Wright Houses for Sale
A number of Wright-designed homes are still in existence. So while it’s rare for a home of the Fawcett Farm’s size and quality to come on the market, it’s not unheard of for Wright-designed homes to be available.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy tracks the sale of Wright’s designs and provides tips for buyers and sellers hoping to maintain the historic integrity of these landmark homes.
According to the Building Conservancy’s website, four Wright-designed homes are currently listed for sale in California, Arizona and Virginia, ranging from $2.5 million to $8 million. The Fawcett House stands as the only listing with such a significant amount of acreage included in the asking price.