The California Preservation Foundation (CPF) exists to ensure that the rich diversity of California’s historic resources are identified, protected and celebrated for their history and for their valuable role in California’s economy, environment and quality of life. Incorporated in 1978, CPF has grown from a small band of advocates to a statewide network of more than 20,000 members and supporters. Click here to learn how you can become a member.
The Fawcett House in Los Banos is the winner of a 2019 Preservation Design Award for Restoration. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. In making their decision the jury noted the importance of encouraging preservation outside of major urban centers, stating, “there are so many places like this that we end up losing. In places like this, when the house is falling apart, it’s so often scrapped. We want to encourage this thought process in preservation where you don’t usually think of it.”
The Award will be presented on Friday, October 18, 2019 at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco. Tickets and sponsorship options are available at californiapreservation.org/awards.
About this project
Unlike most Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, the Fawcett house is sited in the middle of hundreds of acres of agricultural crop land. Buck Fawcett held several state track records, and was a renowned football player in high school and at Stanford. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears, but opted to return to the farm to help his ailing father Harry. H.G. Fawcett Farms was one of the premier agricultural properties in California. Buck’s father was one of the founders of Producers Cotton Oil Company, and pioneer in the Central Irrigation District. Buck served as agricultural adviser to California Senator S.I. Hayakawa. When Ronald Reagan ran for governor of California, he gave his stump speech from a wagon at the Fawcett Farms. The Fawcett’s hosted hundreds of people who came specifically to see the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
The home is on 80 acres of agricultural land. After viewing photos of the site, Wright said, “Not much beauty there.” Buck replied, “Actually, Mr. Wright, the Central Valley of California contains the most fertile agricultural land in the world, and you should consider it an honor to build a house there!”
The Fawcett house is considered by many as one of the finest examples of Wright’s “Usonian” homes. Usonian is a term referring to a group of approximately sixty middle-income family homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1936 with the Jacobs House. The Usonian homes are typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage. They are often L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on unusual and inexpensive sites. They are generally characterized by native materials; large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling; and natural lighting with clerestory windows. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes.
Photos © David Swann Architectural Photography
Arthur Dyson, Arthur Dyson Architect
Ken & Carrie Cox
Robert Boro, Robert Boro Landscape Architect
Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright Architect
Arthur Dyson, Arthur Dyson Architect
Brian Barcus, Barcus Structural Engineering
Historic Preservation Consultant
Eric Lloyd Wright, Eric Lloyd Wright Architect
Eric Bower, BMY Construction
William Saleh, William B. Saleh Company
Cornelia Brierly, Cornelia Brierly Interior Designer