Broadacres: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fawcett House, Los Banos, California
By Kathryn Smith
Photographs by Jim Simmons and Crosby Doe
In the second half of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career, 1936 to 1959, known as his “Second Golden Age,” he focused on his revolutionary new ideas for democratizing the American house. He rethought the building from every aspect: the foundations, the materials, the ground plan, the walls and roof, the arrangement for adults and for children, the construction system, the relationship between architecture and nature. He even accommodated the automobile, eliminating the costly enclosed garage. He invented the carport, which saved money on materials and labor. However, his goals were loftier as he believed that a well-designed house would provide its owners with a sense of personal freedom and spiritual enlightenment. He named his reinvention the Usonian House, using the abbreviation for United States. Each one was a custom-designed house including built-in furniture, lighting, and storage. At Wright’s death, there were about sixty Usonian Houses in every region of the country. Many clients lived there for the rest of their lives; however, in the past sixty years, the houses have often changed ownership, more than once.
One of these is the Randall and Harriet Fawcett House (1955/1961), eight miles south of Los Banos, California, which is an example of a quality-crafted Usonian House, designed by Wright with construction supervision by one of his personally trained Taliesin Fellowship apprentices, Robert Beharka. It is the only Wright house that was built on a working farm. After the original client’s death in 2006, the Fawcett House entered, after an interval, the second stage of its life: an historic restoration addressing every detail of the original plans, conducted by Arthur Dyson, a former Taliesin apprentice himself. The fully restored house represents the efforts of Wright; William Wesley Peters, architect second to Wright; Beharka; Dyson; Eric Lloyd Wright, Wright’s grandson and former Taliesin apprentice; Cornelia Brierley, a senior Taliesin Fellow and the original interior designer. Every person, with the exclusion of artisans and subcontractors, who worked on the Fawcett House was in an unbroken line of authority from Frank Lloyd Wright.
Perhaps one of the most important factors regarding the Fawcett House, as unlikely as it may seem, is the location. It is in the Central Valley, the largest agricultural area in the state; but, more importantly, it is in the northern third of the San Joaquin Valley region, known for its abundance of the most productive soil in the United States. Fawcett had grown up there on the family land, the H.G. Fawcett Farms. Randall Fawcett (1921-2006) was the youngest of three children of H.G. and Virginia Fawcett, who settled near Los Banos making agriculture their way of life. Harry, a pioneer grower, is locally memorialized as a community leader who sought ways to support and sustain the independent California farmer. He had been one of the founders of Producers Cotton Oil Company, and a major force in the Central Irrigation District.
His son, known as Buck, was recognized by many people for his forthright and outspoken style, his enthusiasm for living, and his love of nature. Blessed with tremendous energy and physicality, he excelled at sports. He attended Stanford University where he met his future wife, Harriet Driscoll (1922-1993). It was there that the couple had been introduced to Wright’s work during a college class. While at Stanford, he was a star football player and track athlete before enlisting in the military in 1943 as a paratrooper in World War II. While serving his country he played football for the Army Pacific team that became division champions. In 1944, he prized his offer to turn professional with the Chicago Bears but chose instead to return to the Los Banos farm to help his ailing father. He was a leader in the California agriculture and dairy industry his entire adult life, holding numerous leadership posts and was chosen by Senator S.I. Hayakawa to serve as the Legislative Assistant for Agriculture in Washington, D.C. from 1978 to 1979.
It was inevitable that the location of Buck’s future house would be in the San Joaquin Valley on the H.G. Fawcett Farms. The acreage that the Fawcett family owned is flat and the view continues into the far distance unbroken by man-made or topographical features. The horizon is limitless and the sense of freedom unbounded. The farmland is laid out in square and rectangular fields for crops and orchards. Buck and his future wife, Harriet, had aspired to become Wright clients ever since their student days at Stanford before World War II. It was predestined they would turn to him as their choice for architect.
WRIGHT’S AGRARIAN ROOTS
Wright’s connection to this type of landscape goes back deep to his Midwestern ancestors as he spent his childhood summers working on the farms of his grandparents and aunts and uncles in southern Wisconsin. In the late 1880s, he graduated from that terrain to Chicago’s Garden suburbs – Oak Park, River Forest, Riverside, Glencoe – which stretched out to the horizon as they emerged from the native flat prairie. Between 1900-08, he made his reputation as the creator of the Prairie House, a new domestic environment for the American family characterized by its profile of horizontality, low roof lines, open plan, natural materials in texture and color, and visual connection between the indoors and outdoors. With the 1910 German publication of the Ward Willits, Avery Coonley, Frederick Robie Houses and others, Wright went from an important Chicago architect to an international leader of modern architecture idolized by a younger generation of European architects coming to maturity before World War I.
It was at this moment that he chose to make a complete break with his first twenty years of architectural practice by moving back to the lands of his grandparents and maternal aunts and uncles in southern Wisconsin. Back to the ancestral farms in 1911. He built Taliesin, which was a residence, architectural studio, and farm for crops and livestock, such as dairy cows. Throughout the remainder of his life, he was dedicated to the rural life of Taliesin, and his grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, remembered that Wright, in the mid-1950s, saw himself as a self-sustaining farmer on his hundreds of Wisconsin acres. Except for winters after 1938 – the year he built Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona – he lived the remainder of his life on his farm, from which he drew inspiration and spiritual sustenance. So, Wright, more than any other American architect at that time, understood personal connections to rural life and the family. In other words, he understood Buck Fawcett.
In fact, Wright had been thinking of the ideal house in a rural environment for twenty years before he met the Fawcett couple. He was following a trend in the 1930s when architects turned to designing utopian cities in drawings and models. These ideal cities were theoretical visions for the future, not likely to ever be built. They were primarily European and focused on an urban context of high-rise towers and arterial roadways. However, Wright’s vision was different. Drawing on his personal experience, he designed a decentralized plan with each house sited on a minimum of one acre of largely self-sustaining farmland in the context of low-density shops, factories, schools, and churches.
He first proposed these ideas in 1932 with his book, The Disappearing City, and then gave them physical form in a 12-foot-square model called Broadacre City, exhibited in 1935 at an industrial arts exposition at Rockefeller Center in New York. Central to his theory of a low-density utopia was the advanced state of technology being perfected by the late 1930s; specifically, the automobile, telephone, radio, record player, and within a decade, television. Houses were categorized by the number of cars in the household: one-car, two-car, three-car, and up to five-car houses on the grander side of the scale.
Wright concluded the reason people lived in apartment towers in a high-density metropolis was because they needed to be near offices, concert halls, museums, and theaters. However, he realized that the telephone, radio, record player, and television made that unnecessary. He conducted a national architectural practice and lived with his family and apprentices in a better way on two hundred acres of fields and grazing land with a year-round running stream. In a typical day, he would be on the phone with his publishers or clients in New York or Boston, listen to Beethoven piano sonatas while working in the drafting room, and later watch a new play on the television. It is a quick transition to imagine how his life would have been transformed even more with the electric car, mobile phone, text messaging, virtual meetings, and the internet.
All the strategies with the machine and digital devices, however, were only a means to end. The homeowner could relax naturally just by looking out the window or sitting in the garden to attain serenity and calm. The Broadacre citizen benefited from fresh air, natural sunlight, close relationship with plants, trees, streams, forests, and domesticated animals. These were the tangible results, but on an even deeper level, Wright believed that each person would develop as an independent individual with his or her own sense of personal freedom and would grow in spirit ignoring the demands of a consumer culture.
Although Wright’s proposal for a decentralized community spread out on a flat checkerboard of fields was outside conventional land planning of the time, it was rooted in the fundamentals of how the United States was laid out dating to the time of Thomas Jefferson (another important American architect who lived on a farm). The Land Ordinance of 1785 marked the beginning of the Public Land Survey, which organized the territories into Townships (one square parcel of 36 square miles) and Sections (each Section equals one square mile). Starting with the geometric module of a square, all further divisions were made as squares within squares. The 90-degree angle predominated. Each one-mile square is further divided into quarters based on compass cardinals: Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest. This is the survey data used to describe Wright’s Taliesin and the H.G. Fawcett Farms. It also is the basic organizing module behind Broadacre City.
WRIGHT’S SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE
Buck Fawcett approached Wright after a turning point in his life. He married Harriet in 1945, and between 1947 and 1954 they had four children, two boys and two girls. Timing indicates that after their last child was born, they began to think of building a house to raise their family. Although they were typical of their post-war generation, they also were unique because they wanted to follow the agrarian ideal of the independent farmer living on his land in harmony with nature. This was also Wright’s ideal as has been explained. It was a good match.
While the timing was ripe for the Fawcetts, Wright’s practice had ballooned in the 1950s and he was juggling numerous professional obligations around the U.S. and in Europe. The last decade of Wright’s life was his most productive and financially successful. After years of domestic strife, the Great Depression, and World War II, he now was benefiting from a booming economy and the increase in construction of single-family homes and public buildings. Luckily, a new generation of young people sought him out to become members of his Taliesin Fellowship. He had a full and active drafting room, supported by senior members such as William Wesley Peters, his son-in-law and engineer, along with John (Jack) Howe, chief draftsman. Both of whom had been under Wright’s tutelage for more than twenty years. He was literally at the height of his international reputation, having just completed his largest career retrospective tour through Florence, Munich, Zurich, Paris, Rotterdam, Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles with high attendance figures. It was a blockbuster.
He had commissions all over the United States. In 1951, for the first time, he opened another office in addition to his own Wisconsin and Arizona compounds. It was in the center of San Francisco near Chinatown under the supervision of Aaron Green, his local associate. The work was mainly concentrated in residences, but apartment towers, churches, and eventually a civic center were also on the drawing boards. Green’s office dealt primarily with the area around San Francisco Bay, including the City and Oakland, south down to San Jose and Carmel; but the San Joaquin Valley fell within that boundary.
Henry Whiting III, Fawcett’s son-in-law, explained that Buck and Harriet introduced themselves to Green in 1954 and a meeting with Wright was arranged. Whiting, who interviewed Buck, reported that, “When Buck and Harriet traveled to Taliesin West to meet with Wright, they took photographs of the proposed site with them. As Wright was thumbing through the photographs, he 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.’”
H.G. FAWCETT FARMS
The H.G. Fawcett Farms comprised significant acreage in the San Joaquin Valley. The topographical land survey indicates most of the land was in Township 11S (south) Range 10E (east), described as follows: Section 10, the southeast 1/4; Section 11, the southwest 1/4; Section 12, a triangular part of the western 1/2; and the entire Section 14. While this selection seems random, it was not. It was deliberately put together to maximize productive farming. All the parcels were adjoining, and the parcels were chosen based on proximity to water. Water is the lifeblood of the Central Valley. Irrigation canals cross the Fawcett land on the diagonal, and in this instance, consist of the Outside Canal and the Delta-Mendota Canal. Harry Fawcett bought land that either had a boundary with a canal or the canal crossed his entire piece of land. Or the canals were inside in his parcel. The total acreage, including another parcel in Section 18 in Township 11S, Range 11E, came to 1124.5 acres.
Wright’s first request to a client was for a topographical survey of the property. The next step was to choose the site, usually taking in some prominent natural feature such as a stream or river, hillside promontory, or view toward the horizon. In this case, Wright used the existing parcel grid as reference point. He then would draw on the plot survey. By the 1950s, he preferred to place houses with southeast orientation. In this case, the rough sketch indicates that Wright may have chosen to place the Fawcett House in the southwest square corner of Section 11. However, it was built in Section 14 on the western half. The siting is never mentioned in the correspondence, so speculation indicates that the client may have made the change. Why? The original choice – Wright’s, conceivably – was placed too close to the Delta-Mendota Canal, which likely would be reserved for fields of crops. The final choice was much farther away from the irrigation canals.
The other fascinating thing about the siting is that Fawcett Farms had been already laid out with a few roads and divided up into a series of sixteen numbered fields. For instance, Section 14 is outlined by four roads, which mirror the boundaries of the 1785 square grid as follows: Charleston Road on the north, Mervel Road on the south, Mercey Springs Road on the east, Center Road on the west. And within Section 14, there was a smaller road that started in the lower southwest at an angle moving northeast until it turned at an oblique angle and became a straight line parallel with South Mercey Springs Road.
The Fawcetts had a clear idea of what they wanted in their family house; in 1954, they composed a three-page document of their requirements and intentions. The couple fit the pattern of Wright’s post-war clients in that they wanted an efficient and well-organized dwelling without servants where the children could play outdoors while the parents supervised from inside. The house was to be equipped with the latest domestic machines including dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, garbage disposal, washing machine, and dryer. They also had an active social life, entertaining several couples during the month, and giving a large party once a year. They welcomed overnight guests such as family and friends. The clients also asked for an attached dining room for “gracious charm at mealtimes.” Harriet Fawcett was perhaps freed up by the labor-saving machines as the document stated, “want house that can be cared for with a minimum of outside assistance.” It ended with: “Car Port – 3 cars.”
The first meeting took place in early March at Taliesin West, Wright’s winter studio and residence in Scottsdale, Arizona. Buck Fawcett presented him with photographs of the site and explained the needs of their growing family. The preliminary studies were mailed out on April 18. On June 10, Buck sent back a three-page handwritten letter of changes, mainly asking for bathrooms and closets to be enlarged. However, he did request a fireplace in the master bedroom and explained that they did not want the swimming pool to be “the focal point of the yard.” He closed by emphasizing, “Suggestions outlined do not imply criticism or dissatisfaction. We are pleased and happy with simplicity & feeling of general design & plan.” He closed, “Thank you for the most beautiful design for our home. We will be looking forward to your reaction on the few suggested revisions we have presented.” Contrary to the popular stereotype of Wright as intractable, each one of the clients’ points was checked off with “OK” written in the margin. However, the master bedroom fireplace was not built.
The next steps continued through the summer and into the fall. In June, the couple met with Wright in San Francisco, where they went over additional suggestions for making some rooms larger or smaller. On October 12, Buck followed up with a few more changes. He revealed in his letter that he understood Wright’s unique modular planning as he referred to reducing the living room and playroom by one unit. He closed in a jocular manner by stating, “We hope that you will be able to return the plans to us with greater speed and efficiency than we have displayed getting them back to you!”
Wright responded with a design that met all their requirements at the same time using efficient construction systems to reduce the overall cost. The plan is U-shaped with the living room at the mid-point and two wings extending out at 120-degree angles on either side. This reflected Wright’s methodology of zoning a house for maximum use: the private wing contains five family bedrooms, and the communal wing houses the workspace, utility, guest bedroom, dining room, and playroom. To increase the feeling of openness, he introduced diagonal planning, which meant 60/120-degree geometry, absent of any right angles.
The construction module was a 4-foot equilateral triangle, which was inscribed on the concrete floor. Wright had come to believe that right angles were a hard stop, and space flowed more smoothly and generously using obtuse and acute angles. Except for the need for privacy in the bedrooms, the greater part of the house is an open plan with space flowing around areas essentially uninterrupted. Surrounded by vast farmland, there was never an issue about privacy from the neighbors. The entire plan is focused inward around the green garden, the wings of the house embrace it. With the adjacent pool, it becomes an oasis during the summer months.
There are several brilliant features of the plan. First, the entrance utilizes Wright’s principle of “compression and release” – entering a low space to then move forward where the space explodes vertically and horizontally. The foyer has a low ceiling continuing around into the living room where it rises upward to meet a clerestory. At this point, the visitor is mid-point on the major axis between the impressive 12-foot-wide fireplace and the double French doors ahead forming a glass wall. The first inclination upon entering the living room is to turn toward the French doors where the view extends outward across the broad acres uninterrupted as far as the eye can see. This is the glorious thrill of the Fawcett House, one which Wright desired, but seldom achieved because many of his houses were built in suburbia and not in a rural setting. It is also possible to continue that feeling by standing anywhere on the entire inner perimeter of full-length glass French doors with views out to the garden.
On the horizontal level the open plan predominates, but Wright also manipulated space vertically. The rich experience of the Fawcett House reveals itself by moving from one space to another as the vertical space becomes enclosed and then open. There are five basic levels: from the roof height; through the rooms where human scale is manipulated by the ceiling shelves for indirect lighting, clerestories, and doors; then across the floors and out onto the terrace leading down to the green garden and shimmering blue pool. The roof is a tour-de-force – the unifying element of the house – adding drama, color, and ornament. Where the building terminates at the ends of the lateral wings, the roof is tilted upward repeating the angular motif of the floor plan.
A unique feature is the overhang, which is visible outdoors extending the entire length of the living room just above the French doors. As this room faces southeast, it is needed to protect the interior from too much seasonal sun. Wright avoids heaviness and does not block any natural light indoors by piercing the overhang with an abstract design. The perspective indicates that Wright thought of the overhang also as a trellis for growing vines, but it seems never to have been carried out.
In contrast, on the wings, the ceiling rises the full height above the French doors: on one wing providing luxurious airiness for the playroom and dining room and on the other side opening the gallery visually to the garden and the sky. In the playroom, Wright added a shelf for indirect lighting at the height of the French doors, manipulating the space even more. And on the ground floor, the concrete slab continues out and becomes the terrace, further reinforcing the blurring of indoors and outdoors.
To create a welcoming and serene environment, Wright chose only a few materials which he used in the same manner on the outside and the inside. This is a Wright signature gesture to create continuity. The primary ones were standard concrete block for walls, painted a sand beige; large sheets of plate glass used liberally for windows and doors; and concrete for the slab floor foundation and terrace. To avoid monotony, he specified that the block was to be built up as a battered wall, that is offset from the floor as the wall rises. In other words, the wall was slanted from the base to the top. This achieved masonry that was angled vertically and appeared to grow more organically upwards than a traditional wall. Each row of blocks has a continuous visible edge that creates a strong horizontal line on the exterior and interior.
Glass appears dramatically in fifteen pairs of French doors creating virtually a glass wall around the center garden. A special treatment is the front entrance, where glass is used to an optimum effect as a wide glass door, with plate glass side lights, narrow panes of glass on either side of the door. An unusual gesture for Wright, who seems to have taken advantage of the absolute privacy of the site. However, it draws the visitor inside with a direct view through a clear sheet of glass into the foyer and through that to the green garden beyond. An elegant flourish occurs where the windows form corners at the playroom prow on the garden side and in the master bedroom. Here, Wright butted the glass together, without a mullion, to create his “disappearing corner,” which he invented in 1924.
Another departure was the treatment of the concrete floor as it was not painted Cherokee Red, Wright’s standard color, but sand beige at the request of the client, who wanted it to harmonize with the landscape, as Whiting explained. The change did mean that the floor and the walls were more in the same harmonic color palette. These details helped to tie the building to the surrounding natural environment.
Warmth was introduced in the interior with wood. Wright chose mahogany paneling, which he used often in the 1950s. First, Wright was lauded for the craftsmanship of his custom-made cabinetry and bookshelves, which appear in rooms such as the workspace, playroom, bedrooms, dressing room, and gallery. Secondly, the wood was chosen for its color and grain, so it was left natural, not painted or covered with dark stains or varnishes. Also, Wright created plywood panels with cut-outs in an abstract pattern that were employed as spatial dividers, for instance, between the living room and the entrance and around the workspace. These pierced screens, which repeat the angular geometry of the triangular module, served the same purpose as the stained-glass windows in the Prairie Houses to protect the privacy of those inside while allowing light to come in.
The same intentions follow with the copper detailing on the roof fascia and the playroom indirect lighting shelf. The copper with a verdigris patina appears on the outdoors along the fascia and repeats as a border around the cut-outs on the living room overhang, and indoors on the playroom lighting shelf. The vivid blue green of the copper is juxtaposed with the sand beige of the masonry and plaster creating an appearance that is rich in color and texture. While much of the Fawcett House has the very clean lines of modern architecture, it is not cold and industrial. The materials and ornament give it human scale and visual delight.
In the fall of 1959, after a hiatus of four years, the Fawcetts turned to the next step: construction of their Wright house. Although Wright had died, his successor firm called Taliesin Associated Architects (TAA) finished his uncompleted buildings. With the founding of the Taliesin Fellowship in 1932, Wright created a system to avoid costly contractors where his apprentices were dispatched to building sites to supervise construction in cooperation with homeowners. As a result, Taliesin Fellow, Robert Beharka (1926-2010), arrived at the Fawcett Farms in October 1959. In addition to being known as a skilled finish carpenter and craftsman, Beharka had completed a solid apprenticeship by that time. He entered the Fellowship in winter 1953, where he worked under Wright at Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona. After a year and a half, he went to Bethesda, Maryland in 1955 to supervise the house of Robert Lewellyn Wright, the youngest son of Frank Lloyd Wright; then to McLean, Virginia in 1957 to do the same at the Luis Marden House.
By all accounts, Beharka, known as Bob, and Buck established a very close working relationship. They were supported by Wesley Peters, Tom Casey, and Aaron Green, each one of whom had worked with Wright for several decades. The house benefited from Bob’s skills as a craftsman as he worked out many of the details of the house including some of the fine mahogany cabinetry. In his November 9, 1997, oral history, Beharka recalled his impressions as a Taliesin Fellow working on the three Usonian Houses, “It was really an experience to build one of those houses because they were really finish work all the way. The block had to be laid perfectly. Then the vertical mullions – everything was mahogany. So I cut those up in the shop I had on site and set them. So that was really finish work. In most construction you put up two-by-fours and then later you’d come on and put finish work around it. But not this. That was finish right there.”
During the completion phase, January 1961, Wes Peters, TAA Chief Designer, designed an element for the entrance to the house titled Forecourt Pool and Garden Wall. A round bowl sat aloft, with water spilling forth into an elongated reflecting pool. This probably came about in a discussion between Peters and Fawcett, but it is not recorded. This water feature mirrors the narrow canals that are in the center of the interior road that cuts across Section 14 to the dairy. On a symbolic level, it represents the water that is the lifeblood of the Fawcett Farms. While it was an exquisite garden ornament, it was not completed until the restoration fifty years later. The house was ready for the Fawcett family just after its first publication in a fully illustrated article in Western Architect and Engineer, March 1961.
The original owners lived in the house until their deaths: Harriet in 1993 and Buck in 2006. Some years later, it was sold to only the second owners in its fifty-year history. As a result, the Fawcett House entered a period of intensive historic restoration in July 2012 at the highest professional level following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The first step was the choice of architect: Arthur Dyson, Fresno, California, who fit the job perfectly. As well as being a local architect for forty years, Dyson had been a Taliesin Fellow under Wright in 1958-59 working on the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael and the Guggenheim Museum. In addition, he continued with two other mentors, Bruce Goff (1959-61) and William Gray Purcell (1962-63), both following the principles of Organic Architecture. Since opening his own practice in 1969, he has designed over 700 buildings, public and residential, many garnering numerous awards. His connection to Wright and Taliesin Associated Architects was unbroken leading to his position as Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture from 1999 to 2002.
Dyson worked in a methodical manner examining the property inside and out, including services such as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. He conducted firsthand research with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, and Taliesin Associated Architects. He studied the original drawings and plans, historic and family photographs, and he involved Lynn Fawcett Whiting, Buck and Harriet’s eldest daughter; Eric Lloyd Wright, Wright’s grandson and former Taliesin Fellow; and Cornelia Brierley, Senior Taliesin Fellow and the original interiors consultant. He identified areas of concern including structural stabilization, selective demolition of previous additions and alterations, and updating of building systems.
The complete historic interior and exterior restoration – walls, floors, walks, doors, windows, paneling, hardware, furniture, and fireplaces – was of paramount importance. One of the most challenging was the fact that the concrete block walls had been painted pink by Buck’s second wife and needed to return to the sand beige. “We found a few spots behind cabinets with that [original] paint,” Dyson explained, “and after extensive research and countless color samples, we found the right match.” Another major part of the job was refurbishing the mahogany paneling, doors, and cabinets. “The wall paneling looked cheap, like it wasn’t original,” Dyson said. “It’s just that it had faded so badly. We thought we would have to replace it, but the painting people restored it to the original look.”
Decisions were also made to complete several details that were part of the original plans but not executed for one reason or another. These included two details dating to 1955: building the master bedroom fireplace requested by the Fawcett couple in 1954 and fabricating and installing a spherical fireplace cauldron – like the one at Fallingwater – in the living room. The entire property was finished with the construction of Wes Peters’s 1961 Forecourt Pool and Garden Wall. Art Dyson contributed a very sympathetic design for a courtyard gate that matched seamlessly with the overall ornamental theme seen in the details of the Wright house.
The restoration was finished in October 2013 and was recognized nationally with awards and professional notice from historic preservation organizations. The acclaim and publications are so prodigious that it is impossible to list them all in this essay, but highlights include Architect Magazine’s Residential Architect Design Award 2015, New York Council Society of American Registered Architects 2015, American Architecture Award 2015, and California Preservation Design Award for Historic Restoration 2019.
Wright’s completed work has reached such a pinnacle in the twenty-first century that no building of his has been demolished in the last twenty years. His legacy of Usonian Houses stands out as almost every single one of them is being lived in by families. Unique among them is the Fawcett House as it represents not only an ideal of Wright’s residential experimentation, but one that would fit perfectly in his utopian dreams of Broadacre City.