The agricultural lands of Los Banos may not seem a likely spot for a multi-million dollar home listing, so those perusing Zillow this week were likely shocked to see a seven-bedroom, six-bath farm house for sale just off Interstate 5 south of town.
The 4,041-square-foot home, listed by the Southern California real estate firm Crosby Doe Associates, sits on just over 76 acres and is selling for $4.25 million.
It is not without pedigree.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed
The house, built in 1961, was one of the last designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright before his death in 1959 and was owned by Randall “Buck” Fawcett, a well-known farmer who had given up a spot in the NFL draft (and an offer to play for the Chicago Bears) to return home to run the family business.
It is an example of Wright’s Usonian home design, which is notable for its use of “native materials; large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling; and natural lighting.” There is also a strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces of the home that “cannot fully be conveyed by words and pictures, but only by direct experience,” according to the home’s real-estate listing.
The gated property includes a main residence with open-plan living, dining and family areas, seven bedrooms and six baths, a kitchen and service room/laundry and three fireplaces — in the living room, family room and master bedroom.
The main fireplace is 6 feet high and 12 feet wide and a centerpiece of the home, mentioned directly in Fawcett’s obituary when he died in 2006.
“The massive fireplace, stacked with huge six foot logs he carried himself from the walnut orchards, was the blazing heart of the home, and the place of gathering and story reading when his children were young. He was a preeminent fire builder and stoked his legendary fires for more than 50 years, fascinating his children, his grandchildren, and his friends with the towering flames and the exciting sense of danger.”
Additionally, the home has a semi-attached museum (described as small), a large detached workshop, a swimming pool, koi pond and Japanese garden.
The home was first for sale in 2009
The Fawcett Farm was first listed for sale in 2009 after Randall’s death and the new owners began a complete restoration in 2012. That project was led by Fresno architect — and Wright apprentice — Arthur Dyson with landscape work done by Fresno’s Robert Boro. Dyson consulted with Wright’s son, Eric Lloyd Wright, and the home’s original interior designer Cornelia Brierly, and referenced many original photos and plans.
The project won the California Preservation Foundation’s Design Award for Restoration in 2019, because of the impressive detail in the work, but also because of the home’s location outside of a major urban center.
“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 foundation wrote in deciding the award.