Los Banos ("the baths," named after no longer active mineral springs, apparently) sits on the outer edge of Merced County, a few hours from San Francisco. It's farmland - the soil is black and loamy, and the slight scent of cattle will assail your nose, sometimes, when you're driving these dusty roads. It's not where you would expect to find a Frank Lloyd Wright home, but the master architect did design and build a house here at the end of his career, amid the feedlots and windmills. James Temple has the story in last weekend's San Francisco Chronicle:
It is the third-to-last California residence drawn by the master of suburban homes, and one of only two currently on the market.
Obscured from the road by a cluster of walnut trees, the cinderblock structure forms an angular, shallow U. The living room at the base looks onto the garden through a wall of windows and French doors. Twin wings swing open to 120 degrees, a row of bedrooms radiating outward on the north side, the kitchen and play room on the south, before giving way to a palm-shaded swimming pool.
The elongated structure and the lines of the low-pitched roof, banded with a copper fascia, echo the flatness of the fields around it. The wings stretch out like open arms to the Coast Range in the distance. Where the sections of typical homes feel squared off and self contained, the obtuse angles, walls of windows, loggia and terrace open up the space, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior.
"He softened the whole effect of the place on that barren center of a valley by using the 120-degree angles," said William Storrer, author of "The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion." "It just seemed to be right for the space."
The centerpiece of the family room is a 6-foot-high, 12-foot-wide fireplace, a veritable cave where Randall Fawcett would tend massive walnut logs that burned for days. Built-in mahogany cabinetry and furniture accent corners and spaces throughout the home.
The 6 bedroom, 4.5 bath, 3700 square foot home - on 80 acres - is listed for $2.7 million. For more photographs and information check out the official website & listing.