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Tour Frank Lloyd Wright homes in California that rarely open to the public

RE.0307.Home.3–– Interior shot of frank Lloyd Wright home in Bakersfield. HANDOUT
The George and Millie Ablin House in Bakersfield, shown here in 2004, is one of five Frank Lloyd Wright homes that will open to the public for a fundraising tour..
(Los Angeles Times)

Frank Lloyd Wright is known for his prairie-style homes in the American Midwest and the East, but the storied architect built lesser-known homes in California too. Five private residences, from the San Gabriel Valley to Orinda in the north, will be open to the public on selected dates in July.

Tours cost $150 for each site. The cost is a donation to the sponsoring Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative, a nonprofit organization that seeks to rebuild and renovate the architect’s work around the country.

“Having met all the California owners and a number of Frank Lloyd Wright [home] owners over the years, we decided we would contact them and ask them to allow access to homes for private events,” said Michael Miner, chief executive and founder of the organization, who has made documentaries about Wright.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Why his Los Angeles houses deserve a closer look »

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Visitors may tour the George and Millie Ablin House, shown here in 2004, on July 14.
(Los Angeles Times)

The houses, many in the Usonian style and named for the people who built them, include two in Southern California that have never been open to the public, Miner said. It’s a treat for the architect’s fans who want to visit every Wright building still standing in the U.S., which number about 350 to 400 sites.

Here’s the lineup of residential tours; visitors should purchase tickets in advance.

►2:30 p.m. July 13: The Wilbur Pearce House in Bradbury, about 25 miles northeast of downtown L.A., which has a sweeping arched facade with floor-to-ceiling windows. The house is described as being in “pre-restored” state. Tour members will get to meet the owners’ grandson, Konrad Pearce.

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►2:30 P.m. July 14: The George and Millie Ablin House in Bakersfield is described as a Usonian concept house, low-cost houses that “were flat-roofed, usually of one floor placed on a heated concrete foundation mat,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. It was designed in 1958, a year before his death.

Handout photo from 1954 for obit of Morris Pynoos. Morris Pynoos (on right) with Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright, center, with his grandson Eric Wright, left, and Morris Pynoos at the groundbreaking for the Barnsdall Park exhibition gallery in 1954.
(Los Angeles Times)

►2:30 p.m. July 20: The Bazett-Frank House tour in Hillsborough will feature the owners’ sons Laurence and Oliver Frank as well as professor Paul Turner, author of “Frank Lloyd Wright & San Francisco.” Here you’ll be able to lie down in the famed “mummy room,” the smallest bedroom ever designed by Wright.

►2:30 p.m. July 27: Maynard Buehler House in Orinda is another Usonian, with a flat roof and an L-shaped plan, designed in 1948.

►5:30 p.m. July 28: Guests at the Robert Berger House in San Anselmo, designed and built in the 1950s, will be met by current owner James Rega and the owner’s daughter, Suzanne Berger. This tour includes a wine pour.

In 1923, Wright briefly had an office in Los Angeles before packing up and moving back to Wisconsin. His local legacy includes the Hollyhock House in Hollywood, built for Aline Barnsdall and named for its stylized floral motif. The Barnsdall Park home is open to the public ($7 for adults).

Other block-style Wright homes in L.A. include the Ennis House in Los Feliz as well as the Freeman House (owned by USC) and the Storer House, both in Hollywood.

Info: Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative

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