Have you ever wanted to stand in the middle of a Frank Lloyd Wright home and marvel at the architectural genius' designs and unique style? This is your chance, Bakersfield.
The George and Millie Ablin House, located at 4260 Country Club Drive, will be part of a five-home tour showcasing some of the humble abodes Wright built in California, sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative.
The informal tour at the Bakersfield residence will begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $150 per tour, $100 for American Institute of Architects members and $25 for students and can be purchased at http://flwrevivalinitiative.org/2019-events. Tours are limited to 50 people, and children under 8 are not permitted.
Michael Miner, chief executive and founder of the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative, said each of the tours will include wine for guests, be led by a special guest — well-known architect Arthur Dyson for the Bakersfield tour — and be a casual gathering.
"If people want, they can see things on their own," he said. "If they want other people to come and they have questions, they can ask them."
Guests can also enter a raffle to win a collectors' print.
This is the first time many of the homes will be open to the public, Miner added. Other homes on the tour include the Wilbur Pearce House, Bazett/Frank House, Maynard Buehler House and Robert Berger House.
Having Wright design a home for the original owners, George and Millie Ablin, was a dream they never thought would be a reality. Both from the Midwest, the couple saw several of Wright's designs throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, and they fell in love with his style.
They took a leap of faith, Robin Ablin, their son, explained, and his mother sent Wright a letter to see if he would ever consider designing a home for them and their seven children.
"They were Wright fans and aficionados," Robin Ablin said. "When it came time to build their own house, they thought, 'Why not get Frank?'"
To their surprise, he agreed. The home was designed in 1958, a year before Wright's death, and the family moved in in 1961.
Robin Ablin was 4 years old when he first moved in, and one thing that stood out to him was Wright's signature cardinal and salmon red color.
"I still remember opening the door and the sun coming in the windows facing east and the floors were this bright orange and red color," he said.
Robin Ablin also said his mother pushed many of the designs seen in the home, which contradicts Wright's reputation of being the sole creator of his designs. Some areas that needed improving from his original design included the kitchen, playroom and doorways.
"It has a very unusual kitchen for a Wright house. He’s known for crummy kitchens because he didn’t cook and didn’t care," Robin Ablin said. "My mother was a very strong character. She said, 'Frank, you’re a genius and all, but you don’t know about kitchens.'"
Sian Winship, president of the Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter, describes the home as a "hexagonal-Usonian," or homes that are typically single-story with a flat roof, and the fundamental unit of design is the equilateral triangle.
"The house is an evolved example of Wright’s 'breaking the box' in plan which clearly delineates the public/private and adult/children’s spaces in wings offset from the central hearth and kitchen volume," Winship wrote in an email. "The house also expresses Wright’s delicate manipulation of compression and expansion of space guiding the visitor along a low, concrete battered wall on the exterior and overhang with an explosion of light and space from a dramatic 16-foot high, 48-foot expanse of glass on the inside to views of the mountains and golf course."
David Coffey, who has been taking care of the home for the past 10 years, said it is one of a kind because all of the furniture was designed for the home and "the windows and the concrete blocks that hold them, while typical of Frank Lloyd Wright, are unique to the Ablin house."
George and Millie Ablin lived there until their deaths in 1999 and 2001, respectively, and now it is owned by Michael Glick. According to the book, "Frank Lloyd Wright on the West Coast," the home is occasionally used for meetings, conferences and research by Wright scholars.
Robin Ablin said his parents never revealed how much it cost to build, but "my dad understood it was a great real estate investment and it would always be appreciated."
Miner agrees. That is why he is on a mission to help restore many of Wright's buildings and push tours like this one so people can appreciate his designs.
"It’s very reassuring to see that people recognize him as the genius he was," he said. "All you got to do is get a person in a Wright building, and you have a fan for life. They recognize it and it changes their life."
Robin Ablin said he is unable to attend the tour. "I’ve been there before," he said with a laugh.
To learn more about the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative and home tours, visit http://flwrevivalinitiative.org.