Robert G. Walton House, 1957
Some people say Frank Lloyd Wright encouraged people to "go out as far as you can, and then go ten miles farther" in selecting a home site and it seems that the Waltons took his advice to heart. Even today, decades after it was built, this residence is on the fringe of the town of Modesto, California.
It was designed in 1957 for Robert and Mary Walton and completed in 1961 (after Wright's death).
The house is a single-story Usonian-style home, with six bedrooms, a playroom, and three bathrooms in 3,513 square feet. Although it is large, it's a modest home in appearance, with strong horizontal lines and set up to support an informal lifestyle. It is one of Wright's last residential projects and a good example of his late work.
The house is organized into three distinct areas. The main family area (living room, kitchen, and family room) is on the north side. The semi-private master bedroom, bath, and study are on the west, and the third area includes five bedrooms and two baths.
It uses concrete flooring throughout, with a layout built on a 32-inch module, with all elements being that size or even fractions of it. The floor is laid out in 32-inch squares, and the cinderblock walls are 8 by 4 inches. The concrete floor extends out of the house to form the exterior patios.
Architects at Taliesin West also designed mahogany furniture for the house, including chairs, tables, ottomans, shelves and even bunk beds for the kids.
A clerestory window runs the length of the front wall. Combined with a concrete block wall, it isolates the house from the road. The fascia of the flat roof is decorated with a geometric pattern. Typical of Wright's houses, the kitchen is small, but the actual size is augmented by at two-story tower with a skylight at its east end. Even though the Waltons had six children, Wright's design allowed Mary Walton to work in the kitchen and laundry with a view of the family room, where she could keep the kids in sight.
The house is still owned by the Walton family.
More About the Walton House - and More of California's Wright Sites
The Walton House is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the application documents, it "retains excellent integrity. There have been no major changes to either the exterior or interior and very few minor alterations. It retains its original design, materials, furniture, and finishes."
What You Need to Know
The Robert G. Walton House is located at 417 Hogue Road in Modesto, CA.
The Walton House is a private residence and no tours are given. It is visible from the road. However, Wright set the house back from the road for privacy and a telephoto lens is a big help in getting a good picture.
If you want to see what it looks like inside, you can find some photographs on Contentment.
More of the Wright Sites
Wright's Usonian houses were designed for middle-income families, they featured indoor-outdoor connections and were often built in an "L" shape: Hanna House (which is based on an octagon), Sydney Bazett House, Buehler House, Randall Fawcett House, Sturges House, Arthur Mathews House, and the Kundert Medical Clinic in San Luis Obispo (which is based on a Usonian House design).
The Walton House isn't the only Wright site outside California's metro areas. You'll also find several houses, a church, and a medical clinic in some of the most unexpected places. You can also see Wright Sites in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco area.
Modesto may not be the first place you think of for modern architecture, but the Heckendorf House, a 1939 design by John Funk grabbed national attention. In fact, it was featured in a 1942 exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern art alongside works by LeCorbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Richard Neutra.