Lloyd M. Bentsen House, McAllen, 1952, Kenneth Bentsen

The charisma of the California ranch house is visible in the expansive one-story house that the real estate developer, banker, rancher, and citrus grower Lloyd M. Bentsen and his wife Dolly commissioned their son, Kenneth, then an architecture student at the University of Houston, to design for them southwest of McAllen in 1952.

Ben Hill’s photographs—this is what the Bentsen House looks like today—capture the modern regionalist nuances and the tectonic rigor that Bentsen, who called on his design instructor at UH, Edmund Furley, for guidance, incorporated into the design of his parent’s house. The curved, Thomas Church-like contours of the swimming pool, played off against the warm tones of Mexican adobe brick walls, the horizontal extension of the low-pitched, wood-shake roof, and the gestural profiles of the slender Washingtonia palm trees and branching mesquite trees construct in Ben Hill’s photographs the compelling image of Modern Tropical Paradise that the photographers Ulric Meisel and Frank Lotz Miller had picked up on sixty years earlier.

Lloyd M. Bentsen House, McAllen, 1952, Kenneth Bentsen2Lloyd M. Bentsen House, McAllen, 1952, Kenneth Bentsen3Lloyd M. Bentsen House, McAllen, 1952, Kenneth Bentsen4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Ben Hill  and text by Stephen Fox

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