Lecture on master architect Lilian J. Rice kicks off educational lecture series for Fairbanks Ranch residents

Diane Welch
(Leslie Hoffman)

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., longtime Fairbanks Ranch homeowners Mike and Lori Conger will host and present "The Life and Times of Lilian J. Rice." The lecture, by Rice biographer Diane Y. Welch, will take place in the Fairbanks Ranch Association Clubhouse; complimentary wine and appetizers are available to attendees. This is a free event open to all.

Welch, who has received numerous awards for her work and her published books on the obscure Depression-era lady architect, will present a visual presentation on the life and works of Rice and touch on her connection with Fairbanks Ranch, which was formerly known as Rancho Zorro in the 1920s then home to famed Hollywood couple Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford.

Rice was recently juried into the first-ever online directory of American female architects, "Pioneering Women of American Architecture." All of these women were born before 1940 at a time when they struggled to be allowed entry into the architectural profession and to get rightful recognition for their work.

In the 1920s Rice designed the Fairbanks Ranch’s original building which housed the irrigation pumps. The pump house is currently located next to the dam. Its Spanish colonial-type design demonstrates Rice’s signature simple aesthetic principle: rather than dominate the landscape her buildings enhance it in a quiet way.

Adding to the historical significance of Fairbanks Ranch is Casa Zorro, a home designed by architect Wallace Neff, which still exists in its original condition located adjacent to the creek flowing from the dam. 

Welch’s books on Rice will be available for order after the lecture.

Contact Lori Conger via email to RSVP and to gain entry into the ranch at

Fairbanks Ranch Association Clubhouse is located at 17651 Circa Del Norte, Rancho Santa Fe, 92091.