The view and ceiling in the living room of the John Lautner home on this weekend’s Idyllwild Home tour. Photo by John Drake

The 11th Annual Idyllwild Home Tour will be 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Each year, the Idyllwild Area Historical Society (IAHS) showcases five dwellings, whose owners open their doors for the public to explore our mountain lifestyles.

This year, the award-winning IAHS is proud to present a little-known John Lautner-designed house in this, the centennial year of his birth. Perched above Marion Creek, its characteristically unorthodox design blends forest and living space, echoing Idyllwild’s other Lautner gem, the famous Pearlman cabin.

Lautner, an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, was one of the last century’s important contemporary American architects. His work was concerned with the relationship of the human being to space and of space to nature. “Shelter,” he said, “is the most basic human need.”

Lautner practiced architecture for more than 55 years, designing unusual and unique residences in and near Los Angeles, including the Elrod residence in Palm Springs.

Idyllwild is distinguished by the endless variety of its homes. With the San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop, homeowners have built or lovingly restored stunning abodes, from storybook cottages tucked away in the forest to sprawling estates that capture breathtaking vistas.

Along with the house by Lautner, a second mid-century modern jewel, newly designed and built, blends indoor and outdoor Idyllwild living to convey the feeling of a treehouse in the forest.

Two 1930s classics represent Idyllwild’s past. One retains its original character and furnishings, giving a glimpse of the simplicity of life in that earlier era. The other, extensively modernized through remodeling, features a garden leading into the forest landscape beyond.

The fifth house, also newly built, uses an isolated, steep mountainside site to provide a comfortable retreat from everyday cares, with end-of-the-world views spanning Southern California from high peaks to ocean shores.

This event is the all-volunteer Idyllwild Area Historical Society’s primary fundraiser each year, and all proceeds support its mission of preserving and sharing San Jacinto mountain history.

Tickets, $20 each, will be available at the booth in front of the Idyllwild Monument on the tour day, Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. They may also be purchased in advance at the IAHS Museum between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Friday. For further information, call (951) 317-4613.