Legendary Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur: A Testament to Redwood’s Strength and Durability

November 7th, 2012 by jhewitt

The Nepenthe Restaurant, perched high on a cliff along the spectacular Monterey coastline in Big Sur, California, has been a landmark since 1949. This famous restaurant, founded by Bill and Lolly Fassett, was constructed with native redwood and adobe bricks. Bill and Lolly had a vision that their restaurant, set in this place of unparalled natural beauty, and made of native materials, would allow people the opportunity to relax, dream and be inspired. They worked with Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and renowned Big Sur builders Frank and Walter Trotter to make their dream a reality.

“Nepenthe”, according to Greek mythology, means “isle of no cares”, and it has been a respite for many local artists and traveling guests over the years. Famed as a favorite of such greats as writer Henry Miller and actor Steve McQueen, it was also the site for the filming of the 1965 classic movie “The Sandpiper” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The restaurant is now 63 years old, a legendary testament to the lasting vision of Lolly Fassett, who, according to her granddaughter, Romney Steele, believed in “the aesthetics and poetry of place”, and that structural design should be done with “a respect for materials, for the grand view, and for the artistry and craft of building”. Redwood, as the primary building material chosen by the Fassetts and their architect, fulfilled Lolly’s grand view of integrating form with natural surroundings, and has stood the tests of time and weather, its natural strength and durability unsurpassed.

For ideas on how you can create your own vision for building using naturally strong and beautiful Mendocino Redwood, please visit our Plans & Inspiration page.