As part of Modernism Week’s wide array of preservationist-focused events, Save Iconic Architecture’s party was a fitting way to celebrate the area’s history this past Saturday. Owner John McIlwee opened up the sprawling 1978 Gerald and Betty Ford estate, designed by Welton Becket at the Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, to support and celebrate Jaime Rummerfield and Ron Woodson’s preservation efforts in Los Angeles.

“We love our city, and we want to keep that heritage and memory at the forefront,” Woodson told guests at the dinner.

The location provided a fascinating case study of rehabilitating historic spaces. After McIlwee purchased the estate from the Ford family in 2012, following Betty’s death in 2011, “a lot of what we did was just fine-tuning the things that should have been done,” he explained during the party. In addition to hearing about the evening’s cause, the crowd was eager to learn about the residence’s original Laura Mako interiors, which had been sensitively updated by Marmol Radziner. “I feel strongly that unless something is bad, there’s no reason to get rid of it,” McIlwee noted, pointing to the brown floor tiling used throughout the home that was a point of contention during the renovation. Most recently, the interiors have been rehabilitated by designer Darren Brown.

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