Since my recent tour of Schindler House re-sparked my curiosity in Modern Architecture in Los Angeles, I realized that I was long overdue for a trip to Hollyhock House built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1919-1921.
The house is a precursor to the Rudolph Schindler House that was built in 1922 in West Hollywood as Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright were overseeing construction on Hollyhock (Even Richard Neutra was involved in work on the home). You can feel and see some of the direct lines of inspiration from one to the other. Schindler actually went back in 1925 to finish the the design and construction of the upstairs including the master bedroom.
Aline Barnsdall hired Frank Lloyd Wright to build Hollyhock in 1919. She purchased 32 acres of “Olive Hill” and had the house built on it’s peak. She had knew that it would lend itself to a grand view of Los Angeles but unbeknownst to her at the time that it would be one of the best views. From the lawn area you can see the Hollywood sign (originally Hollywoodland and built in 1923), the Griffith Observatory (finished in 1935) and the Getty Center (built in 1997), as well as Ennis House – another Frank Lloyd Wright property built in 1924.
Originally it was conceived as an art and theatre complex for a theatrical community. The main house would sit on top at the center, a theatre and additional housing would be built to East side of the property (this part of the plan was realized in the 1970′s but with different architectural approaches). Only three of the proposed 7 buildings were actually built by Wright. Residence A sits off the the Northeast corner of the property and Residence B was long ago demolished for an apartment complex.
You can head up to the house on any day of the week with free park parking as the house sits just south of Los Feliz between Hollywood Blvd and Sunset and Edgemont and Vermont. Yeah…it’s closer than you think. You can walk around the exterior and spend time tossing a frisbee with your dog on the lawn or set up your easel and paint the inspired views. The tour to enter the house has limited times and days but is available most weekends for an hour tour for $7. Or visit the local goings on at the Barnsdall Art Complex.
For me the most facinating revelations were that the Barnsdall and Wright fought over the plans and the overages so badly that the house was not completed while she lived there and Aline actually moved with her daughter a few years later to the Residence B as she disliked the house so much. She then donated the land and the house to the city and had Schindler complete the upstairs so that the house was a finished product. The city has problems keeping up the property and it always seems to be under construction.
The second revelation was that it was not considered a major architectural gem in Wright’s career. In fact of the near 400 houses he built, this one is not always mentioned in articles and he wasn’t any more famous for creating it at the time. Clearly it ‘s a study in the future houses he was to create – matching indoor and outdoor spaces; building of stone walls; using water features inside and out; fully realizing the how a person will feel in each space by lowering and raising ceiling heights; cutting out perfect views and highlighting with natural light.
Take a tour because there is much to learn on the life, techniques and career of Frank Lloyd Wright in a quick hour of time.