Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright built seven private homes in Los Angeles. Hollyhock House, constructed from 1919–21 and recently restored and reopened to the public, was his first. It was commissioned by iconoclastic heiress Aline Barnsdall, a feminist, bohemian producer of experimental theatre, and a single mother by choice at time when the notion was practically unheard of.
The relationship between architect and client was tumultuous, to say the least! You can learn more about the ups and down of the project, including Wright’s firing, by clicking here. We were charmed by the home’s sophisticated elegance, including lavish use of warm woods and grand-sized formal rooms that surely seem fit for an heiress, but apparently Barnsdall didn’t share our enthusiasm! Suffice it to say that other than for a few short stints, Barnsdall and her daughter never really settled in to live in the property, which they deeded to the city of Los Angeles in 1927.
Photo by Elizabeth Daniels
The home is located in what is now the 11-acre Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and enjoy the grounds before your tour. Young children will be delighted by the house’s resemblance to a castle on a hill. Teens who have studied ancient cultures and archaeological sites may be able to recognize Mesoamerican influences in the structure. And grownups will appreciate how the house was designed to take advantage of LA’s temperate climate and the site’s fantastic views, which unfold via a series of outdoor spaces that adjoin every interior room. Here is an excellent ‘virtual tour’ from Curbed LA.
The house is named for the favorite flower of Aline Barnsdall. At her request, hollyhocks were incorporated into the decorative program of the house, and it’s fun to hunt for the stylized representations of the stalky flower that can be found on numerous concrete details, wood lighting fixtures, the carpets, and even the light poles surrounding the property.
The house is open Thursday–Sunday, 11am–4 pm (last entry is at 3:15 pm). Free parking is available on site. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for students & seniors with ID, and $3 for children under 12 when accompanied by a paying adult. Click here for a full calendar of events in Barnsdall Park, including children’s art workshop, farmers markets, and screening series.
Hollyhock House // 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90027 // 323-913-4031
Photos by jwpictures.com
Article by Stacey Ravel Abarbanel
To read the other articles in this series about LA architecture, click here for Schindler House and here for Eames House.