For genius American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the legendary Hollyhock House was probably a bit of a disappointment.
Commissioned by Aline Barnsdall in 1919 to build a theater complex that included the two existing structures (that together are now a National Historic Landmark), Wright never completed the project. In fact, he got fired in 1921 due to Barnsdall's lack of funds!
But two years had already been enough time for Wright to put his indelible stamp on the Hollyhock House, the first residence that the architect designed in Los Angeles. Planned as a large performing arts complex that would also serve as a home for Barnsdall and her children, what remains now is a stunning example of what Wright called "California Romanza."
The exterior of Hollyhock House, located in the heart of Hollywood — Photo courtesy of Joshua White Photography / Hollyhock House
That style of architecture – which Wright characterized as the "freedom to make one’s own form" – later expanded into the famed movement known as California Modernism.
In fact, Hollyhock House is currently one of 10 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that are the first works of modern architecture nominated by the U.S. to be honored with a position on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
The burnished entry into Hollyhock House — Photo courtesy of Joshua White Photography / Hollyhock House
Hollyhock House closed to the public in 2008 for complete renovation, when over $4 million was raised via private contributions as well as grants from the California Cultural and Historic Endowment and the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program.
It took seven years to bring the concrete, Mayan-influenced house back to its original glory. Everything from the floors, windows, doors, decorative moldings and even paint colors have been painstakingly restored – and the result is an architectural masterpiece.
The living room of the architectural treasure Hollyhock House — Photo courtesy of Joshua White Photography / Hollyhock House
The Hollyhock House complex – which consists of the main Barnsdall home, one secondary residence and the integrated gardens (The planned theater, director’s house, dormitory for actors, studios for artists, shops and a motion picture theater were never completed. One other residence was razed in the 1950s.) – is located in the Los Feliz section of L.A.
It's part of the larger Barnsdall Art Park, 11 acres of land that encompass the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Barnsdall Art Center, the Junior Art Center, Barnsdall Gallery Theatre and Hollyhock House.
An interior view of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House in Los Angeles — Photo courtesy of Joshua White Photography / Hollyhock House
Visitors are welcome from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday to Sunday; tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free for children under 12 accompanied by an adult. Cash is not accepted for payment.
Expect to stand in line, as this is a very popular attraction since reopening in February 2015. Pick up a "Walk Wright In" self-guided tour guide and explore the home, looking particularly at the recurring hollyhock motifs repeated throughout. That flower was Aline Barnsdall's favorite, so Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated it into all of his designs.
Note that the furniture as well as the leaded glass windows are part of Wright's overall vision. And be sure to check out the spectacular view from the Music Room, where the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory are prominent features, and remember that neither one existed when this spectacular home was built.
The large library at Hollyhock House in Los Angeles — Photo courtesy of Joshua White Photography / Hollyhock House