Occasionally, the lavish exploits of a wealthy heiress prove golden. Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, commissioned by philanthropic Aline Barnsdall, beneficiary of the Barnsdall Oil Company fortune, is a prime example. The house was central to Barnsdall's vision of an arts and theater complex, though the full-scale project was never completed. Now a National Historic Landmark, the house forms the nucleus of Barnsdall Art Park which approaches actualization of its former owner's initial objective.
One of Wright's first undertakings in California, the structure represents a modern take on Mayan temple architecture, with exotic stele and bas relief sculpture adorning its façade. Though stout, Prairie Style horizontals still permeate its silhouette, a design Wright described as California Romanza. Barnsdall's affinity for the hollyhock plant is apparent through Wright's Mesoamerican meanderings: abstracted hollyhock motifs pop up everywhere, from stained glass windows to the prominent roofline. Hence the moniker, Hollyhock House.
Since its inception in 1921, and subsequent donation to the city of Los Angeles in 1927, the Hollyhock House has undergone a stream of functional facelifts. Once converted into an art gallery, the residence has been thoroughly refurbished, complete with reproductions of Wright's interior furnishings as they would have originally appeared. And although it seems a solid, fortress-like mass on the exterior, its corner windows, garden courtyard, and rooftop terrace allow the outdoors entry. Public tours of the space are now offered from Wednesday through Sunday, inviting visitors to discover some of the ingenious designs that earned Wright a place as America's greatest architect.
- Wednesday through Sunday: 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm
- General Admission: $7
- Under 17: $2, or free if accompanied by an adult
- Seniors: $3
- Metro Stop:
- Metrorail Red Line's Vermont Station (at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Sunset Boulevard)
- Location: 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
- Phone: 323-644-6269
- Website: www.hollyhockhouse.net