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Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Commissioned by oil heiress, Aline Barnsdall and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (with late project assistance from Rudolf Schindler), the Hollyhock House was completed (not the overall project) as a Mayan/Japanese style that Wright bragged was his "California Romanza." Photo by Phyllis Adkisson Shess,
GUEST BLOG / By Hollyhock House was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles commission and an ode to California – its freedom and natural beauty. Built between 1919 and 1921 for Aline Barnsdall, the house introduced young architects Rudolf Schindler and Richard Neutra to Los Angeles. It is a harbinger of California Modernism, which came to include celebrated homes by all three visionaries that continue to impact the direction of residential design. Today, Hollyhock House is owned by the City of Los Angeles and operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Aline Barnsdall
ALINE BARNSDALL (1882–1946), an oil heiress, commissioned the house as the centerpiece of a cultural arts complex on Olive Hill, which was to include a major theater, cinema, artist residences, and commercial shops. For Hollyhock House—her personal residence, Barnsdall asked Wright to incorporate her favorite flower, the hollyhock, into the home’s design.

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (1867–1959), one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, was already famous by 1915 when Barnsdall approached him to build a theater for her experimental stage productions. The project provided Wright with an escape from the Chicago area and the personal scandals and tragedies that had befallen him there. He established an office in Los Angeles and divided his time between California and Japan, where he was building the Imperial Hotel.

The project was much more than a house; it was the vision of Aline Barnsdall to build an arts complex surrounded by a hilltop park and theatre.  All 36-original acres are shown here shortly after Hollyhock House was completed in late 1921.
The architect and client only partially realized Barnsdall’s visionary plan for a thriving art park in East Hollywood, which was then little more than a patchwork of citrus farms and the nascent film industry. Wright built just Hollyhock House and two guest houses. However, under city ownership, the park has grown into a vibrant arts center with a gallery, theater, and year-round art classes.

Living room, fireplace, and furnishings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Photo: Phyllis A. Shess
Hollyhock House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was inscribed on July 7, 2019 as one of eight Frank Lloyd Wright sites, spanning 50 years of Wright’s career. The collection represents the first modern architecture designation for the U.S. In addition to Hollyhock House (Los Angeles’s first World Heritage Site), the group inscription includes Unity Temple (constructed 1906-09, Oak Park, Illinois), the Frederick C. Robie House (constructed 1910, Chicago), Taliesin (begun 1911, Spring Green, Wisconsin), Fallingwater (constructed 1936-39, Mill Run, Pennsylvania), the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House (constructed 1936-37, Madison, Wisconsin), Taliesin West (begun 1938, Scottsdale, Arizona), and the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, (completed 1959, New York).

Hollyhock dining room, including custom furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright
The Hollyhock House Virtual Accessibility Experience utilizes technology to increase access to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House and creates an immersive and inclusive experience for visitors of all abilities. This virtual tour is available remotely via a web browser and will soon be available onsite.

Exterior design element illustrates Mayan design influence and concrete structure.
Photos: Phyllis A. Shess, online daily magazine
The Hollyhock House Archive contains original drawings and blueprints detailing plans for the ambitious arts complex that was partially realized by Aline Barnsdall and her architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This digital archive currently holds 81 digitized documents related to the history of the Hollyhock House.


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