ARTS & CULTURE

Here's Your Chance To Step Inside A Stunning, 1920s California Home By Frank Lloyd Wright

02/12/2015 11:17 am ET | Updated Feb 13, 2015

In 1919, Bohemian oil heiress, theater enthusiast and political radical Aline Barnsdall purchased the 36-acre park site now known as Barnsdall Park. She enlisted architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design the premises, his first in Los Angeles, as a sweeping complex for avant-garde theater, featuring an ambitious space for artists to live and work -- and a home for the Barnsdall and her daughter. However, Barnsdall fired Wright in 1921 due to, among other things, high costs and artistic differences. The complex remained unfinished, but Wright left behind the completed Barnsdall home, the Hollyhock House, a stunning paradigm of California modern design.

holly

Photo by Joshua White

Beginning in 2012, the Hollyhock House has undergone a painstaking renovation process, aimed to restore the dwelling to its original 1921 appearance. The house is no stranger to change. There was a 1946 renovation by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, a series of renovations in 1974 sponsored by the city, and the 1994 earthquake. Finally, after years of work and approximately $4.3 million dollars from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program, and the City of Los Angeles, the iconic house is slated to reopen its doors on February 13, 2015 to the public -- who will be donning protective booties over their shoes, of course.

The Hollyhock House's name comes from Barnsdall's love of hollyhock flowers, curator Jeffrey Herr explained to The Huffington Post. Barnsdall, an eccentric and theatrical character to say the least, enlisted Wright to channel the spirit of the flower into the home meant to be her living space, although she never actually lived there. Wright did just that, transforming the vertical, almost spine-like structure of the plant into a geometric pattern throughout the home. From the dining room chairs to the mantle over the fireplace, hollyhock reproductions manifest themselves in an almost pixelated fashion, combining geometry and nature to striking effect.

holly

Photo by Joshua White

While hesitant to call the abode the original California ranch house, Herr emphasized the role this building's structure had on the future of California modern design. Alternating between compression and release, Wright informed visitors of changing rooms without the use of walls or doors. This open air mentality worked to dissolve the space between the exterior and interior, a technique reminiscent of Japan's garden houses.

This wasn't all coincidence. Wright designed the house remotely while living in Japan. Of course, the always temperate Los Angeles weather made such a design practical for Wright for the first time. Chicago garden houses, we can safely say, probably would not have caught on. Wide open spaces, subtle transitions and easy outdoor access continue to define California's signature architectural aesthetic to this day. However, other details, such as the water-filled moat surrounding the fireplace, didn't quite catch on.

For the restoration, Herr, along with a devoted team, spent countless hours returning the Hollyhock House back to its 1920s glory, from the wall moldings to the bas-reliefs to the paint color. As you may expect, such tasks were not taken lightly. For example, to achieve the particular hue of the forest green walls, the team needed to engineer a chemical formula that exactly resembled those used in the original 1920s paint, which have now been banned by California. And to get the golden glisten on top, they crafted a formula of mica, a mineral, suspended in alcohol.

holly

Photo by Joshua White

"I feel pretty damn good," Herr told Los Angeles Magazine. "We have done so much to restore the major public areas to their 1921 appearance. For anyone who knows the house, it will be a revelation. For anyone who doesn’t know the house, my hope is that they’ll walk in and go, 'This is great, what did they do?' That’s the sign of a really good restoration."

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell will attend a ribbon cutting on February 13 at 4 p.m., at which time the legendary space will be open to the public, followed by a 24-hour period where guests can take self-guided tours of the house. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 students, seniors and children under 12. After the opening, the Hollyhock House will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the same prices.

Also on HuffPost:

  • Robie House
    Flickr:mach3
    Location: Chicago
    Built: 1908-1910
    More info

    Created for Wright's client Frederick C. Robie, the building sits on the campus of the University of Chicago.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
    AP
    Location: Oak Park, Ill.
    Built: 1889
    More info

    This undated photo provided by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust shows the exterior of the studio side of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.
  • Arthur and Grace Huertley House
    (AP Photo/Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, James Caulfield)
    Location: Oak Park, Ill.
    Built: 1902
    More info

    The Arthur and Grace Huertley house is just a few doors away from the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. The Village of Oak Park is home to 29 Wright structures, the largest number of Wright designs built in any one city in the world.
  • Fallingwater
    Bill Bachmann via Getty Images
    Location: Mill Run, Penn.
    Built: 1936-1939
    More info

    The stunning home was built partly over a waterfall in the Allegheny Mountains area of Pennsylvania. The Smithsonian has listed the home among the "28 Places to See Before You Die."
  • Taliesin West
    Flickr:Brenda Blue
    Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Built: 1937-1959
    More info

    Wright built the Scottsdale, Ariz. residence to use as his personal winter home -- which also served as a studio and architectural campus -- until his death at age 89.
  • Taliesin, Wis.
    Flickr:goingslo
    Location: Spring Green, Wis.
    Built: 1911-1959
    More info

    This Spring Green home serves as one of the architect's personal residences. Wright continuously changed the home and the surrounding landscape for years following the initial construction.
  • Darwin D. Martin House
    Biff Henrich/Darwin Martin Home
    Location: Buffalo, N.Y.
    Built: 1903-1905
    More info

    Wright once called his Darwin D. Martin house in Buffalo, N.Y. "the most perfect thing of its kind in the world -- a domestic symphony, true, vital, comfortable."
  • Price Tower
    Flickr:ercwttmn
    Location: Bartlesville, Okla.
    Built: 1952-1956
    More info

    Wright's only realized skyscraper now serves as a National Historic Landmark and houses a museum, hotel and bar inside.
  • Hollyhock House
    Flickr:joevare
    Location: Los Angeles
    Built 1919 - 1921
    More info

    The home was originally designed for oil heiress and philanthropist Aline Barnsdall. Like many Wright homes, Hollyhock is now a National Historic Landmark.
  • Guggenheim Museum
    Flickr:blink
    Location: New York City
    Built: 1949-1953
    More info

    In 1943, Hilla Rebay, the curator of the Guggenheim Foundation and director of the museum, instructed Wright in a letter, "I want a temple of spirit, a monument!" The New York museum took 16 years to complete.
  • Unity Temple, Oak Park, Ill.
    Flickr:crazyegg95
    Location: Oak Park, Ill.
    Built: 1905–1908
    More info

    Wright got the commission to build the Unitarian Universalist church when he was only 38 years old. Of the building Wright reportedly said, "That was my first expression of this eternal idea which is at the center and core of all true modern architecture. A sense of space, a new sense of space."
  • Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, Ill.
    Flickr:aka Kath
    Location: Springfield, Ill.
    Built: 1902-1904
    More info

    The home in Illinois' capital was built for patron Susan Lawrence Dana and combined aesthetics of both Japanese prints and the Illinois prairie.
  • Wingspread
    Flickr:Payton Chung
    Location: Wind Point, Wisc.
    Built: 1936-1939
    More info

    Herbert Fisk Johnson commissioned Wright to design his home after Wright created the headquarters for the S.C. Johnson & Son company. Wingspread, a 14,000-foot home, was completed in 1939.
  • Weltzheimer/Johnson House
    Flickr:istolethetv
    Location: Oberlin, Ohio
    Built: 1948-1949
    More info

    The Weltzheimer/Johnson House sits a few blocks away from the campus of Oberlin College and is operated as part of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
  • Pope-Leighey House
    Flickr:cliff1066%u2122
    Location: Alexandria, Va.
    Built: 1941
    More info

    This 1,200-square foot Alexandria, Virginia home was commissioned by journalist Loren Pope in 1939. Its second owner, Marjorie Leighey, donated the home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  • Stockman House
    Flickr:PamelaVWhite
    Location: Mason City, Iowa
    Built: 1909
    More info

    Built for George C. & Eleanor Stockman, the house was an "iteration" of the architect's Fireproof House for $5,000, featured in the April 1907 issue of the Ladies' Home Journal.
  • Rosenbaum House
    Flickr:astrogrl
    Location: Florence, Ala.
    Built: 1939
    More info

    Built for newlyweds Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum, it is the only Wright home in Alabama.
  • Gordon House
    Flickr:Slideshow Bruce
    Location: Silverton, Ore.
    Built: 1963
    More info

    The only Wright building in Oregon, Gordon House was commissioned in 1957 and completed in 1963, four years after Wright's death.
  • William H. Danforth Chapel at Florida Southern College
    Associated Press
    Location: Lakeland, Fla.
    Built: 1955 (completed)
    More info

    The William H. Danforth Chapel is part of the Florida Southern College Architectural District also known as Child of the Sun. The campus boasts the most Frank Lloyd Wright structures built on a single site.
  • Muirhead Farmhouse
    Location: Hampshire, Ill.
    Built: 1951
    More info

    Muirhead Farmhouse is the only known farmhouse designed and built by Wright during his lifetime.
  • Sutton House
    Location: McCook, Neb.
    Built: 1905-1908
    More info

    The Nebraska residence is one of the few homes west of the Mississippi River designed and built while Wright was alive.
  • Lloyd-Jones House, aka "Westhope"
    Location: Tulsa, Okla.
    Built: 1929
    More info

    Wright built this 10,000 square-foot home for his cousin, Tulsa Tribune publisher Richard Lloyd-Jones.
  • The Historic Park Inn Hotel
    Location: Mason City, Iowa
    Built: 1910 (completed)
    More info

    The Park Inn Hotel is the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel in the world (of which Wright was listed as the architect of record).
  • Bradley House
    Location: Kankakee, Ill.
    Built: 1900
    More info

    Bradley House was among the first Prairie School homes designed by Wright and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Gammage Auditorium
    Location: Tempe, Ariz.
    Built: 1962-1964
    More info

    The Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium on the campus of Arizona State University is considered to be Wright's last public commission.
  • David Wright Home
    (AP Photo/Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Scott Jarson, azarchitecture.com)
    Location: Phoenix
    Built: 1952
    More info: N/A

    This undated image provided by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy shows the home that Wright, the famous architect, built for his son in Phoenix.
  • Imperial Hotel
    WikiMedia:
    Location: Inuyama, Aichi, Japan
    Built: Various dates
    More info

    Though the '20s-era hotel suffered through a devastating earthquake on its opening day and WWII bombings, it was razed in 1968. Thankfully, portions of the hotel, including the grand entrance and lobby were saved and relocated to the Meiji Mura Museum.
  • (AP Photo/File)
    In this file photo of March 18, 1957, architect Frank Lloyd Wright visits Robie House, his 1909 Prairie style design, on Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago, Ill.
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS