February 13, 2015, will mark the official reopening of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Hollyhock House, an iconic architectural masterpiece in the heart of the artistic, cultural, and recreational Barnsdall Art Park. To mark the occasion, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council Member Mitch O’Farrell of L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs will lead an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Following this, for one night only, the City of Los Angeles and the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation will open Hollyhock House for self-guided tours for 24 hours. Visitors are invited to enjoy the event and share with others via social media with the #WrightAtNight hashtag.
“Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is a crown jewel of Los Angeles architecture," said Mayor Garcetti. “Restoring this landmark to its original glory is a great example of how the city can preserve its unique history while providing Angelenos access to art in everyday places."
A significant part of L.A.’s storied architectural history, the Hollyhock House was one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent masterpieces. It boasts a lyrical and poetic style of architecture: “California Romanza,” or “freedom to make one’s own form,” which complements the city's significance as a trendsetter in arts and architecture. Underscoring its importance as one of the world’s architectural gems, Hollyhock House is now on the tentative list of the first modern architecture nominations from the United States to the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
“The Hollyhock House at Barnsdall Art Park is a cultural and historical gem in the City of Los Angeles, and I am thrilled that this architectural masterpiece is restored and ready to reopen,” said Mitch O’Farrell, chair of the city’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging, and Los Angeles River Committee. “I want to thank my staff and the city departments who collaborated together and moved this project forward so that every Angeleno who visits the Hollyhock House can appreciate its beauty both inside and out.”
The storied history of Hollyhock House begins with Aline Barnsdall, a Pennsylvanian oil heiress interested in producing theater in her own venue. Purchasing a 36-acre site in Hollywood known as Olive Hill in 1919, Barnsdall commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a theater where she could produce avant-garde plays. Soon after, the project morphed into a performing arts complex that included her residence. Construction on the project began in 1919 and ended in 1921 when Barnsdall fired Wright, citing costs as the primary reason for the contract’s termination. At the time, Frank Lloyd Wright was already an established architect, who was concurrently working on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.
A philanthropist, art collector, political radical, and single parent, Barnsdall deeded the land now known as Barnsdall Park and its Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures as a permanent home for the appreciation of art and architecture to the City of Los Angeles in 1927. In doing so, she provided an accessible arts center to the community that incorporated and preserved the famous Hollyhock House as a crucial component. Aline Barnsdall’s pioneering vision gave birth to the California Modernism movement and helped grow the careers of notable architects including Wright, Schindler, and Neutra, all of whom were instrumentally involved in the project.
The house has served various purposes, including a 15-year run as the headquarters of the California Art Club beginning in 1927. After a major restoration by the City in1974, it became a public museum. It was among the first structures to be designated as a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in 1963. In 2007 it became a National Historic Landmark.
After many incarnations, Hollyhock House is reclaiming its former glory. Hollyhock House is the first house of Wright’s second period and his first residence in Southern California. Named for Barnsdall’s favorite flower, the Hollyhock is incorporated throughout the design scheme of the residence.
The recently completed restoration is an important historical revelation for first-time visitors and regulars alike. Visitors will be able to see and experience the house in much of its original splendor. Floors, windows, doors, decorative molding, and long-forgotten paint colors have been recreated with utmost attention to detail. The latest phase of renovation took place from 2008-2014 with a total of $4,359,000 spent on conservation efforts.