Hollyhock House – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hilltop Temple

Hollyhock House © Kayte Deioma

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Hollyhock House
4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
www.barnsdall.org

Hollyhock House, located in Barnsdall Art Park on top of Olive Hill in the Los Feliz/East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, is the first house that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Los Angeles. The American Institute of Architects has recognized it as one of the most significant structures of the 20th century. It was the seventh building in Los Angeles to be declared a National Historic Landmark (2007).

The park is located on Hollywood Boulevard at Vermont, but you can’t see the Hollyhock House from the street, since it’s surrounded by trees. There is a parking lot next to Hollywood Blvd, with the entrance near the corner of Edgemont. You can also drive up through the parking lot and find spots along the loop road that circles the top of the hill.

The house is operated by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. After being closed for several years for major renovations, the house is open for self-guided tours. The entrance is through the Visitor Center on the loop road, which is connected to the main house via a long pergola. There is no photography allowed inside. See the website for hours and admission.

Background

The striking building was a commission from oil heiress, theatre aficionado and social activist Aline Barnsdall, who planned for the house to be part of an art and theatre colony.  It was like pulling teeth for her to get the design out of Wright, who was otherwise occupied building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo during the entire construction time from 1919 to 1921.

He was trying to make an international comeback after multiple personal scandals in the US. Final features of the Hollyhock House were actually designed by another famous name in LA architecture, Rudolph Schindler, who Wright brought from Chicago to work on the project. Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, also worked on the original construction, even before he later qualified as an architect. Barnsdall eventually fired Wright, but brought Schindler and Lloyd Wright back to finish the job.

Hollyhock House

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The hollyhock was Barnsdall’s favorite flower, and Wright’s design incorporates multiple variations of a geometric hollyhock motif on on textured concrete blocks called textile blocks and also in the stained-glass windows, carpets and furnishings. Exterior walls cantilevered slightly inward give a vague interpretation of a Mayan temple, leading some to call the architectural style Mayan Revival, but Wright called it California Romanza. Water flowed from a square pool in front of the house under the building into a moat around the fireplace and back out into a water feature in the courtyard. Like many of Wright’s concepts, that didn’t work out so well, having a tendency to flood the living room.

Hollyhock House © Kayte Deioma

The moat around the fireplace at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Nothing about the final design and construction of the 17-room house was very practical or comfortable, so Aline Barnsdall and her daughter never really lived in the house. With the cost overruns and the lack of a solid design for the theatre, she gave up on the arts colony idea and started work on donating the house to the City of LA before it was even finished. The City rejected the donation initially, but in 1927 the property was transferred with the condition that the California Art Club could lease the house for its headquarters for 15 years, and that Aline Barnsdall could stay in a smaller house on Olive Hill referred to as Residence B, which has since been demolished. She lived there until her death in 1946.

Hollyhock House © Kayte Deioma

The gallery at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

To create exhibit space in the house, the California Art Club knocked out two en suite guest rooms on the south side of the building to create a gallery, and that space currently has an exhibit of the original designs, drawings and history of the house.

Hollyhock House © Kayte Deioma

The atrium and patio at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

In the 1940s, Lloyd Wright was contracted to do some renovations and made some significant changes, including completely redoing the kitchen and turning the sun room into an open patio. He was brought back again in the 70’s to make further alterations. The current restoration of the first floor is predominantly back to the original 1921 Frank Lloyd Wright design, with the exception of Lloyd Wright’s 1940’s kitchen.

Here is a preview of the beautifully restored Hollyhock House and see some of the details that were uncovered, and some of the second floor spaces not open to the public.

An upstairs view at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

One of the bedrooms at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The dining room at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The kitchen at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The living room at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The music room at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Inside the front door at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Hollyhock House © Kayte Deioma

Entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Detail on the front door at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Hollyhock House © Kayte Deioma

A view of the Hollywood Sign from the walkway at the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

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Final Passage for the USS Iowa

USS Iowa

Final voyage of the battleship USS Iowa from Berth 51 to its new home at Berth 87 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA where it opened as a museum ship in July 2012.

When the historic battleship USS Iowa was tugged away from Berth 51 in San Pedro to its new permanent home at Berth 87 on Saturday, it carried not only the memory of the thousands of Navy seamen who served aboard the ship, but some of the men themselves. Ninety-two-year-old Bob Dedic was part of the original crew when the ship was commissioned in 1940, and was back again for this final voyage. So were other veterans and active Navy sailors who served on the ship during its 50-year tenure until it was decommissioned in 1990. There were also active Navy and Navy Sea Cadets as young as 14 all spruced up in their dress whites.

USS Iowa Final Voyage

Volunteers with the Pacific Battleship Center reel in the chains for the final voyage of the battleship USS Iowa from Berth 51 to its new home at Berth 87 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA

Dignitaries on board included Congresswoman Janice Hahn and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both beaming with pride in bringing the future museum ship to Los Angeles. I can tell you they were beaming, because I was on board too, along with a passel of TV crews, journalists and photographers invited to document and share this last hurrah.

Rescued from mothballs where she had been languishing in the Bay Area, the ship made the full 400 mile voyage to San Pedro under the push-pull of a team of tug boats, arriving in Los Angeles on May 30, 2012. She got a bottom scrubbing to remove any potentially invasive species or contaminants before being cleared for the final tow to her new home.

USS Iowa

Tugboats provide power and LA City Fire Boats provide fanfare fountains for the final voyage of the battleship USS Iowa from Berth 51 to its new home at Berth 87 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA

The volunteer crew from the Pacific Battleship Center cast off the chains and we set underway for the short journey accompanied by the twin brigantines Exy and Irving Johnson, as well as the tall ship the Spirit, sailing only under one sail to keep her speed down to ours. Two LA City Fire Boats at the bow and stern spouted water streams to martial arrangements of Anchors Away and Oh Shenandoah (an off choice, I thought) creative a festive spirit as we pulled away from land. A few dozen other sail boats, yachts and motorboats joined in the parade.

USS Iowa

Final voyage of the battleship USS Iowa from Berth 51 to its new home at Berth 87 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA where it opened as a museum ship in July 2012.

Along our path, close to 1000 people had gathered along the waterfront to welcome the USS Iowa to her new home. Our destination was only a mile away, but to add a little grandeur to the event, as well as better photo opportunities for us and the news ‘copters above, we paraded up the channel under the Vincent Thomas Bridge, where we paused briefly before resuming our tow in the reverse direction.

USS Iowa

Teenage Navy Sea Cadets in the Color Guard for the final voyage of the battleship USS Iowa from Berth 51 to its new home at Berth 87 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA where it openwd as a museum ship in July 2012.

Technical difficulties docking meant that we got to enjoy the marching band and cheering crowd that welcomed us from captive positions on the deck while Randy Newman’s I love LA blared from the ship’s speakers. Due to the delay, the young Sea Cadets never got to present the Color Guard during the truncated award ceremonies as proclamations and awards changed hands. They didn’t seem to mind. Having stood their posts proudly as the ship found its new home, they became part of history, documented by TV and news cameras and yours truly for posterity.

USS Iowa Final Voyage

Final voyage of the battleship USS Iowa from Berth 51 to its new home at Berth 87 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA where it opened as a museum ship in July 2012.

The USS Iowa is open to the public as a museum ship. For information and tickets, visit pacificbattleship.com.

A Taste of Art: A Bite-Size Visit to the Met

story and photos by Kayte Deioma

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest museums. Ironically, that’s why I hadn’t visited it in any of my previous trips to New York. I felt that a great art museum like the Louvre, the Prado or the Met deserves a full day to really appreciate its collections, and I’ve never stayed in New York long enough at one time to be willing to devote a whole day to one activity.

The Metropolitan Museum of ArtSince I was in New York this time with my sister and her kids, I decided that it was more important for the kids to get a taste of great art than to worry about not having time to see the whole thing, and thereby miss everything. We didn’t expect the kids to have the patience to stay in a museum more than a couple hours anyway.

I was much more relaxed once I gave myself permission to miss lots of wonderful stuff.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located in a massive Gothic-Revival building on Fifth Avenue along the western edge of Central Park. After getting our tickets, we went to the information booth in the center of the Great Hall to find out if there were any family programs scheduled that day. It was a Saturday, and we were in luck with a “Hello, Met!” family introduction to the museum scheduled an hour later.

With just an hour for exploration on our own, we chose to start with the Egyptian exhibit, with the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside Cairo.

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Becca takes the audio tour through the Egyptian exhibit at the Met.We rented the audio tour headsets, which I don’t usually do on my own, but it turned out to be great for the kids. It was easier for the younger ones than reading the information panels. As we moved through the colorful sarcophagi, carved limestone monuments and painted hieroglyphics, they really enjoyed punching in the numbers and having control over which descriptions they heard. There wasn’t a child-friendly version of the tour like there is some places, but they seemed to do just fine.

Becca was somewhat selective in which pieces she wanted to learn more about, but Sarah could have spent all day “listening to stories” and didn’t appreciate being hurried to keep up.

We hadn’t made it much farther than the maze of corridors through the Tomb of Perneb – a part original, part reconstruction of a 4300 year-old Egyptian burial chamber – when it was time to head downstairs to the family program.

The Hello, Met! Family Program

The "Hello, Met!" family program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.We met the rest of the families downstairs in the Uris Center for Education. After a brief introduction, our guide, Amir Parsa, took us back upstairs to the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. We all settled on the floor in front of a glass case lined with carved wooden masks from Mali. After a brief Q and A about the use of masks around the world, we learned more about these Dogon Masks, used in mourning dances several years after the person died.

The "Hello, Met!" family program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.We moved around the corner to Papua New Guinea to study more masks and spirit boards from the temporary exhibit “Coaxing the Spirits to Dance: Art of the Papuan Gulf.” After studying the intricately carved and painted spirit boards and learning how art and culture go hand in hand, children and parents were given paper and pencils to copy their favorite board designs, or create their own.


Our last stop on the Hello, Met tour was in the Modern Art wing, where our guide used a series of Jacob Lawrence paintings to talk about shapes and colors before distributing colored pencils and letting the budding artists get back to work, either coloring their spirit boards or creating something new.

Becca and Sarah make wishes in the fountain in the Greek and Roman exhibit at the Met.After our hour-long journey into art appreciation, we planned our exit route to take in the new Greek and Roman sculpture exhibit in the sky-lit Leon Levy and Shelby White Court. The atrium, populated with Roman statues from the first century BC to the third century AD, was a great preview for Derick, who would soon be setting off on an excursion to Italy.

The girls took the opportunity to throw a coin in the fountain and make a wish. They wouldn’t reveal their wishes. Maybe, like Trevi, it was a wish that will bring them back to the Met someday.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
General Information: 212-535-7710
www.metmuseum.org

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is included in the NYC Go Select Pass and the NYC Explorer Pass.

Reviews of the Metropolitan Museum of Art