- Joan Yarfitz
Hollyhock House, one of the eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.
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 fifteen-year run as the headquarters of the California Art Club beginning in 1927. After a major restoration by the City (1974 to 1976) 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 a $4 million restoration completed in 2014, the property is an important historical revelation for first-time visitors and regulars alike. Visitors experience the house in much of its original splendor. Floors, windows, doors, decorative molding, and long-forgotten paint colors were recreated with utmost attention to detail,” said Ed Avila, President, Project Restore.
Joan has been a docent at Hollyhock House, now the FIRST UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE IN LOS ANGELES, for the past 5 years. She invites you to visit and enjoy the stunning restoration of an iconic LA Landmark.