More than a century after its completion and three years after being recognized as a world cultural treasure, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House will soon reopen to the public.
The iconic house in East Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park has been closed for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs used this hiatus to complete a series of restoration and home improvement projects, which were commissioned in 1918 by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall.
Hollyhock House will reopen on August 18 and show a series of “significant transformations”, said Daniel Tarica, the agency’s acting chief executive for cultural affairs.
The house’s monumental fireplace, which unites the four classical elements of earth, air, fire and water, has been restored, as have the master bedroom’s art glass patio doors.
Two Wright-designed sofa tables, which the architect had said considered “part of the design of the house itself”, were reinstalled.
The improvements also included a major restoration of a guest house, known as “Residence A”. A cantilevered balcony on the north side of the structure, which had collapsed, was completely recreated, with a steel frame to ensure its longevity. Exterior finishes long covered in multiple coats of paint have been restored to Wright’s original vision, including the art stone that wraps the building.
The Chicago-based architect increased his visits to Los Angeles as he traveled to Tokyo, where he designed the Imperial Hotel. Along the way, he met Barnsdall, a philanthropist, theater producer, political progressive, world traveler and lover of the hollyhock flower. Wright agreed to incorporate the floral element into his design of the house.
The result, Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne wrote in 2017, “is a work of transition in many ways – a bridge between the dozens of charismatic Prairie-style homes he designed in the Midwest and the more austere architecture he would turn to once he was fully established in L.A. Hawthorne and other critics also noted the nods to Mayan Revival and Spanish architecture.
Barnsdall and Wright argued over the construction of the house and what she perceived to be design flaws. The architect later said that Barnsdall was his “toughest client”. She never lived in the Hollyhock House and donated it to the City of Los Angeles in 1927.
Over the decades it has gone through periods of disrepair. In 1946 the architect’s son, Lloyd Wright, helped lead an earlier restoration, redesigning and modernizing the kitchen – changes that later restorations left in place.
The city worked with the nonprofit Project Restore to make some of the newer improvements. A former curator said: “For people revisiting the house, it’s an eye opener. They walk into the house and their jaws literally drop.
In 2019, UNESCO declared the house a World Heritage Site – the only place in Los Angeles to achieve this international status symbol.
Less than a year later, the house became one of many cultural institutions to close with the onset of the pandemic.
With the reopening, self-guided tours will be available Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The city says the reopening “will provide unprecedented access to Hollyhock House’s restored outdoor spaces, showcasing new aspects of Wright’s self-proclaimed ‘garden house’.” “Advance purchase of tickets is required at hollyhockhouse.org.
Other Barnsdall Park facilities are also reopening, including the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, Barnsdall Arts Center and Barnsdall Junior Arts Center.
The Cultural Affairs Department is hosting a free reopening party for the community on Saturday, August 20, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Times