Hollyhock House is Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles project. Built between 1919 and 1921, it represents his earliest efforts to develop a regionally appropriate style of architecture for Southern California. Wright himself referred to it as California Romanza, using a musical term meaning “freedom to make one’s own form”.
Taking advantage of Los Angeles’ dry, temperate climate, Hollyhock House is a remarkable combination of house and gardens. In addition to the central garden court, each major interior space adjoins an equivalent exterior space, connected either by glass doors, a porch, pergola or colonnade. A series of rooftop terraces further extend the living space and provide magnificent views of the Los Angeles basin and the Hollywood Hills.
Selecting a thirty-six acre site known as Olive Hill, client and architect worked together to develop a plan that included a home for Barnsdall and her young daughter, two secondary residences, a theater, a director’s house, a dormitory for actors, studios for artists, shops and a motion picture theater.
Because of financial and artistic differences, only the two secondary residences and the Barnsdall home, Hollyhock House, were built. The secondary structures include Residence A (extant) and Residence B (demolished to make way for apartments in 1948).
The house takes its name from the favorite flower of Aline Barnsdall. At her request, hollyhocks were incorporated into the decorative program of the house, and stylized representations of the flower may be found on the roofline, walls, columns planters and furnishings.
In 1927, Aline Barnsdall gave Hollyhock House and eleven surrounding acres to the City of Los Angeles for use as a public art park in memory of her father, Theodore Barnsdall.
Today, surrounded by a modern theater and art galleries, Hollyhock House comes closer to realizing its original purpose as the centerpiece of a functioning arts complex.