Hollyhock House @ Barnsdall Art Park

I’ve been visiting Los Angeles regularly for several years now (hurray for friends in far-flung locations!). One of my favourite neighbourhoods is Los Feliz, with its great cafes, a wonderful independent bookstore, lovely old movie theatre and proximity to the Hollywood Hills (and one of the most beautiful LA landmarks, the Griffith Observatory).

As if it needed more going for it, Los Feliz also borders Barnsdall Art Park, and a beautiful house that Frank Lloyd Wright built (for Aline Barnsdall, American oil heiress, theatre patron, and all-around feminist radical), Hollyhock House. It got its name from the stylized hollyhock desings that adorn the entire home – both inside and out.

I went on one of the docent-led tours (call first to verify times), and it was well worth the extra couple of dollars it cost me. I learned all about Barnsdall and Wright’s arguments, the original intent of the 35-acre property (a sort of theatre community), and the history of the house’s decline and subsequent revival.  I admit, I’m a sucker for Wright’s brand of architecture (I’m likewise a big fan of Scottish architect & designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh), so I try to see anything he’s designed. Hollyhock House, much of it newly restored, was a delight!

I wasn’t able to take any interior shots, but I urge you to wander around inside. It’s completely sumptuous, from the wood panelling and built-in shelving, to the design details on the furniture and how Wright brings the outdoors inside. I went for a wander around the home afterwards, where I was able to get a few shots of the back of the house, with its courtyard and small pool – just stunning!

Extra bonus: There were some very friendly, helpful and clearly enthusiastic folks around inside the house ready to answer questions and engage visitors. A very interesting visit!

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