Jeffrey Herr on restoration, trash digging at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House

Jeffrey Herr on restoration, trash digging at Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1921 Hollyhock House, the first house the architect built in Los Angeles, has just received a makeover restoring some of its original architectural details. // Photograph © Lawrence K. Ho

In 1921, the finishing touches were put on an unusual, temple-like structure at the top of Olive Hill in Hollywood. Hollyhock House, as the building was called, was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright as a home for an eccentric Pennsylvania oil heiress by the name of Aline Barnsdall. The practically Mayan structure was unlike any residential structure then built in Los Angeles — and unlike anything Wright had designed before. In a 1933 story on the house, The Times reported that the architect had “a particular flair for breaking up the ordinary lines of construction.”

Now a National Historic Landmark — and a part of the Barnsdall Art Park Complex that overlooks Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills — the Hollyhock House recently underwent a six-year, $4.4-million renovation to take care of the many leaks and drainage problems that were plaguing the structure. In the process, a number of design fixes have been also been made. (Over the decades, sundry renovations stripped away important architectural details.)

On Friday, after a ribbon cutting by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Hollyhock once again opens to the public — but this time, looking much as she did when Barnsdall first opened the doors to her unusual new home in the early 1920s. ….