California Romanza & The Hollyhock House

California Romanza & The Hollyhock House

Another month, another architectural gem on offer in Los Angeles. This time my explorations took me to East Hollywood, where Frank Lloyd Wright’s first foray into Los Angeles sits atop the Barnsdall Park hillside, California Romanza & The Hollyhock House.

Built between 1919 and 1921, Hollyhock House represents Wright’s early efforts in developing a regional style for Southern California, marking a dramatic change from the Prairie style he previously explored in the American Midwest. The style would come to be known as ‘California Romanza‘ and was influenced by pre-Columbian Mexican styles, featuring inclined upper walls and colonnades that pay homage to the Mayan temples of old.

The client for the house was oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, whose original, the grand brief called for not only a home but also an art complex, studios, a dormitory, a theatre, and a motion picture house. The project became infamous due to Wright and Barnsdall encountering a long series of financial and artistic differences, ultimately leading to the firing of Wright from the project. His former assistant Rudolph Schindler and his son Lloyd Wright were then chosen to oversee the completion of the first phase.

The house itself is a response to the client’s request for a half-house, half-garden home arranged around a central courtyard. It takes its name from Barnsdall’s favorite flower: the Ornamental Hollyhock and these can be seen wrapping the upper level of the cast concrete exterior.

For more information on visiting California Romanza & The Hollyhock House and Barnsdall Park please visit their website

Mitchell Hattersley


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