HOLLYHOCK HOUSE, BARNSDALL ART PARK
4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
July 7, 2019 marked the day that L.A.’s Hollyhock House, a 20th century treasure designed by one of America’s most prolific architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the first and only World Heritage site in Los Angeles, as well as the first cultural site for California, the first modern architecture designation and the 24th World Heritage List site in the U.S.
As a non-profit dedicated to preserving some of our city’s most iconic landmarks, Project Restore is thrilled to see one of its own projects added to a list of what will undoubtedly become internationally-renowned historical sites. In a city known to continuously reinvent itself as a new metropolis on the heels of its past, we are turning the corner on this old notion by taking great care to identify and preserve architectural treasures like Hollyhock House that link us to our history – and identity.
Construction of Hollyhock House began in 1919 when oil heiress Aline Barnsdall commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a Mayan-inspired theater, cinema, commercial shops and artist residences as part of a cultural arts complex on a 36-acre site in East Hollywood, then known as Olive Hill. In 1927, the building was donated to the City of Los Angeles, and operated as a community arts center.
Decades later, the house experienced intense leakage problems, sagging concrete beams, distorted paint color, cracks in the pool and multiple structural issues. In 2006, Project Restore launched a campaign to seek funds for its restoration. Between 2008 and 2014, Project Restore managed restoration of the building, which was partially made possible through grants from the California Cultural and Historic Endowment and the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program, as well as matching funds from the City of Los Angeles.
In addition to Project Restore’s oversight, the effort included the Bureau of Engineering (architect), Department of Cultural Affairs (curator) and the General Services Department (general contractor). During the $4.5 million restoration, several features including: floors, windows, doors, art stone, decorative molding and long-forgotten vibrant paint colors were conserved, restored and recreated with utmost attention to detail. After nearly four years of construction and restoration work, the house reopened in February 2015 to rave reviews. The project has won awards from the California Preservation Foundation, LA Conservancy, LA Business Council, Engineering News Record and the American Institute of Architects.
In recent years, L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and Mayor Eric Garcetti have worked to preserve the various priceless cultural resources at Barnsdall Art Park, including Hollyhock House. By working collaboratively with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, which is committed to preserving the legacy of one of America’s most important architects, Project Restore, and all those involved in the restoration of these structures, city leaders ensure that L.A.’s history of modern architecture is preserved for future generations.
Today, visitors the world-over experience the house in much of its original splendor. For first-time visitors and Frank Lloyd Wright-enthusiasts, the structure is an important historical revelation and a unique architectural wonder.