Wherever you live, whatever you do, it’s nice to do something totally different once in a while. My mother the ballet teacher enjoys playing the slot machines. My brother the math teacher is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
With four dogs in the house I sometimes feel like a professional dog walker and to bust out of that and the South Bay in General, I recently organized an architectural trip with several friends.
Six of us trekked up to visit Hollyhock House in Hollywood.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1919 for Aline Barnsdall, an oil heiress, Hollyhock has been closed for renovation for a year and a half. In fact it’s still closed, awaiting permits, but I purchased a private tour at a charity auction a while back and so six of us got to enjoy a personalized tour from Jeffrey Herr, curator of the house who has also overseen the restoration.
It was a slow start since we all had to scoop our jaws up off the beautiful living room floor. Floor cleaning easy enough, though, since we were all wore little paper booties over our shoes.
Hard to believe that these open spaces were designed at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The rooms are clean and open and large, and not so many.
“We had one pillow left from the original,” said Jeffery Herr. The original fabric is framed in an office, but he used it to get cloth woven for new green pillows that look just the same. “Green is very difficult, as it tends to be an unstable color.”
The house takes its name from the Hollyhock, the original owner’s favorite flower, is used throughout as a stylized design motif.
Aline Barnsdall herself was also quite contemporary, supporting communist causes, and decided that while she didn’t want a husband, she did want a child. And so she made that happen—her daughter was nicknamed “Sugartop”–quite the scandalous choice for the time. Fitting, since Wright himself was also a scandalous figure.
Hollyhock was to be a home amidst a 35-acre performing arts center. That part never quite happened, the theater was built much later, as indeed the house was never really a residence.
Wright himself did not oversee construction, as was his preference, since he was working on the Imperial Hotel in Japan.
Even from afar, though, Wright exerted control. There are built-ins, including maybe the first ever built in entertainment system. And features near the walls would make it hard to move furniture. That furniture, of course, was also designed by Wright.
A beautiful day in the early Twentieth Century.
And too soon, time to head back to the Twenty-first.