The Hollyhock House, one of eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings inscribed as a single UNESCO collective world heritage site and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Angeles, will reopen to public August 18 for the first time since the start of the pandemic. guided tours.
The reopening coincides with the centenary of the iconic home, which was commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall as Wright’s first LA project. It was completed in 1921. Regarded as the main residence of what Barnsdall envisioned as an avant-garde theater complex, the Mayan Revival style house and part of the surrounding 36-acre estate – then a rural agricultural area known locally as Olive Hill – was donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1927 for use as a public park and arts center.
The legendary LA landmark was used as the headquarters of the California Art Club until 1942, when it was threatened with demolition. Today, it anchors Barnsdall Art Park, a cultural campus-slash urban park in East Hollywood that is operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) of the City of Los Angeles. and is maintained by the Department of Recreation and Parks, with the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation being the non-profit steward of the site. Also home to the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Center & Junior Art Center, Barnsdall Gallery Theater and a historic olive grove that predates the construction of Hollyhock House, the 11.5-acre hilltop campus has been designated as a historical-cultural Los Angeles Monument.
The DCA and the office of Councilman Mitch O’ Farrell made the grand reopening announcement, noting that self-guided tours of the interior and restored grounds of Hollyhock House will resume Aug. 18. (They are offered Thursday through Saturday, with advanced registration required.) On August 20, the DCA will also host a community bash on the Hollyhock House lawn to mark the reopening of all facilities of the Barnsdall Art Park. The party features free hot dogs (!), crafts, live music, and puppet shows courtesy of the legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater.
“We have now weathered the storm of COVID-19 and I can’t wait to welcome people back to this iconic place,” O’Farrell said in a statement.
Hot dogs and puppets aside, the main draw for many will be Hollyhock House itself, which was subject to an extensive renovation process that began in 2005 and ended in 2015. After reopening in 2015, after restoration, the house enjoyed several years of public service. hours coinciding with the hard-won inscription at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2019. (The seven other buildings that make up Frank Lloyd Wright’s 20th-century architecture are Unity Temple, Fallingwater, Taliesin, Taliesin West, the Robie House, the Jacobs House and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.) However, in early 2020, the site was again closed by the city, this time due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The DCA took advantage of the temporary hiatus in public tours to begin “significant transformations” at both Hollyhock House and Residence A, as DCA interim general manager Daniel Tarica put it. Residence A is a Wright-designed guest house that is located within the boundaries of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and has also been designated a National Historic Landmark. According to a DCA press release, structural restoration work at Residence A, which began pre-pandemic with $5 million in funding from the city and a National Park Service grant, was completed late last year; phase 2 renovations aimed at the interior and landscape are now underway. A public reopening date for the interior of Residence A has not yet been announced.
Back at the main residence, work focused on preserving the cast stone, art glass windows, woodwork, and landscaping of the National Historic Landmark as part of an effort to “improve DCA’s interpretation of the site and Wright’s original design.” By the Los Angeles Times, the project involved restoring the home’s massive fireplace and reinstalling two Wright-designed sofas. Visitors to the revamped site and those visiting the larger park complex will also now have access to new onsite digital resources, including QR code-linked digital house tours and videos documenting the restoration process, the DCA said.
“Hollyhock House is a harbinger of modernism in California and continues to inspire artists, architects and the general public,” said Abbey Chamberlain Brach, curator of Hollyhock House. “We are happy to welcome visitors back to Hollyhock House to experience firsthand Wright’s dramatic expression of California, which feels as modern now as it did when it was completed 100 years ago.”
The pandemic-era conservation work of Hollyhock House and the ongoing restoration of Residence A are being conducted in collaboration between the city’s Bureau of Engineering, in the role of chief architect and project manager, and the Department of General Services as general contractor. The non-profit Project Restore acts as a grant administrator and recovery manager.
More information about the reopening of Lawn Party on August 20 can be found here.