LA’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House on the market for $15 Million

As I drove up the winding road leading to the Ennis House, I was overwhelmed by its sheer size and magnitude.  It’s striking.

Ennis House

And it’s for sale.  Now is your chance to own a part of history, architecture, and an artist’s worldview as expressed in his meticulous attention to design, detail, and devotion to his own aesthetic genius.  How often is a Frank Lloyd Wright house which features breathtaking views of Los Angeles–and so much more–available for purchase? The question is rhetorical. The answer is, not often.

Ennis House Foundation

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, hard economic times and harsh environmental factors have forced the Ennis House Foundation’s Board to make the decision to sell Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis house.

“Given the current harsh economic realities, private ownership would be the best way to save the house and honor my grandfather’s intentions,” said Eric Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson and member of the Ennis House’s Board of Directors.

The property sustained heavy water damage due to the heavy rains in 2005, and was briefly red-flagged by the building inspectors. Due to the state of the current economy, the decision to sell it to the private sector was made in order to have the iconic Los Angeles Ennis Hose fully restored.

Early History of the Ennis House

The Ennis House is located in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles; more specifically, on the south slope of the Griffith Park hills. Commissioned by Charles and Mabel Ennis, it was one of the 4 homes designed and built in Los Angeles by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright completed his drawings for the home in 1923, and the construction in 1924. The home is also Frank Lloyd Wright’s largest use of his signature textile block designs, constructed primarily of interlocking pre-cast concrete blocks, as described below.

This residence is one of the most unusual of Wright’s California designs. In it, he combined elements from his past work with a new vocabulary created specifically for the sun-drenched, slightly rugged topography of South­ern California. Aware that his client shared his affinity for Mayan art and architecture, he drew inspiration from that culture’s highly ornamented and organized buildings. Thomas Heinz, Architectural Digest, October 1979

The Ennis House has been designated as a city, state, and national landmark.

Side Door Entrance

Ennis House Textile Block Facts

  • The Ennis House is the largest of four textile-block houses designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright, between 1922 and 1924. Each of the homes—including the Storer and Freeman houses in Los Angeles and the Millard House in Pasadena—features a unique block construction.
  • The last and most complex of this series, the Ennis House seems to rise organically from its setting. Indeed, the blocks for the home were partially constructed from decomposed granite taken from the building site.
  • The patterned concrete blocks were cast and joined by steel rods and grout inserted into continuous concave joints during the building process. The result is an inter­locking construction, where the rods and the grout work like a warp and a weft in weaving, giving textile-block architecture its name.
  • Textile-block architecture also derives its name from the blocks’ geometric impressions. Wright designed a specific pattern for each of the four houses. The blocks of the Ennis House were inspired by the façades of Mayan buildings in Uxmal, Mexico.

The Ennis House Property Details

    Wright Light
  • Commanding a hillside at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Ennis House is sited on a half acre in Los Feliz, near the Griffith Observatory.  Totaling approximately 6,000 square feet, the estate consists of a main house with a smaller chauffeur’s quar­ters, separated by a paved motor courtyard.
  • A gate opens to the generously proportioned motor court, off of which a door grants access to the home’s ground-level entrance.
  • The billiards room with a bar and open fireplace awaits off the entry.
  • A low, shadowed lobby introduces the interior to the main residence—a Wrightian device that prepares residents and guests for the dramatic burst of light and space awaiting atop the marble stairs.
  • An elevated dining room with a massive fireplace serves as the centerpiece of the house. The soaring window is appointed with art-glass and facing windows feature mitered corners—another Wright signature to invite the outdoors into the house.
  • High ceilings and numerous art-glass windows afford­ing sprawling views of Los Angeles enhance the living room. The glass-tile mosaic fireplace (at right) in the living room is one of only three ever created and the last remaining intact example in any Wright residence.
  • A long window-lined loggia on the north side (at right) overlooks the pool and flows from the public rooms to the master suite, the guest bedroom suite, and a small Japanese garden.
  • The kitchen and pantry are accessed through an elevated hall above the entry. A small bedroom with a bath is also included in this wing.
  • Inside View

  • A bridge leads from the main residence to the chauffeur’s quarters, which are located above the four-car garage.
  • The chauffeur’s quarters comprise a bedroom, bath, kitchenette, and comfortable living area with approxi­mately 12-foot-high ceilings. Far-reaching views of Los Angeles to the east, Hollywood to the south, and Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean to the west add to the splendor.
  • The blocks measure 16 by 16 inches with a thickness of 3.5 inches and could be rotated to provide alternating patterns for the exterior and interior walls. The blocks act as both structure and ornamentation.
  • A total of approximately 27,000 blocks featuring 24 design variations were used in the house. Some of the units are patterned on both sides; others only on one; some are half blocks; and the remainder are quarter blocks. A number of them were inset with glass to allow light to filter through.
  • Although the home appears stalwart and fortress like from the outside, the interior has a visceral quality, bril­liantly illuminated by numerous art-glass windows that cast a soft tapestry of light and color into its cool-toned rooms.

 

For further information regarding the Ennis House’s decision to sell the estate, you can access the foundation’s press release here. And to learn more about the extent of the Ennis House’s damage, NPR wrote about it in a 2005 story.

Travelin’ Local’s coverage of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House and Barnsdall Park has presaged our interest in covering this new tender of Wright’s Ennis House masterpiece for the astute owner who can restore this architectural masterpiece–by one of the greatest architects in history–back to its former glory.

Christie’s Great Estates has the actual listing. If you’re interested in purchasing a house which defines an era, an icon, and a city, tell them you read about it on Travelin’ Local.

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2 comments so far

  1. Kevin
    #1

    I never visited this house but remember looking at many photographs of it in a book years ago. Very impressive. I have always wondered about whether it feels dark on the inside however. Did you have a chance to go in?
    Kevin´s last blog ..Cows of the Cowichan My ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Kevin, When I was there, a car was parked outside, so I rang the bell, but no one answered. From what I’ve read, Wright’s use of the windows puts a lot of light inside, however, it does have a “museum” feel in the inside.

    [Reply]

  2. D.A Vincent
    #2

    I have read the house has structural damage from earthquakes is this true ? And how bad is the damage?
    D.A Vincent´s last blog ..Threadless Tshirt Giveaway at jaypeeonline.net My ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @D.A Vincent, It wasn’t good. With 1994 earthquake did damage to the outside. Efforts have helped to shore up some of the damage, but the restoration is still on going.

    Here are a few shots of the damage: http://www.ennishouse.org/htmls/threat.htm

    [Reply]

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