Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

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Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by Roderick Grant »

Stan, the living room photo taken at the east end looking west does not reveal the small window on the north wall by the entrance to the music room which was added in the 1946 renovation. Has that been removed, or is it simply hidden behind the pier?

CEP
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Joined: Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:56 pm

Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by CEP »

The mention of Edith Truesdell in the reopening article reminded me of one of my most regrettable 'close but no cigar' moments while researching the house during the California Art Club years. A major goal was always to find first person accounts of general and specific details of what the house looked like in the years the Club was involved at the house (1927-1942). I had tracked Ms. Truesdell to an assisted living facility in Carmel Valley in central California in the mid 1980s. Unfortunately, I was about three months shy of having the opportunity to ask her about her remembrances of her time at the house.

JimM
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Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by JimM »

Nice to see the structural steel posts added to the sun porch, as I recall, are no longer exposed. Still, the latest restoration would appear to be quite inaccurate. There's nothing obvious in the photo found in Monograph 4, page 161, that might reflect a 1946 revision. Like the current photo in this thread, it's dark, but significantly does not indicate casework at the end of shorter piers as now seen in the restoration.

If original as shown in Monograph 4, the piers flanking the doors-including the end surfaces-were finished with stucco (concrete?) and ran from the inset doors to their termination at the first "horizontal" floor seam. Unfortunately, after the piers were cut back to accommodate the steel posts, they were not returned to their original length. Instead, although again it's a dark photo, I have to assume the light fixtures (which are original/accurate) are attached to ill proportioned narrow wood casings which now enclose the steel posts. Concrete unattractively is still visible where the steel posts were set.

The light fixtures, originally direct to the bare pier ends, were originally placed higher up and near level with the soffit edge above the doors. This observation made it possible to then notice that structural repairs also must have resulted in the ceiling height increasing by at least a foot or so... perhaps something to do with the bedroom terrace above.

This is a wonderfully and thankfully restored masterpiece, which all the more brings into question why the significant difference between the original sun porch and its restoration. Comparing before and after, structural simplicity defined the space. Although it's essentially still there, the space-at least as intended by Wright-has been lost IMO due to the changes of proportion, ceiling rework, misplacement of fixtures and added decorative casings. There's more the look of what was chosen to do, for whatever reason, rather than a restoration to an originally known state.

Would like to know what I may or may not have correct, as well as more about this part of the restoration...

SREcklund
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Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by SREcklund »

Roderick Grant wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:06 pm
Stan, the living room photo taken at the east end looking west does not reveal the small window on the north wall by the entrance to the music room which was added in the 1946 renovation. Has that been removed, or is it simply hidden behind the pier?
Hidden. If you look closely at that shot, particularly low on the wall, you can see how the wall "folds" around the column, creating space to hide the window. In the reverse-facing shot at the top of the article, you can see light coming in the window.
Docent, Hollyhock House - Hollywood, CA
Humble student of the Master

"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Roderick Grant
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Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by Roderick Grant »

JimM, you are incorrect: The I-beams are still exposed, not encased in wood. This is sloppy workmanship which should be corrected, though the previous curator was proud that the beams were left open. The placement of the lights may have had something to do with structural or rewiring problems, but that too should have been left unchanged. The ceiling height, which is barely visible in Mono4, has not changed.

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by Roderick Grant »

Stan, thank you. Yes, now I see the light from the window. Again, this is a restoration flaw; FLW placed no window there for a reason, and he or Lloyd added it in 1946 when the entire room was reimagined with the main seating at the east end of the room symmetrically centered on the east-west axis rather than the north-south axis, as was the original seating. The third portfolio of the '80s includes a floor plan of the room with that window drawn in. If the intention was to restore the room to its '46 era usage, keeping the window would have been correct, but as it is supposed to be, and is regarded as by visitors as, a restoration of the residence, it should be removed.

SREcklund
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Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by SREcklund »

JimM wrote:
Mon Aug 08, 2022 1:39 pm
Nice to see the structural steel posts added to the sun porch, as I recall, are no longer exposed. Still, the latest restoration would appear to be quite inaccurate. There's nothing obvious in the photo found in Monograph 4, page 161, that might reflect a 1946 revision. Like the current photo in this thread, it's dark, but significantly does not indicate casework at the end of shorter piers as now seen in the restoration.

If original as shown in Monograph 4, the piers flanking the doors-including the end surfaces-were finished with stucco (concrete?) and ran from the inset doors to their termination at the first "horizontal" floor seam. Unfortunately, after the piers were cut back to accommodate the steel posts, they were not returned to their original length. Instead, although again it's a dark photo, I have to assume the light fixtures (which are original/accurate) are attached to ill proportioned narrow wood casings which now enclose the steel posts. Concrete unattractively is still visible where the steel posts were set.

The light fixtures, originally direct to the bare pier ends, were originally placed higher up and near level with the soffit edge above the doors. This observation made it possible to then notice that structural repairs also must have resulted in the ceiling height increasing by at least a foot or so... perhaps something to do with the bedroom terrace above.

This is a wonderfully and thankfully restored masterpiece, which all the more brings into question why the significant difference between the original sun porch and its restoration. Comparing before and after, structural simplicity defined the space. Although it's essentially still there, the space-at least as intended by Wright-has been lost IMO due to the changes of proportion, ceiling rework, misplacement of fixtures and added decorative casings. There's more the look of what was chosen to do, for whatever reason, rather than a restoration to an originally known state.

Would like to know what I may or may not have correct, as well as more about this part of the restoration...
The I-beams in the sun porch are still exposed - the shot is just a little dark. During the last (2010 - 2015) restoration, the decision was made to push everything back to what it was in 1927, when Miss Barnsdall donated the house to the city. Anything for which insufficient evidence existed of original condition was pushed back to 1946, when Lloyd Wright restored the house. So, the kitchen, library, and gallery are 1946-era. In the case of the sun porch, the beams are essential, but were encased in non-essential plaster - that was removed and returned to what I believe are the original dimensions. The remainder of the sun porch (glass design, etc) is believed to be LW's design of 1946; scant evidence exists of earlier condition, but many believe there was less glass and more solid sections, particularly on the west side where the afternoon sun bears down.
Docent, Hollyhock House - Hollywood, CA
Humble student of the Master

"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by Roderick Grant »

When conundrums arise between as designed, as built - or rebuilt by 1927 - or as renovated in 1946, it is reasonable to take a shot at the most likely to be original intent. This was not done with the gallery/pergola, for which the original design of two guest bedrooms separated from the pergola by a solid wall is known in toto. The so-called pergola was actually part of the garden court design which extended from the south wall of the pergola northward to the kitchen wall, including the colonnade which was designed to be a transition from landscaping to structure. The glass ceiling in the pergola obviously was intended to bring sunlight into the space to mirror the riparian garden on the north side, leaving just a narrow pathway from the loggia to the stair hall along the wall. The gaping maw connecting the pergola to the 1927 gallery upsets the balance of the garden court design. It is obvious that the decision to keep the maw and gallery was to accommodate occasional displays, which could easily be shown in the separate main art gallery. Without the restoration of the guest rooms and garden court landscaping the house cannot be considered restored. I would also include at the very least an effort to ascertain whether or not the library skylight was constructed. There is a 1923 letter describing the drapery for the same. It is not possible that by 1923 the library had not been finished; that would have made discussion of drapery unnecessary. Another problem is the difference of color between the exterior walls above and below the hollyhock trim. How did that happen? Shouldn't it be obvious that the entire exterior be one color or the other? And lastly, I know FLW had hollyhocks drawn into perspectives of the house, but the reality of the hollyhocks around the square pool, in the garden court and the south walled courtyard is aesthetically questionable by comparison to the idealized renderings. We had hollyhocks in our garden back home; their maintenance is pestiferous. They tend to fall over and are not particularly handsome without a great deal of trouble. Are there any historical photos showing hollyhocks anywhere on the site during Aline's residency? Eliminating them entirely would not be a bad idea. It's a weed with a pleasant blossom.

JimM
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Location: Austin,Texas

Re: Article: Barnsdall House - "Hollyhock" (Los Angeles, CA) set to reopen

Post by JimM »

Thanks for the info Stan... yes, the steel was more noticeable in the photo I recall seeing. I only assumed possible casings since it would seem odd to attach historic light fixtures to the steel. Maybe that's just me...

The Mono photo clearly indicates the plastered piers extended to the floor seam after 1946 (which would include the footprint of the steel). The "non-essential" plaster issue and what you've mentioned concerning the posts would infer this summary: 1.) It's likely the original piers never extended to the floor seam, as I assumed. 2.) At some time structural failure mandated steel posts which were encased in "non-essential" plaster 3.) the "non-essential" plaster was "proudly" removed, leaving steel posts exposed with historic light fixtures attached to them. Hope I got that right.

Roderick, looks like I incorrectly assumed the Mono 4 photo was close to original-sure looks Wright enough (I last saw HH 30 years ago when I lived in LA). I do disagree, albeit with trepidation, about the ceiling height being barely visible-I believe the ceiling is completely visible.

The Mono 4 photo is lighter than the current photo and appears monotone/flat. Look closer at the top of the window trim, top of the piers and the soffit above the door. All appear clearly flush with "a" ceiling. In the current photo, although I was incorrect about it being raised, the distance between these elements and the ceiling is quite noticeable. The steel beam across the posts itself is located between the top of the window casements and the ceiling which must be a distance of at least 8-12" and not at all apparent in Mono 4. In the dark shadows the beam appears as if a secondary soffit above the door, and the darkened intersection of the side walls and ceiling also confirm the original ceiling height. This could only mean that a ("non-essential") false ceiling was added, most likely to conceal the steel cross member.

I know this is your neighborhood and wish I was speaking with more certainty. Perhaps you or Stan can offer more clarity... I'd be glad to stand corrected again, I'm simply seeing two very different ceilings in these photos. I do agree this effort was done, as you say, "sloppy".

The work reflected in Mono 4 was very well done and there's no justifiable reason the steel should not remain encased and plastered for such a trivial distance. There may be a better restorative argument against a false ceiling, but the two combined makes it clear, to me anyway, returning this space to a more appropriate prior condition would be in better harmony with the other restoration work done.


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