The Hollyhock House was built for the Pennsylvanian philanthropist, Aline Barnsdall, the granddaughter of William Barnsdall who built the 2nd oil producing well in the United States. With the inheritance she recieved from her grandfather, Aline became a world traveler and patron of the arts and in 1914 met Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago whose recently completed Midway Gardens she was impressed by. When Barnsdall visited Los Angeles the following year, she decided to seek Wright as an architect to develop a 36 acre plot of land in the Hollywood area known as Olive Hill (Now the Barnsdall Art Park.)
Barnsdall's commission was to be Wright's first Los Angeles project. It was built from 1919-1923 and showed attempt to create a Californian architecture he dubbed, "California Romanza." The final plan included the present day Hollyhock House, guesthouses: Residence A (Currently an art center.) and Resident B (Remodeling unfinished; Condemded and Demolished: 1950s.), the Little Dipper Kindergarden (Retaining Walls Built; Unfinished), 2 theaters (Never built.), a Spring House*, an apartment complex (Never built.), and a row of stores on one side of the property (Never built.).
The house got its name from the motif that Wright had put throughout the home and its furnishings. This was Aline Barnsdall's favorite flower and was done on request. It features a garden court, a pool (That was drained when I visited.), conservatory, study, living room, kennels, servant's rooms, music room and rooftop terraces (Really neat, you can see the Ennis Residence from the terraces.).
The project was hampered with a variety of different issues from the start. Wright was mostly away during the construction with another project in Tokyo, Japan. The Imperial Hotel. He entrused supervision to his son Lloyd, and an apprentice, R.M. Schindler (Personal arguements led to Wright and Schindler parting ways soon after.)
Wright's original Olive Hill plan was never completed. Budget overruns, and squabbling between Wright and Barnsdall led to the project's demise. Amazingly, Barndsdall never really stayed in her new home and less than 3 years after its completion donated it and 11 surrounding acres of Olive Hill to the City of Los Angeles for use as a public art park. Over the years it was used by a variety of different groups, the first 15 by the California Art Club, then by the Olive Hill Foundation before in 1974 a major rehabilitation effort was done to restore the Hollyhock House and surrounding buildings to their orginial designs and much of the original furnishings were reproduced.
Today the Hollyhock House is part of the Barnsdall Art Park and is available for public tours. It is also open to the public for free tours on the closest Sunday to Wright's birthday (June 8th.) the city also hosts a variety of events and you get free cake if you stay around long enough (I did!).
* Spring House: This structure was built, I have no proof that it was demolished and spent quite some time trying to find the place before I had to leave, but to no avail. If you visit, try asking one of the docents, or I'll write it here when I visit again this summer.