When Frank Lloyd Wright completed the Ennis abode in 1924, he anon advised it his favorite. The aftermost and better of the four concrete-block houses that Wright congenital in the Los Angeles breadth charcoal arguably the best residential archetype of Mayan Revival architectonics in the country. Back The Times’ Home area convened a console of historians, architects and preservationists in 2008 to vote on the region’s best houses of all time, the Ennis abode ranked advanced of the Modernist Eames house, the John Lautner spaceship-on-a-hill accepted as Chemosphere and the Arts & Crafts adorableness the Gamble house.
That the Ennis abode garners so abundant admiration from the architectonics association makes its accepted cachet all the added remarkable: for auction back June 2009, amount bargain from $15 actor to $7,495,000. Prospective buyers accept apparent abundant interest, according to advertisement abettor Jeffrey Hyland, admiral of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, but as of yet, there accept been no takers.
The abode has continued been an big-ticket proposition. Set on about an acre in the Los Feliz adjacency of L.A., the home — three bedrooms and three and bisected baths, additional agents abode that advance the advertisement to 6,000 aboveboard anxiety — amount $300,000 to build, about $3.8 actor today, adapted for inflation.
Wright’s applicant was Charles Ennis, the buyer of a men’s accouterment abundance in city L.A. and an enthusiast of Mayan art and architecture. For anniversary of Wright’s houses congenital with accurate blocks, or t blocks as they are generally called, Wright advised a custom pattern. For the Ennis house, the arrangement was a Greek key. Within the chain form, it’s accessible to adapt a august “g” — conceivably an allusion to the Masonic Order, of which Ennis was a member, and the organization’s sym, the ambit with the letter “g” in the average apery God.
Wright had acclimated accurate in awe-inspiring projects, but in the 1920s it was still advised a new material, abnormally for home construction. The accurate was a aggregate of gravel, granite and beach from the site, alloyed with baptize and again hand-cast in aluminum molds to actualize a block 16 inches wide, 16 inches alpine and 3 1/2 inches thick. It took 10 canicule for anniversary block to dry afore it could be ample into position. The double-wall architectonics alleged for exoteric blocks and autogenous blocks to be set about 1 inch apart, and estimates of the absolute cardinal of blocks deployed by Wright accept ranged from 27,000 to 40,000.
It was an agreement in the anatomic and aesthetic possibilities of concrete, which Wright believed captivated abeyant as a actual for affordable housing. The byword “textile block” came from the way vertical and accumbent animate rods were alloyed through channels in the concrete, a address that was declared to accumulate the blocks knitted calm and captivated in position. The net beheld aftereffect was annihilation abbreviate of monumental.
But although the Ennis abode was admirable in calibration and celebrated in sweep, it remained “highly livable,” said Janet Tani, whose father, Augustus O. Brown, endemic the acreage from 1968 to 1980.
“One gets to acquaintance the changes of ablaze throughout the day and how that impacts autogenous spaces on a ample scale,” Tani said.
She acclaimed how one ancillary of the abode seems to hover aloft a growing metropolis, while the added ancillary credibility against Griffith Park’s abortive hills and acreage “that looks like it charge accept looked 500 years ago,” she said. “By walking a few feet, one can be in a absolutely altered environment.”
Karrie Jacobs, an architectonics columnist and the founding editor of Dwell magazine, remembered visiting the Ennis abode in 2005, sitting at the dining table and watching hawks amphitheater over L.A. She said it’s her admired Wright house, partly because it represents an change from the alpha of Wright’s career, back the artist “was still a 19th aeon Midwesterner.” His aboriginal Prairie Style houses tended to crouch down, low and dark.
“By the time he advised the Ennis abode in 1923, he’d lived and formed in Tokyo and congenital several houses in L.A.,” Jacobs said. “He was added catholic and beneath abashed of sunlight. And Ennis is strangely, monumentally, vertical, with its double- or triple-height rooms. Usually, in Wright houses, I feel a little claustrophobic, a little trapped in the man’s deeply choreographed apperception of calm life. But during my one appointment to Ennis, I acquainted as if I was in a altered world, achieve I’d never been afore — and maybe achieve Wright had never been before, either.”
The house, Jacobs said, doesn’t fit neatly into Wright’s bulk or any added architectural timeline. “I anticipate of it, affectionately, as Wright’s San Simeon,” she said.
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