Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California, 1923-1924
Wright called the Ennis House "the little palace". This was the last and largest of Wright's concrete houses at roughly 6,200 square feet, and built for Charles and Mabel Ennis. The Ennis House is comprised of approximately 27,000 "concrete textile blocks" made of the earth upon which it sits, with 24 design variations unique to the property. In An Autobiography, Wright says of the Ennis House: "I had drawn my son Lloyd into this effort and after completing the plans and details for this latter house I entrusted it all to Lloyd to build -and I, too soon, went back to Taliesin."
The Ennis' owned their Frank Lloyd Wright designed house until 1936, when Mrs. Ennis sold it, and the house had changed hands several times since. In 1968, Augustus Brown purchased the Ennis House for $119,000, and owned it until 1980 when he donated it to a trust he formed to preserve the house. This became the Ennis House Foundation, of which Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of Frank and son of Lloyd, is a member.
The Ennis House faced considerable damage after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and torrential downpours in 2005. After the 2005 rain damage, the Ennis House Foundation poured more than $6.5 million into the house to stabilize it and prepare it for restoration.
In July of 2011, business executive Ron Burkle purchased the house for $4.5 million and a conservancy easement held by the Los Angeles Conservancy which stipulates that the house be open to the public a few days a year. The house has been in a state of restoration for the past several years, and according to one of the contractors working on the Ennis House, it will likely take another two years until it is complete. The contractor estimated the total financial investment in the property including purchase and restoration cost to exceed $10 million.
The Ennis House is very much connected to its site in the hills of Los Feliz. It rises like a series of blocks, and reflects Wright's tendency toward a Pre-Columbian/Indigenous Mexican influence in his architecture of Southern California. Despite not being one to admit to influence from preexisting forms of architecture, Wright appreciated ancient and indigenous architectures because they shared qualities with what Wright considered organic architecture in that they were built in accordance with their site and landscape. The Ennis House is a monumental building and It is an icon of LA architecture, and has even attained a bit of celebrity status as it has been featured as a movie location, most notably in Blade Runner.