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Frank Lloyd Wright‘s largest and most famous home was sold Friday to Los Angeles billionaire investor Ron Burkle. The 6,200 square foot property was sold for $4.5 million and contains more than 27,000 concrete blocks, all made by hand using decomposed granite extracted from the site. The Los Feliz home was built in 1924 for retailer Charles Ennis and his wife and remains the best residential example of Mayan Revival architecture in the country.
Inside the home, Wright transformed industrial concrete to decorative material used as a frame for interior features like windows and fireplaces as well as columns. His sixteen inch modular blocks with intriguing geometric patterns mimic those utilized in his other buildings. However for the Ennis house, the specific pattern present is a Greek key. Due to its interlocking form, it has been speculated that the symbol represents an allusion to the Masonic Order, of which Ennis was a member.
Burkle has a deeply-seated interest in historic homes, and purchased the majestic Greenacres Estate in 1993. This manor was built in the late 1920s for silent film legend Harold Loyd.
According to Maria Felber, chair of the Ennis House Foundation, “Mr. Burkle has a track record of preserving important historic homes, and we know he’ll be an excellent steward of the Ennis House.”
Due to lack of philanthropic effort, the historic home was put on the market in 2009. Originally priced at $15 million, lack of interest reduced the price to $7,495,000, and the home was eventually purchased for a $4.5 million, less than half the original price.
The Ennis House is still in significant need of repair despite efforts to rehabilitate it due to deterioration in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and record rainfall in 2005. It is designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #149 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, meaning that Burkle will need to open the house to the public at least twelve days out of the year. Moreover, the Los Angeles Conservancy holds a detailed conservation easement on the house that will protect it in perpetuity.
Linda Dishman, the Conservancy’s executive director, believes that Burke will be able to successfully rehabilitate the Ennis House: “The Foundation looks forward to working with Mr. Burkle to ensure the long-term preservation of this beloved Los Angeles landmark.”
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek