Angels Flight

In a Los Angeles Times article from November 21, 1901, titled Up Again, Down Again the components of the new Angels Flight railway system were detailed. It stated that J. W. Eddy had been granted a franchise to run the railway by the city council in May and Eddy estimated the train would be up and running by December 1 since no serious problems or obstacles had occurred and none were expected. The Times article mentioned a terraced park, located at the top of the hill, which was nearly complete “and what was for so many years a weed patch and a dumping ground for garbage and tin cans is rapidly being converted into a sightly little park.”

The two cars, which were named Sinai and Olivet, had arrived the previous week and each car had a seating capacity of eleven but could carry twenty. The name of the railway was a nod to the Spanish translation of the city’s name: El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula.

A ten horse-power motor had just arrived and it would be placed in the motor-house located at the top of the railway. The motorman would also be situated in the motor-house and would “send the cars speeding up or down by means of levers.” According to the timetables it would take one and a half minutes to complete the ride each way and the fare was one cent.

Opening day was December 31, 1901, and it was filled with excitement and some disappointment. The Times reporter stated that the concrete steps beside the funicular were filled with people awaiting the start of the railway’s run and “a large crowd” was on the platform at the top of the hill. When the motorman moved his lever both cars moved in opposite directions and the expectations of the crowd on the platform were voiced when the reporter heard whispers of, “The Mayor is coming.”

This was due to the fact that Col. Eddy had distributed flyers announcing Mayor Snyder would attend the grand opening and would be on the first car. When the first car reached the platform “a low moan of disappointment was wrung from the crowd” because his honor, the mayor, did not debark. Col. Eddy addressed the crowd and said, “I will have him here next trip.”

When the second car chugged up the hill people were still excited but only a Board of Education member and “a sporty individual” exited from this car. No Mayor Snyder. The third car to the platform contained an older gentleman and two ladies; one in an ill-fitting dress according to the reporter. The fourth car: “untitled citizens.”

“As the fifth car came up Col. Eddy was nervously wringing his hands and hoarsely ordered the camera obscura at the top of the tower opened to appease the heart-broken multitude. But at last, when hope was beginning to wither, there came another car in which stood Mayor Snyder holding on by the dashboard with one hand and his other hand back to his pistol pocket prepared to shoot the cable in two if the car showed any symptoms of shooting over the hill and into space. The crowd cheered and clapped hands and the Mayor cautiously let go (of) the dashboard and waved his hat.”

Opening day was free for anyone who wanted to ride. Col. Eddy did place a donation box near the motor-house for citizens who wanted to show their “public spirit” and deftly mentioned the slot on the box was the exact size of a twenty dollar coin. Eddy later reported a prankster inserted a check into the box for $1 million dollars signed by the Queen of Bavaria.

On the upper level you pay for your ride on the opposite side of this structure.

The Hill Street entrance across from the Grand Central Market.

Col. Eddy from Men of California 1900-1902.

Also from Men of California 1900-1902. According to Wikipedia his nickname was “Pinky.”

An advertisement inside the car.

______________________________________________________

Mayor Snyder’s ascent of the “Angeles’ Flight.” (1902, January 1). Los Angeles Times, p. 12.

Up again, down again. (1901, November 21). Los Angeles Times, p. 11.

Wolfe, W. E. (1901). Men of California 1900-1902. San Francisco: Pacific Art Company.

______________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 12 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements, Parkinson & Parkinson, Alfred F. Rosenheim and Paul R. Williams.

Published in: on September 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Elmer Grey’s Lincoln Shrine

The Lincoln Shrine

Elmer Grey was asked to design the Lincoln Shrine by a citizen’s committee in charge of the memorial. From the start the consensus was to make the shrine a separate structure and not attach it to the A.K. Smiley Library which is the local Redlands, California library. The committee wasn’t sure if they wanted the shrine situated someplace on the library park grounds (Smiley Park) but Mayor Leo Lelan assured those connected with the project that the city would find a place in the library’s park if that’s what the committee wanted.

What the committee had in mind for the building, itself, was a one-story structure with two rooms: one for a marble Abraham Lincoln bust by sculptor George Gray Barnard and one to house Lincoln memorabilia. The structure was built as a shrine to Lincoln and a memorial to Ewart Watchorn, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Watchorn, who died at an early age from complications due to an injury he incurred during the first world war.

Grey created plans for a one-story, octagon structure of reinforced concrete that would be faced in Indiana limestone. Large murals by Dean Cornwell would encircle the interior walls near the top. Only Lincoln books would be housed in the structure and the bookcases would be constructed of Circassian walnut.

Work began on the $32,000 structure on June 16, 1931, and the contractor was A. E. Taylor & Son. The first order of business performed by the contractor was knocking down an old band shelter that occupied the space in Smiley Park where the shrine was to rise.

Eight months later the building was complete. The night before the dedication the Watchorns held a dinner for the Shrine’s executive committee, along with their wives, at the Wissahickon Inn. Over fifty people attended the event and after the Watchorns thanked everyone involved in the building’s construction the Reverend Lewis Jacobsen said, “Redlands wealth is (in) the type of citizens who live here and who love the place enough to build a great university, a wonderful library, a Prosellis, a Lincoln shrine and other great buildings.”

On February 12, 1932, the dedication ceremonies took place. A row of civil war veterans sat on the stage and behind them a group of African-American singers. Most of the singers were descendants of Israel Beale — a runaway slave who made his way to Redlands before the emancipation proclamation. Other participants included the University of Redlands choir, the Redlands High School band, and vocalist Ellen Beach Yaw. UCLA provost Dr. E. E. Moore gave the keynote address. Robert Watchorn presented the shrine to Mayor Lelan who accepted it on behalf of the city and presented “a basket of gorgeous spring blossoms” to Mrs. Watchorn.

Originally, it looked like this. It’s a single octagon building with a wall of Lincoln inscriptions behind it. Photo by Dan Lewis (on an old postcard).

After a million dollars was raised the wings (seen in the first photo) were added in 1998. I asked the docent if anyone objected to altering the shrine and he said, “no.”

Here’s the Benard bust. It’s lit very dramatically.

Dean Cornwell’s depiction of Strength.

This one symbolizes Justice.

Inside the shrine there was a bust of Ulysses S. Grant too. It was commissioned by the shrine in 1932. C. S. Paolo (1881-1955) was the sculptor.

There was also a Norman Rockwell painting called “The Long Shadow of Lincoln” hanging on the wall.  I felt fortunate that I was able to see it and get up close to it.

This is a photograph of Ewart. He’s the REAL reason the shrine was built.

One of the Lincoln inscriptions.

The Smiley Library, built in 1898, is across from the Lincoln Shrine.

In the children’s department were these stained glass windows. This one and the following two depict Alice in Wonderland.

It’s The Wizard of Oz. They’re amazing.

__________________________________________________________

Grey to design shrine. (1931, February 21). Los Angeles Times, p. A3.

Lincoln memorial shrine, The.  (n. d.). Redlands: Lincoln Memorial Shrine.

Lincoln shrine work begins. (1931, June 17). Los Angeles Times, p. 8.

McGroarty, J. S. (1932, February 13). Lincoln shrine dedicated. Los Angeles Times, p. A1.

Plans soon to be ready for shrine. (1931, May 17). Los Angeles Times, p. D3.

Redlands ready for dedication. (1932, February 12). Los Angeles Times, p. A16.

__________________________________________________________

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 12 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements, Parkinson & Parkinson, Alfred F. Rosenheim and Paul R. Williams.

Woodbury County Court House: Sioux City, Iowa

I happened to go to the Woodbury County Court House in July of 2017. It was even more beautiful than I thought it would be.

This decal graces some of the exterior doors.

The Douglas Street entrance.

The 7th Street entrance.

I think they should rethink the color used to hold the figures together. A white or buff color would be better.

The alley side or east side of the building.

There are two buffalo on the alley side.

This is the south side of the building which faces the Sioux City city hall.

This “city hall” side still has amazing detail even though it lacks any human sculpture.

I’m unsure what the “H” stands for unless it’s a “W” then it would be Woodbury.

The cornerstone is located at the corner of 7th and Douglas streets on the Douglas street side.

This is part of the patriotic mural on the east side in the interior.

This clock is in the center of the patriotic mural and over a staircase.

This is the final part of the patriotic mural.

This is the mural on the west side of the building. It deals with justice.

The dome.

It’s a drinking fountain/fishbowl.

There is a lot more terra cotta upstairs.

You can see the staircase to the second floor behind this planter.

These benches are used throughout the building.

The place drips with all this terra cotta.

One of the courtrooms on the second floor.

The original elevator isn’t used anymore. There are modern elevators on both sides of this elevator.

We had access to most of the building and went to every floor. This is the view as you get off the elevator on the seventh floor.

The view from the window.

In the original entrance (on Douglas Street) hangs this plaque.

According to the sanctioned brochure that’s given out at the court house’s security check-point, The Woodbury County Court House is linked to the midwestern prairie style that began with Louis Sullivan in the 1890s and carried forward by Frank Lloyd Wright in the first two decades of the 20th Century. I can see how that train of thought might apply to the main structure; the first two floors — but the six-story tower seems to work against the whole prairie style aesthetic. Regardless, the architect selected for the court house project was local Sioux City architect William LeBarth Steele who submitted an ornate gothic design, which landed him the job, but after obtaining the commission he had second thoughts, tossed the gothic proposal, and enlisted the help of former co-workers William Purcell and George Elmslie who operated an architectural firm in Minneapolis.

The team’s distribution of duties were stated as follows in Western Architect: Steele who was a University of Illinois graduate in architecture, a member of the American Institute of Architects, and had worked for Louis Sullivan as a draftsman was to be the executive head and Elmslie was put in charge of design and planning. Two other men brought in for the job were Paul D. Cook as the structural engineer and B.A. Broom as the mechanical engineer.

The plan the men came up with over the spring, summer and fall of 2015 involved offices for government officials (those most visited by the public) in the four corners of the first floor, courtrooms on the second floor, and more offices for departments, department heads, clerks, and other elected officials in the six “tower” floors. A preliminary proposal of this plan was presented to the Board of Supervisors early in the year on March 23, 1915, and the Board gave their go-ahead for the work that was done over the following months by “a large force of draftsmen.” It was after the work had been completed that the attacks against the plan began at public meetings (when the proposal was discussed) and then fanned by a local press that was intent on selling papers. It was considered too controversial for many civic leaders in the community who referred to it as an “architectural experiment.” Others believed it to be too “radical” for Sioux City, Iowa. Some citizens wanted a more typical court house constructed of a tried and true muscular material, such as granite or stone, instead of Roman Brick which is different from normal brick in size and look and while the local bar association objected to the small size of the courtrooms the Sioux City trade unions endorsed the design because they understood the number of trades that would be required for its construction and the amount of work that would result from the undertaking of the enormous job.

All this began because Woodbury county had outgrown their Second Empire 1878 court house which hadn’t been built for a fast-growing community of 80,000 in mind which Woodbury county was in 1914. So, in June of that year a bond referendum was put before voters which at this early date would translate as: “voters” = men and, most likely, only white men. Fortunately, for the progress of architecture, the forward-thinking men of Woodbury county passed the referendum and provided the initial $500,000 for a new court house.

In December of 1915 the matter to proceed or not with construction was settled when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept the design. According to Western Architect the reason the opposition failed was due to the fact that they lacked a “sound and convincing argument” for their opposition. “Something else” wasn’t a good enough reason. The construction contract was awarded to the Minneapolis firm of Splady, Albee, and Smith in February of 1916 and the cornerstone was laid on July 10, 1916. E. C. Copeland, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, oversaw the event. The final cost of the building was $825,641.43 and it was completed on March 1, 1918.

On the exterior Douglas Street side of the building the huge central figure, with the big hands, big feet, and very long beard, symbolizes the spirit of the law. The freize of figures that extends outward from him, on both sides, is a representation of the community. Above them is the text: “Justice and Peace Have Met Together — Truth Hath Sprung Out of The Earth.” Western Architect described the huge figure of Law as “aged and slumbrous but strong armed and mighty.” Standing underneath the figure and looking up at him it’s difficult to disagree with that assessment.

Alfonso Iannelli was the sculptor of the figures on the building. He’s the same man who did the sprites at Midway Gardens for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1914. Western Architect said of the sculpture, “We are impressed by the splendid spiritual quality of his work. It is worked out with fine dignity and restraint. It is not applied sculpture. It is organic and belongs in very truth to this building and nowhere else. What higher praise can be given to architectural sculpture?”

On the other street facing side, 7th Street, are figures representing a man and a woman who have their backs to each other. The woman holds a baby and this is, according to various sources, a depiction of an idealized family unit circa 1918 though visually it reads as a father who has turned his back on his wife and child. Above them are the words: “Justice and Humanity.” The back of the building, which faces an alley, holds a surprise under its fire escape for there are sculptural bison’s heads which gaze down upon the alley and the building’s small, shallow loading dock. According to the blueprints this also serves as the entrance for prisoners. The south side of the building, which is separated from Sioux City’s city hall by a single row of parking spaces and driveway, lacks any awe inspiring monumental sculpture and as a result is a “let down” as one walks around the building in discovery but I suspect Steele and company were deliberately exhibiting restraint and designing on a less flashy scale. Still, the plain city hall side has many of the decorative elements that the street facing sides have: ornate terra cotta, stained glass, and intricate metal work.

The first two-stories of the court house are 57 feet tall. To the top of the building’s tower it’s 152 feet and the tower is graced, near its pinnacle, by another Iannelli sculpture of a large eagle that looks to the west with outstretched wings.

John Warner North who lived from 1876 to 1934 was responsible for the murals which have a sparseness about them that give them a Japanese quality. North stated that the design of the murals evolved slowly and he changed them repeatedly. It wasn’t the subject matter that changed though but rather the “arrangement of spaces and color.”

In the court house’s interior, above the Douglas Street entrance, is a mural which deals with the purpose of the building itself: the courtroom. Yet, in John Warner North’s (though he’s referred to as John W. Norton in Western Architect) depiction of justice, Justice, who stands on the right near the bottom, is not blindfolded but open-eyed and she carries a human heart in her hand. On the south wall, is a depiction of contented farm workers toiling earnestly. On the east wall is a split patriotic mural that endorses America’s commitment to World War I with the text: “Our liberties we prize, our rights we will maintain.” The final mural, on the north wall, depicts the evolution of time with an old woman representing the past, a youthful couple depicting the present, and adolescent boys looking at a rising metropolis as the future.

Norton painted the murals in his studio in Lockport, Illinois and they were hung in the court house in 1919. In 1973 the court house was placed on the National Historic Register, and in 1996 it was designated a National Landmark which is reserved for structures which have a national significance.

Below are images from Western Architect from 1921.

That’s the mural that represents the passage of time on the left.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Clausen, S. (1997). Woodbury County Court House.

Erickson-Puttmann, P., O’Kane, J. D., Townsend, L.W. & Zimmer, J. L. (n.d.). A statement in American architecture: Woodbury County Court House, Sioux City, Iowa.

Woodbury County Court House. (1921, February). Western Architect, 30(2), 13-20, plates 1-24.


Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 12 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements, Parkinson & Parkinson, Alfred F. Rosenheim and Paul R. Williams.

Last Remaining Seats: Orpheum Theater — Los Angeles

I went to a Last Remaining Seats that was held at the oldest surviving Orpheum Theater in the United States. It’s the one in Los Angeles.

Here it is on a postcard that I bought.

The movie being show for this event was La Muerte de un Burocrata. It’s a Cuban film from 1965.

Here’s the program for the event.

Some background information on the Orpheum.

I really liked the host Betto Arcos. He was very cool and LATINO! He had a manly style about him that made me envious. Linda Dishman, who did the welcome, is hugely responsible for saving St. Vibiana’s (along with Kathryn Welch Howe) so she’s high up on my list of people to admire. Philip Graulty was a nice performer.

Here are some pictures I took that night.

I’m amazed this stenciling wasn’t whitewashed over years ago.

If you look at the archival photos (way down below) this is where the boxes were. This theater was originally a vaudeville house.

Roundels on the ceiling.

The newel post on the north staircase. She needs to be re-bronzed.

If you look at the archival photos you’ll see that this is where the ladies parlor was. The area was being used to sell beverages at the event.

I went back a couple of days later and took these pictures.

The word Orpheum has been cemented over. Why? What was the point?

The Los Angeles Times announced that a new Orpheum building would be erected on Broadway, between 6th street and 7th, on January 2, 1910. The article contained three headlines. The first said: One of the Finest. The second headline, which was the biggest, said: To Begin New Orpheum Soon and the third said: Circuit to Build Handsome Theater on Broadway. The article mentions that work would commence immediately and the building would be finished and occupied within the year.

That didn’t happen because the grand opening of the Orpheum didn’t occur until June 26, 1911, which translates into approximately eighteen months. The article also states that the building would employ all the latest techniques in theater building.

The Orpheum management took out a fifty year lease on the property. The owners of the building were: N. Bonfilio, L. J. Christopher, John R. Hayes and Harry Chandler. The original cost was estimated to be $250,000 but that amount would increase to $350,000 by the time the building opened. In this article it states the building, “has been designed by and will be put up under the supervision of R. B. Young & Sons, architects.” That’s a mistake because G. Albert Lansburgh is the architect of record on the building. Either Lansburgh replaced Young & Sons after the article was published or Young & Sons were the supervising “day to day” architects on the job. Lansburgh was based in San Francisco so it’s possible.

The theater would have 1,956 seats and the article stressed there would be an “unusual number of safe and comfortable exits…” This Orpheum Theater was built seven years after the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago, which claimed hundreds of lives, so being able to quickly exit a theater was an important feature to mention and herald to the public. When this theater was completed it would be the thirty-sixth theater the Orpheum organization owned. It sounds like the Orpheum organization owned the theater but leased the space from the owners of the building that surrounded the theater.

My question regarding R. B. Young & Sons was answered in a Times article from August 6, 1910. The first paragraph of that article which was titled, Orpheum Contracts said, “Contracts were signed yesterday for the interior design and decoration of the new Orpheum Theater building on South Broadway, now under construction. G. Albert Lansburgh, San Francisco architect of the structure was here, and made the arrangements, together with R. B. Young, the local supervising architect.” The firm that received the contract for interior design and decoration of the auditorium was Mitchell & Halback of Chicago. They beat out a local bid from a company called McKay & Co.

At this point two-thirds of the steel frame had been erected and riveting was to begin the following week. Once again it was noted that the Orpheum would have features not found in any other theater. Three in particular were mentioned: 1) “showers for performers” 2) “a special animal room with tub and showers” and 3) “a thermostaic heating plant” which would cool “as well as maintain the air – which will be washed and filtered at an even temperature all the time though constantly changing it.” It sounds like a thermostat connected to a furnace with a ventilation system.

In February of 1911, an article appeared in the Times with the headline, How About the Old Orpheum? Speculation regarding the fate of the Orpheum on Spring Street was being bandied about by various individuals around the city. No one was sure what would happen to the old Orpheum but a New York paper “which has some inside ways of obtaining considerable theatrical information” reported that Oliver Morosco was going to take over the building and use it for Shubert “dollar shows.” When confronted with the scenario Morosco feigned surprise and wouldn’t confirm or deny the report.

Three months later, in May of 1911, a Music and Stage column detailed the progress of the new Orpheum. The scaffolding that was being used to apply gold leaf to the decorative domes would be removed within the week. Work on the proscenium arch was almost complete. The fronts of the boxes had their stucco applied but still needed to be painted. The chairs hadn’t been brought into the theater yet but they could be set up and secured to the floor very quickly. Miles of electrical wiring had been installed along with interior phone lines. The last sentence in the article stated due to the excitement the theater was generating, “It is expected that almost every high official of every Orpheum on the circuit will be here for the ceremony on opening day.”

On June 11, 1911, it was announced that the Orpheum’s opening would occur on a Monday evening, on June 26th. The date was decided upon by resident manager Clarence Drown and Lansburgh. They made their decision so, “that every detail of the fine building shall have been completed. There will be no smell of wet paint or varnish, no unfasted seats or incomplete stage.” According to the article the seats and drapery would be installed the next day.

At the Orpheum on Spring Street an auction was held for the Associated Charities on June 14, 1911. What was being auctioned were the parquet, box and loge seats for the opening night of the new Orpheum Theater. Admission to the auction was by invitation only and began at 10 am. The proceedings had to be finished by noon so the venue could be readied for an afternoon performance.

The way the auction would work is if an individual paid $4 for a seat that would normally cost $1 the Orpheum Theater would receive the $1 fee that they normally charge for the seat and the Associated Charites would receive the other $3. A large diagram of the theater was placed on the stage so everyone would know what was being bid upon. Once a seat or box was sold it was crossed off the diagram. The seats had to be paid for at the time the bidder won. Eddie Nagel and R. M. Kemp were the auctioneers and “young society debutantes and matrons” were the ushers and they collected bids (money) from patrons sitting in the auditorium.

According to reports the following day approximately 300 attended the event. “The sale was a great success,” related the Times, “and fancy prices were eagerly paid. There were many among the elegantly dressed ladies and smiling business men who felt a pang of regret at the passing of the time honored old Orpheum.” Some of the notable prices paid were by L. J. Christopher who paid $120 for the choicest box in the theater. R. B. Young & Sons bought a box for $105. I.F. Ihmsen bought a box for $150, paid for it, and then immediately turned it back to the auctioneer so it could be resold.

At the end of the auction the Times and Examiner newspapers oversaw a luncheon at the Alexandria Hotel for the matrons and debutantes who served as ushers.

Twelve days before the theater opened the Times ran an article titled, Some Wonders at New Orpheum. The paper claimed the theater was an architect’s dream and that Lansburgh had created a building that could best be described as being in the modern renaissance style. The lower stories which were composed of marble and granite were “severely plain to set off the more lace-like upper portion.” Polychrome terra cotta was being used for the first time on a building in the west along with “mat glazed tile and (a) tapestry brick in cream.” Each arch in the front of the building was outlined in polychrome and while color was used liberally on the façade it wasn’t overpowering. The structure was a “combination of beauty, modernity and practical utility” and “is a representative twentieth century American edifice.”

The Orpheum finally opened on June 26, 1911, and regarding the opening bill I was mistaken. For some reason I thought there would be a film presentation but it was all vaudeville. No opening night speeches were given on behalf of the new house instead the show simply began at 8:40 p.m. when English comedian Hal Forde stumbled out of the wings and sang a song called “Mr. Henpeck.” Forde not only sang songs but he also did stunts and impersonations. He was followed by “The Little Stranger” sketch which starred Joseph Hart and revolved around two race track men and how one takes a little stranger into his destitute home.

Up next was Henry Clive, the “droll josher,” a magician accompanied by his assistant Mai Sturgis Walker who was “petite and exquisitely shaped.” Evidently, Clive was a favorite and well known to regular Orpheum patrons. An all-girl singing group called The Boston Fadettes followed Clive. They sang and played instruments “sometimes noisy, sometimes tuneful.”

At this point there was an intermission which clocked in at thirty minutes and allowed everyone the opportunity to poke around the building and discover where everything was. Most of the men eventually found their way to the smoking room which was club-like in size. On hand in this room was “a slave” who “dispersed cigarettes which disappeared with a rapidity which was positively alarming.”

When the Orpheum orchestra’s conductor, Frankenstein (yes, that was his name — see below), called the audience back with the Jubel overture the second half of the evening began. Up first was Isabell d’Armond, a soubrette, who was described as tiny and talented, and she performed with George Moore. Her routine consisted of dancing and “patter talk.” According to Wikipedia a soubrette is a “type of operatic soprano voice often cast as a female stock character in opera or theater.” Patter talk according to Wikipedia is “any rapid manner of talking, and of a patter-song, in which a very large number of words have to be sung at high speed to fit the music.”

She was followed by a William H. Macart & Ethlynne Bradford sketch called “A Legitimate Hold-up” that was part comedy and part drama. Ed Wynn and P. O’Mally Jennings did some sort of act surrounding the word “daffydils.” It wasn’t clear to me what they did exactly. The review said they “exploited a line of daffydils of their own manufacture or cunning.” The final act was Bowers, Walters and Crooker who did a rural comedy sketch.  The man who reviewed the opening night, Julian Johnson, stated that Bowers, Walters and Crooker “concluded the program which was followed, as usual, by the “daylight pictures.” I wasn’t sure what daylight pictures were. The publication Montography refers to “daylight pictures” occasionally in its text so, maybe, short films were shown at the end of the program?

Those in attendance that night were included in a long list at the end of the review. Most were unknown to me but some stood out including: L. J. Christopher, Harry Chandler, R. B. Young, Mr. & Mrs. Oliver Morosco, Mr. & Mrs. Walter P. Story and Mr. & Mrs. Marco Hellman.

See, his name really was Frankenstein.

While Variety said he was let go. In a Times article dated October 11, 1928, it states that Frankenstein tendered his resignation several days ago. He worked for the Orpheum orchestra for “thirty years, six months and twenty-two days.” The first violinist, Edward Sullivan, would be promoted to conductor. “A long rest” was the only activity Frankenstein had planned for the immediate future.

I like the curtains on the railings.

I like his mustache.

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be 12 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements, Parkinson & Parkinson, Alfred F. Rosenheim and Paul R. Williams.


Cline, W. H. (1911, September). The new Orpheum theater building, Los Angeles. Architect and Engineer, 26(2), 34-50.

Daylight pictures. (1911, October). Montography, 6(4), p. 198.

Events in local society. (1911, June 15). Los Angeles Times, p. II6.

Frankenstein, after 30 years let out by L.A. Orpheum. (1928, October 10). Variety, p. 29.

How about the old Orpheum? (1911, February 2). Los Angeles Times, p. II5.

Johnson, J. (1911, June 27). New Orpheum’s bright birth in sudden blaze of tungsten glory. Los Angeles Times, p. I2.

Music and stage. (1911, May 20). Los Angeles Times, p. II5.

New Orpheum opening date. (1911, June 11). Los Angeles Times, p. II8.

Nineteen bid, who’s twenty? (1911, June 14). Los Angeles Times, p. I7.

Orpheum contracts. (1910, August 6). Los Angeles Times, p. II5.

Some wonders at new Orpheum. (1911, June 14). Los Angeles Times, p. II3.

To begin new Orpheum soon. (1910, January 2). Los Angeles Times, p. V1.

Veteran of orchestra pit to quit. (1928, October 11). Los Angeles Times, p. A10.

Morgan Walls & Clements: Hollywood Terminal Warehouse

An article in The Los Angeles Times from September of 1925 stated that the erection of the Hollywood Terminal Warehouse was progressing at a very fast rate. Seven floors had already been constructed and the building would eventually top out at fourteen stories despite there being a twelve story height limit in Los Angeles.

The article claimed that “because of the nature of the construction” the fourteen stories would meet the city’s twelve story height limit but the article doesn’t describe specifically what is meant by that phrase. In the same paragraph it does mention that there would be a radio station, with two antennas, on top of the building which required a special permit and elsewhere states the Hollywood Terminal Warehouse (also known as the Hollywood Terminal Building) would be the tallest building in Los Angeles. I’m guessing it was the antennas that took the building up to fourteen stories. The estimated cost of the building was $500,000.

The building was developed by the C. E. Toberman Company and was built by the Hollywood Fireproof Storage Company. Charles A. Reinhart was the manager of Hollywood Fireproof and he stated the building would be a storage facility along with providing separate office and showroom space for lease.

Reinhart stated that the building would have fast freight and elevator service and railroad connectivity through a spur track.

While the building was slated for completion in February of 1926 the grand opening didn’t take place until June of that year. The final cost of the building was $750,000. For the opening there was a small orchestral concert in the afternoon from 3pm to 5pm and later that evening, from 8:30pm to 10:30pm, there was a full blown concert in the building’s lobby featuring “dramatic tenor soloist” C. Howard Paxton.

Not only was the Hollywood Terminal Warehouse the largest warehouse on the Pacific coast but because of the 150-foot radio towers it was also the tallest building in Los Angeles.

This is what the building looks like today. There used to be decorative plaster work around the middle glass arch. It’s been replaced by those glass blocks.

This is stranding in the center of the building and looking straight up.

Grill work inside one of the entrances.

Grill work above the door.

It’s a huge building with nothing of similar height anywhere around.

Photos of the building from when it was new follow.

This and the following three images are from a 1927 book called, American Architecture of the Twentieth Century.

I don’t know how anyone could think removing all the plaster work around the doorways and that large front window would be an improvement.

Note: I have a book coming out in the latter half of 2018 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. It will be about 12 different architects (architectural firms) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements, Parkinson & Parkinson, Alfred F. Rosenheim and Paul R. Williams.

________________________________________________________

New terminal building opened with concerts. (1926, June 19). Los Angeles Times, p. 6.

Reagan, O. (Ed.). (1927-1929). American architecture of the twentieth century. New York: Architectural Book Publishing Co., Inc.

Rush terminal building. (1925, September 27). Los Angeles Times, p. E11.

Birth of Motion Pictures

There was a wonderful exhibit down in Brea, California regarding the birth of motion pictures. I had never been to this space before but not only did I discover that it was a nice venue but the show was well done, they had great posters and admission was only $3. My brother, who lives in Iowa, saw a story about the exhibit in his local newspaper (The Quad-City Times) and alerted me to it.

The collection belongs to Dwight Manley who first made money in rare coins and then moved into other areas, including real estate, to amass a fortune. Manley’s goal is to acquire a poster from every silent film made in the United States. It’s generous of him to allow the public to see his fantastic collection.

This is a postcard that was handed out at the show. The woman in the image is the greatest star of them all Gloria Swanson.

This digital sign made it clear I was in the right place.

The exhibit was held in this ship-like building.

This guide was handed out at the entrance. It shows where everything was located.

This poster was right inside the front door. That looks like Jack Holt embracing Mary Pickford.

Note: The gallery was very well lit which was great for taking photographs but made it difficult to get an image without the reflection of lights on the glass.

This poster and the one of Tom Mix that follows were two of my favorites at the show.

Where are my Children? was a social responsibility picture. See description below.

Note: I took a picture of the item’s description but it was too blurry to post. This is what the description said:

———————————————————————————

Where Are My Children?, 1916

Tyrone Power Sr.

Studio: Universal

Stone Lithography on Paper, 1 sheet

Where Are My Children?, Lois Weber’s 1916 medical melodrama about a successful doctor who believes abortions are permissible for poor society bit frowns  upon the procedure for the upper class because of his belief in eugenics. However, he is unaware that his own wife has been having abortions as she prefers life without children; late in the film, he discovers her terrible secret. Starring Tyrone Power Sr., Helen Riaume, Marie Walcamp, Cora Drew, and Rena Rogers.

Far and away the two most famous films from 1916 are D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance and Thomas Ince’s Civilization, though this film deserves to be just as well remembered. Directed by Lois Weber, a giant of early cinema and the only woman to make major Hollywood movies of note in the mid-1910s, the film deals with the issues of birth control and abortion. It was loosely inspired by a real life case involving Margaret Sanger, a major birth control advocate, who was put on trial after a woman had an abortion after receiving a leaflet from Sanger. Far beyond that, however, this film explores the then popular concept of eugenics, a theory which correlated wealth and favorable genetics. This theory became completely discredited after it was advocated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. There were some exploitation movies dealing with abortion in the 1930s to 1950s, but there has not been another serious Hollywood movie about abortion that presents both sides of the issue evenly since this film, nearly a century ago. The film closes on a powerful scene of the doctor and his wife in their later years, childless, but surrounded by the ghostly souls of the children they never had. This is surely one of the most important early silent movies but perhaps it is because of its controversial nature that it is little talked about today; certainly a similar situation exists with 1915’s Birth of a Nation. This poster is the only known example for this film of this style.


Here’s what Who’s Who in California: A Biographical Dictionary 1928-1929 says about Lois Weber.

b stands for birth. d stands for daughter (of). m stands for married.

Lois Weber with her first husband Phillips Smalley.

In Tony Slide’s book on Lois Weber, Lois Weber the Director Who Lost Her Way in History, Slide states that Smalley often took co-director credit but there’s no evidence that Smalley ever did anything except sit around on the set and be supportive. Smalley didn’t work in motion pictures after his divorce from Weber in 1922.

Weber made a number of films with provocative titles or films that were just provocative including one called Hypocrites (1915) which dealt with religion and the naked truth. The naked truth in this instance was portrayed by Margaret Edwards who was awarded a medal as the most perfectly formed girl in the world before landing her role in Weber’s picture. Weber filmed Edwards naked and had The Naked Truth appear on the screen at various times throughout the movie. Sure the film was banned in some places due to the blatant nudity but the film was a big hit too. Weber was pretty smart and knew what audiences wanted: religion and nudity.

Weber died as a result of complications from a bleeding ulcer in 1939. She didn’t have much money at the end of her life so her funeral was paid for by Frances Marion. Weber wrote a book regarding her time in Hollywood and willed it to her sister but the sister was unable to get the book published and the book was lost or stolen sometime in the early 1970s.

Here’s another photo of Weber from Tony Slide’s book. She’s awfully dressed up to write.

Spartacus appears to be fearless though, strangely, he’s dressed very similar to Lois Weber in that typewriter photograph. I couldn’t wear what he’s wearing because it’s too girlish. I can see myself wearing what Kirk Douglas wore in the 1960s version of Spartacus. In that movie Kirk wore a leather harness, some bikini-toga-like shorts and man-ish sandals. That ensemble I could carry off.

There was a whole room devoted to Gloria Swanson.

Elinor Glynn is one of those individuals that I’m somewhat fascinated by. Evidently, she was connected to the film Beyond the Rocks.

This is from Who’s Who in California: A Biographical Dictionary 1928-1929. She looks like a drag queen to me. Joanna Lumley does a good job portraying Glynn in the movie The Cat’s Meow.

There were a lot of posters at this show that I would like to own but the one I would really want to have, to display in my humble home, would be this poster of Douglas Fairbanks. He’s my favorite silent film star.

This poster looks very art nouveau.

Never heard of this film and it’s too big to be framed. It must be a 24 sheet.

This obit is from the April 12, 1932 issue of Variety.

Below is a review of Rip Van Winkle from Variety dated November 28, 1914.

Who’s the guy behind Rudy? A Russian version of the Lone Ranger?

I’ve always liked Felix. I think it’s a Latino thing.

This is the text for the Houdini poster.

My brother likes Lon Chaney.

I took a picture of the textual information beside this image but my photo was too angled which made it difficult to read so I retyped it below.

London After Midnight, 1927

Lon Chaney Sr.

Studio: Metro-MGM

Stone Lithography on Paper, 1 sheet

London After Midnight, released in England as The Hypnotist, Tod Browning’s 1927 murder mystery thriller. In this film, Lon Chaney plays a detective and accomplished hypnotist who is trying to solve a cold case murder. With his skills, he is able to hypnotize the principals and have them reenact the crime, which reveals who the murderer was. In the most memorable scene of the film, Chaney disguises himself as a vampire in an attempt to interrogate neighbors who are accused of committing the murder because they are vampires. Starring Lon Chaney Sr. in his first and only role as a vampire, Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall, Percy Williams, Conrad Nagel, Polly Moran, Edna Tichenor, and Claude King. Likely the most sought after lost film, the last copy of which burned in a studio fire in 1965, this exceptional Argentinian 1 Sheet poster displays identical artwork to the original U.S. 1 Sheet featuring “the man of a thousand faces,” Lon Chaney. Only a single U.S. 1 Sheet is known to exist and this is one of possibly two known Argentinian 1 Sheets of this title. Acquired from the collection of Metallica guitarist and legendary horror collector Kirk Hammett, this poster has an incredible image of Chaney as the vampire-like character behind Marceline Day over London Bridge.

My friend, who went with me to the exhibit, liked this poster the best.

Below is a review of the film from Variety dated April 25, 1919. I don’t think this writer knew how to write a review which tells me there have been incompetent people throughout time.

There was a special section devoted to this film, White Shadows of the South Seas, and its Oscar.

This is what it says on the bottom of the Oscar.

That Heart of California poster is just beautiful.

With the monocle it looks like Fatty’s attempting to be a sophisticate. It amazes me that these things still exist.

The guy who owns these posters frames them as if they were art.

The exhibit was nicely arranged.


Detwiler, J. B. (Ed.). (1929). Who’s who in California: a biographical directory 1928-29. San Francisco: Who’s Who Publishing Company.

Slide, A. (1996). Lois Weber: the director who lost her way in history. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Stamp, S. (2015). Lois Weber in early Hollywood. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Variety Film Reviews 1907-1980. (1983). (Vol. 1, November 28, 1914). New York: Garland Publishing.

Variety Film Reviews 1907-1980. (1983). (Vol. 1, April 25, 1919). New York: Garland Publishing.

Variety Obituaries 1905-1986. (1988). (Vol. 2, April 12, 1932). New York: Garland Publishing.

Vazzana, E. M. (1995). Silent film necrology. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

 

Ventura, California

There was an Odd Fellows’ instructional session up in Ventura, California that I attended. It was held at the Ventura Odd Fellows’ lodge on Main Street. The lodge is in a nice, old building with a vertical sign out front and the three links above the doorway. The first floor of the building has shops while the lodge is on the second floor.

The Ventura Odd Fellows’ lodge building.

Ventura is an old coastal town and I found the building below to be particularly impressive.

It turned out to be a Morgan Walls & Clements building. I should have known. They’re an architectural firm that I’ve always been interested in.

Some detail on the Bank of Italy building.

More detail from the side of the building.

Down a couple of blocks from the Bank of Italy is a mission.

It’s the Mission San Buenaventura.

A wedding was happening inside the mission so I wasn’t able to take the $4 tour. I bought this postcard to soothe my disappointment.

This sculpture was on the building next to the mission. He looks like he’s from the 1930s and sculpted by Eric Gill.

So, I was walking down a side street and stumbled upon this.

I’ve always liked Perry Mason.

I turned on Perry last night just to take a photo of him and my favorite episode was on: The Case of the Nebulous Nephew. I would let Raymond Burr defend me.

There were lots of nice old Victorian style houses near the beach.

There’s a big pier too.

Me almost on the beach. I would like to live in Ventura but I was told by one of my Odd Fellow brothers that it’s a rather expensive town to live in so I remain an Angelino.

 

California Science Center

There was an exhibit at the California Science Center that I went to see.

It was an exhibit concerning Pixar animation.

It was about Pixar animation.

These banners are pretty effective.

These banners are very enticing and effective. They got me to go.

The California Science Center is housed in an old building in Exposition Park. It was built in 1912.

The California Science Center is housed in an old building in Exposition Park. It was built in 1912 as the State Exposition Building.

I have yet to uncover who the architect was.

I have yet to uncover who the architect was.

Evidently, the facade is the only thing that remains of the original building. The building behind it was demolished.

Evidently, the facade is the only thing that remains of the original building. The building attached to the facade was demolished.

img_4549

There was a short film after you went through this door that detailed how animation is now done in 2017.

After you went through this door, a short film that detailed how animation is created in 2017 was shown but I wasn’t really interested in that.

I suspect what everyone came for was to see the big characters from the movies.

I suspect everyone went to see these big movie characters.

That's what I came for.

That’s why I went.

There were clay models too.

There were models in resin…

...and robot's too.

…and robot’s too.

There was an interactive component to it also.

The exhibit contained an interactive component but I’m not somebody who wants to sit in front of a monitor and play with switches. I’m not eleven.

I fear I'm turning into this old man.

What scares me is I suspect I’m turning into this old man.

I got some surly teenager who was loud and kind of obnoxious to take this picture of me. When I asked for his help he turned into this really thoughtful person.

I asked a surly teenager who was loud and obnoxious to take this picture of me. When I requested his help he turned into a different person though; suddenly, he became kind and thoughtful. Maybe, it was because somebody asked him to help them? I just need the suspenders and my hair to go white and I’m there.

img_4538

Someone told me she was modeled on Edith Head.

In another room the exhibit continued but the real show was in the first room. Someone told me this character, from The Incredibles, was modeled after Edith Head. She looks like Edith Head.

img_4543

That’s real pretty.

img_4547

Downstairs there was an amazing part of America’s history on display.

img_4557

I had never seen it but since I was so close I decided to stop by.

You can walk under it.

You can walk under it. For some reason I felt more emotion walking under The Endeavor than I did watching the movie Moonlight. Go figure.

 

Odd Fellows’ Seminar in Reno

The California Odd Fellows held an educational seminar in Reno on January 14 & 15, 2017.

logo

The seminar was held in a city I had never been to before.

The seminar was held in a city I had never been to before: Reno. Interesting development that I noticed was the further I drove away from this sign, the grittier the city got. This other side of Reno reminded me of an old industrial town that had seen better days.

Driving up there required me to take interstate 5 all the way to Sacramento and then the 80 east to Reno. I didn't expect the snow.

I drove up the day before the conference began and the drive required me to take interstate 5 to Sacramento and then interstate 80 to Reno. I didn’t expect the snow in Donner Summit. It was a surprise.

The event was held at the El Dorado Hotel and I had a nice big room to myself.

The event was held at the El Dorado Hotel and I had a nice big room to myself.

El Dorado exterior.

An exterior view.

The El Dorado is across the street from this very garish Circus Circus sign. I'm strangely fascinated by the sign and yet repelled by it at the same time.

The El Dorado is across the street from this garish Circus Circus sign. I’m strangely fascinated by the sign and yet repelled by it’s kitschiness at the same time.

The El Dorado was filled with items like this. This was an homage to mining of silver.

My casino was filled with items like this. This was built as a tribute to Nevada silver mines. It looks very steampunk.

The event was held in this ballroom and approximately 100 people attended.

The seminar was held in this ballroom and over 100 people attended.

Dave Rosenberg was in charge of the event and he received help from his daughter Janis.

Dave Rosenberg was in charge of the event and he received help from his daughter Janis. Dave did a presentation on Parliamentary Procedures that I found extremely helpful. Dave also kept the events on schedule and running smoothly. Dave is a judge in northern California.

Rita... did a presentation on how to make your lodge hall more attractive.

Rita Cooper’s topic was Improving the appearance of your lodge.

In her presentaiton she included a number of slides.

Rita included a number of cool slides.

The California Grand Master, Peter Sellers, attended and did a couple of presentations.

The California Grand Master, Peter Sellers, attended and did a couple of presentations; one presentation was about Odd Fellows’ history while another dealt with “difficult issues and difficult people.”

California Grand Warden, Mel Astrem, did a presentation on How to be an effictive representative to the Grand Lodge.

California Grand Warden, Mel Astraham, addressed the crowd on How to be an effective representative to the Grand Lodge. Mel was also there to get some footage for IOOFtv.

Stewart Savage, who's with Davis Lodge, did a presentation on how to attract new members and he seemed like a very nice man. In this image he's dialing his daughter whose birthday he was missing due to the seminar.

Stewart Savage, who’s a member of Davis Lodge, spoke about community service and seemed like a very nice man. In this image he’s dialing his daughter whose birthday he missed due to the seminar.

He had us all sing Happy Birthday to her via his phone.

He had us all sing Happy Birthday to her via his phone.

The second day included various presentations.

The second day included various presentations.

One was by Dave Reed and regarded rental agreements. Basically, he stressed know what your signing and have other lodge members look it over.

One was by Dave Reed and regarded rental agreements. Basically, he stressed: know what your signing and have other lodge members look it over before you sign it.

The short morning session was topped off by an Odd Fellows trivia contest and answering participants questions.

The morning session was topped off by an Odd Fellows’ trivia contest followed by a Q & A.

The seminar was well worth the 8 hour drive to Reno and I'm very happy I went.

The seminar was well worth the 8 hour drive to Reno and I’m happy I went.

 

Hollyhock House

I’ve been to the Hollyhock House, at least, four times.  A couple of Saturdays ago there was a three hour symposium in Barnsdall Park and I went.

ticket-a-side

Three individuals did presentations and were later joined by two others for a panel discussion. The guy below, Timothy Totten, was up first.

img_4128

Timothy Totten. He was full of information regarding Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s life not only in relation to the Hollyhock House but beyond that too. He only spoke for forty-five minutes but it would have been easy to listen to him speak for another forty-five. He was listed on the event’s website as a “master storyteller.” That fits him. At one point, when recounting a FLW story he referred to his own “exquisite eyebrows” to make a point. I don’t know if they were exquisite but Tim Totten had lots of personality.

Also at the symposium was an author and lecturer who grew up in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Her name is Kim Bixler and she wrote this book:

kim-bixler

Bixler was raised in an upstate New York Frank Lloyd Wright house. She had photographs that proved living in a FLW house isn’t all morris chairs and dried pussy willows. Her parents joined her, on stage, during the panel section and seemed like decent, kind people.

Aline Barnsdall is responsible for the Hollyhock House just as much as Frank Lloyd Wright. She’s the one that selected him and she’s the one that went back and forth with him over the plans. Her determination to get the house built led Wright to eventually refer to her as “his most difficult client.”

Aline Barnsdall's father has a plaque near the Hollyhock House ticket booth.

Aline Barnsdall’s father has a plaque near the Hollyhock House ticket booth.

Aline, born on April 1, 1882, received a large inheritance from her father, Theodore, who made his money in oil and gas. She originally was interested in acting and studied with Eleanor Duse for a year but Duse saw her potential not in acting but behind the scenes and told her so. Designer Norman Bel Geddes who met Barnsdall years later gave her a backhanded comment when he said his impression of her was that she was, “erratic, unpredictable, contrary, stubborn and generous.” Bel Geddes went on to say, “she had a violent passion against convention; was one hundred percent rebel; would give vast sums of money to anything revolutionary, not because she was sympathetic to the principal involved, but because it was challenging easy conformity.”

Wright in his autobiography said of Barnsdall, “Her very large, wide-open eyes gave her a disingenuous expression not connected with the theater and her extremely small hands and feet somehow seemed not connected with ambition such as hers.”

Originally, Barnsdall wanted to build a theater in Chicago but by 1915 that plan had fallen away and instead she decided to move to San Francisco with the intention of building a small theater at that location. She was in long distance contact with Wright for years through letters regarding plans for a house but two problems cropped up: 1) Wright had signed a contract to design and build the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo so a great deal of his time was wrapped up with that endeavor during this time period and 2) while Barnsdall knew she wanted Wright to design her complex of buildings she hadn’t settled upon a site and it was impossible for Wright to design what she wanted when he didn’t know where the building would be situated.

After years of looking eventually Aline found a site in Olive Hill (now Barnsdall Park) which consisted of 36 acres. Los Angeles civic leaders had considered this plot of land for a public park because of its proximity to downtown along with its views of downtown to the east and the Hollywood hills to the west. When Barnsdall purchased the land it had been on the market for an extended period of time and priced at the steep price of $10,000 per acre. Barnsdall made an offer of $300,000 for the entire lot or just over $8,000 per acre. That offer was accepted.

Aline wanted four major buildings built upon the site. She wanted a home, a theater, a small house for the director of the theater and an apartment building to house the actors of the theater. The estimated cost for all four buildings, from Wright, was approximately $375,000 which was $75,000 more than the estimate from another architectural firm that she considered for the project which was the firm of Walker and Eisen

The house that Walker and Eisen submitted to Barnsdall for the Olive Hill property was a one story house in the Spanish Colonial Revival style with a plaster exterior and a tile roof. It contained five bedrooms and three and a half baths. Barnsdall commissioned these plans mostly likely when her frustration with Frank Lloyd Wright was at its peak. For it seems, Wright kept stringing her along with promise after promise of plans, models and colored drawings that never seemed to materialize or materialized months or years after they were promised. In Kathryn Smith’s book on the Hollyhock House she recounts in letters from Barnsdall to Wright Barnsdall’s continual exasperation at the lack of progress on the plans for the house. It’s really amazing the house was ever actually built because in numerous letters Barnsdall asks Wright if they should proceed with the endeavor of if they should just call the whole thing off. Wright seemed to sense when Barnsdall was at her wits end because it was then, and only then, that he would get to work and supply her with just enough of what she wanted to keep her on the hook.

One thing of note that I found interesting was that Barnsdall was most likely the one who put forth the idea of incorporating hollyhocks into the overall design Wright later said, “…Miss Barnsdall had pre-named the house for the Hollyhock she loved for many reasons, all of the good ones, and called upon me to render her favorite flower as a feature of (the) Architecture, how I might.”

Aline also said in a letter to Wright, “I don’t want it to look green but to feel green as a background for the rich hollyhock…”

  • Wright never stated what the Hollyhock House mantel depicted but his son Lloyd Wright claimed that it depicts Aline Barnsdall as an Indian princess on the left side, upon a throne no less, and she is surveying her land which is depicted on the right.
  • Wright’s local Los Angeles office was in the Homer Laughlin building at 522 Broadway located next to the Million Dollar Theater. That location is currently occupied by the Grand Central Market.
  • Barnsdall was a supporter of both birth control advocate Margaret Singer and political activist Emma Goldman.
  • Rudolf Schindler, who worked on the project stated there were some Mayan motifs in the design though the Los Angeles Times referred to it as a “modernized Aztec style.”
  • When the house was finished in 1921, the final cost of the house, with improvements, (it leaked so badly most of the floors buckled and had to be replaced) was $990,000 including architect’s fees.
  • By 1923 Barnsdall wanted to sell the house and land for $1.8 million but decided against it because she didn’t want Olive Hill sold to a hotel syndicate “and have it turned into a jazz parlor where smokers would congregate.”
  • Barnsdall chose not to live in the house. She later stated, “Its more ornate beauty never satisfied me. My heart was not in it. I never felt well on Olive Hill…”
This is the entrance into the house on the north side. There is a long narrow entry that leads to two large wooden doors.

This is the entrance into the house on the north side. There is a long narrow loggia that leads to two large wooden doors. (Please forgive the poor quality of the picture but I was shooting into the sun.)

These three plaques are attached to one of the entrance walls.

dscn0598

dscn0599

dscn0602

This is the west side of the house that looks toward the Hollywood hills.

This is the west side of the house that looks toward the Hollywood hills.

West side house detail.

West side house detail.

This is the south side of the building.

This is the south side of the building.

Close up of a planter.

Close up of a planter.

This is still the south side of the house but a bit close up and from a different angle.

This is still the south side of the house but a bit closer up and from a different angle.

This south side view shows the mass of the building.

This south side view shows the mass of the building. The fence is necessary but it’s an unfortunate element for photographers to deal with.

I like this treatment of the windows.

I like this treatment of these windows.

This a view of the east side of the building.

This is a view of the east side of the building.

This a backside view of the guy frolicking in the water.

A view of the guy frolicking in the water.

Still the east side of the building but from another angle.

Still the east side of the building but from another angle.

This large planter is in the parking court.

This large planter is in the parking court.

One of the Hollyhock house light fixtures. I'm not sure who designed these.

One of the Hollyhock House light fixtures. I’m not sure who designed these.

Even in the 1920s the Hollyhock House was used for exhibits.

Even in the 1920s the Hollyhock House was used for exhibits.

This book is from 1928 but unfortunately I only had access to the French version. The pictures look the same though even in French book.

This book is from 1928. Unfortunately I only had access to the French version of the book yet the photographs are the same even though the book is in French.

What I like best is the emptiness of the images.

What I like best about these photographs is the emptiness in the images.

The population of Hollywood in 1925 was....

Hollywood was still a small town in 1920.

More emptiness.

Regarding the top photo: the approach to Olive Hill doesn’t look like that anymore. That view is very romantic and rual.

guardian-building027

The two following photos show the mantle in the living room. They are from a 1926 book on FLW.

guardian-building033

guardian-building037

If you want further information on the Hollyhock House the go-to-book is by Kathryn Smith. It contains everything you would want to know about the Hollyhock House and it is filled with photographs and diagrams.

It's a great book and worth buying.

It’s a great book and worth buying. All the textual information concerning the Hollyhock House, that I used in this post, was gleaned from Smith’s book.

Indoor photography isn’t allowed in the Hollyhock House but there are scores of photographs of the interior on the internet. Just google the Hollyhock House for them.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Hitchcock, H.-R. (1928). Frank Lloyd Wright. Paris: Cahiers d’art.

McClurg, V. B. (1928, March). An exhibition of architecture and the arts. California Southland, 9(99), 11.

Smith, K. (1992). Frank Lloyd Wright: hollyhock house and olive hill. New York: Rizzoli.

Wright, F. L. (1926). Frank Lloyd Wright: the life work of the American architect. Chicago: A. Kroch.