Tuesday, December 18, 2012

William Mulholland Memorial Fountain, Walter S. Clayberg, Designer, 1940

William Mulholland was a 'penniless Irish immigrant' and a self-taught engineer who became head of the Los Angeles Bureau of Water Works & Supply at a time when business and civic leaders in Los Angeles were realizing that development would remain limited without additional water resources. Mulholland, with the support of another visionary, Fred Eaton, implemented a plan to redirect water from the Owens Valley on the eastern slopes of the Sierras. The result of their efforts, the California Aqueduct, is one of the great engineering wonders of the world. Employing 5000 workers and 6000 mules, the 238- mile long aqueduct was completed under budget in record time.

Mulholland, the poor immigrant who lived for a time in a one-room wooden shack near the present-day fountain died in 1935. The fountain dedicated to him was completed in 1940. Approximately 3,000 people attended the dedication ceremony on August 1, 1940. A memorial plaque at the foot of the fountain reads, 'To William Mulholland (1855-1935): A Penniless Irish Immigrant Boy who Rose by the Force of his Industry, Intelligence, Integrity and Intrepidity to be a Sturdy American Citizen, a Self-Educated Engineering Genius, a Whole-Hearted Humanitarian, The Father of this City's Water System, and the Builder of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. This Memorial is Gratefully Dedicated to those who are the Recipients of His Unselfish Bounty and the Beneficiaries of His Prophetic Vision.'

The Mulholland Fountain is located at the Intersection of Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Blvd. in Los Feliz. It was declared an Historic-Cultural Monument in the City of Los Angeles in 1976 (No. 162).

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Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect 1921

One of Los Angeles' great civic landmarks, Hollyhock House was built for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, who inherited the estate of her grandfather, William Barnsdall (who had the good fortune of discovering the second oil-producing well in the United States). The heiress had a passion for the arts, serving as co-director of an experimental theater company in Chicago, where she met architect Frank Lloyd Wright. While on a trip to California in 1915, the idea of developing a theatrical community in Los Angeles sparked her imagination with the innovative Wright to be her choice as architect.

The house takes its name from the hollyhock, a favorite flower of Barnsdall, which is stylized in the decorative elements of the home including the roofline, walls, columns, and furniture. The master plan called for an arts complex to be built on the thirty-six acre site known as Olive Hill consisting of a home for Barnsdall and her daughter, two guest houses, theater, dormitory and studios for actors and artists, shops, a home for the center's director and a movie theater. Only three of the structures were actually realized, the residence and guest houses. Although Wright is credited with the design, the actual construction was supervised by his apprentice, Rudolf Schindler, and Wright's son, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., who would establish prominent careers of their own. (Frank Lloyd Wright was preoccupied with work on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo during most of the construction).

In 1927, Barnsdall, without ever having lived at Hollyhock, deeded the house and eleven surrounding acres to the City of Los Angeles. It was leased to various organizations including the California Art Club and Dorothy Clune Murray's Olive Hill Foundation in the ensuing decades, enduring alterations to suit the various needs of the tenants. In 1974, the facility underwent an extensive restoration, bringing back much of the original appearance.

Although Barnsdall's dream of a center for the arts was not realized during her lifetime, she would be proud to see the home in its present state. Today, the Barsdall Arts Park offers a modern civic art gallery, theater, and art studios, and a stunning example of the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo taken during a tour of Los Angeles Modernism for the French Institute of Architectts (Champagne Region) arranged by myself and Architect Gustavo Gubel, October 11, 2008.

In 1963, the Hollyhock House was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark by the Cultural Affairs Commission (No. 12). The Barnsdall Art Park is located at 4804 Hollywood Boulevard. Hourly tours are available Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 12:30 p.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m.