F. L. Wright Textile-Block House Changes Hands
By Magazine Editors | From Preservation | November/December 2011
Two years ago, Frank Lloyd Wright's fabled Ennis House was offered for sale by the Ennis House Foundation. In July, the foundation announced that business executive Ron Burkle had purchased the house for just under $4.5 million.
Restoration Initiated: 2005
Conservancy Efforts Completed: Early 2009
Cost to Date: Nearly $6.5 million
Funders: FEMA, J. Paul Getty Trust
Historical Consultant: Historic Resources Group
"Placing the Ennis House on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2005 spurred direct and sustained action," says Anthea Hartig, former director of the National Trust's Western Office, who joined the foundation board that year and continues to serve. "A private owner with Mr. Burkle's track record is all we ever could have hoped for."
Built in 1924 for Charles and Mabel Ennis, the 6,200-square-foot house and chauffeur's quarters were constructed out of more than 27,000 handmade concrete blocks. Earthquakes and record rainfalls took their toll on the structures, designed for a hillside site overlooking Los Angeles. Since 2005, restorers have repaired or replaced nearly 3,000 of the blocks. Teams have also restored interior details.
Linda Dishman, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, says the new owner has an impressive history of stewardship: Burkle has owned Greenacres, a 1920s estate built for silent film star Harold Lloyd, since 1993.
An easement secured by the conservancy covers the entire site—including interior and exterior features—protecting the structure in perpetuity. Per the terms of the easement, Burkle has agreed to provide public access to the house at least 12 times a year.
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