Wright Workout: Stairs to Ennis House

Guest blogger Ken Fuller authored this post about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House and provided the photos. Ken is a freelance writer.  His website can be found at www.kenfuller12.com

Ennis House can be spotted in the Hollywood Hills from a great distance. It is a stop and stare piece of architecture. Even a “what the hell is that” object. On a grander scale than the houses around it and, more distinctly, being of the Mayan Temple Revival architecture with the Textile blocks, it looks like the royal palace of an ancient civilization.

Ennis House

OP Ennis House 6

Curbside, Ennis House seems to shrink from its grandeur, able to sit somewhat demurely at the end of the street with the help of foliage and a different perspective. A peak through the gate at the courtyard does bring a return to the spectacular: a view over the city of Los Angeles that reaches all the way to the Pacific ocean.

Ennis House 3

OP Ennis House 4

Walking past the front of the house, the street curves and descends so that the rear of the house towers above, brass flashing glimmers in the sun and the house takes on more of a fortress setting as you are seeing the house from the bottom of a steep hill. At the front of the house you are able to walk up to the entrance, around back the house seems unreachable.

Ennis House 7

OP Ennis House 2

Driving the curving streets into the Hollywood Hills above Los Feliz will bring you to Ennis House, however it can be reached through a vigorous climb up the Berendo Stairs. Constructed in 1924, the same year as Ennis House, the stairs climb straight up into the Hollywood Hills.

Berendo staircase

There are three sets of stairs in total. The first, located at the end of N. Berendo Street at Cromwell Avenue, takes you up to Bonvue Avenue—there are stone benches about half way up for a rest. At Bonvue Avenue take a right up the curving street. The second set of stairs will be to the left at the intersection of Bonvue and Glendower Avenue. This second set will deliver you to Bryn Mawr Road, though take in the tile mural just before you reach the top. Directly across the street is the third set of stairs that will take you further up Glendower Avenue.

OP Berendo staircase 1

Pause at the bottom landing of this third staircase to get the distant view of Ennis House looming in the hills as well as much of the city of Los Angeles. At the top of the third staircase, follow Glendower Avenue to the right where Ennis House sits on a curve in the avenue. You can follow Glendower Avenue around Ennis House and continue descending the avenue, bypassing the second and third stairways.

  Berendo staircase mural

Once down from the hills, nearby Vermont Avenue and Hillhurst Avenue offer many opportunities for refreshment in the Los Feliz neighborhood. Ennis House is privately owned. Part of the condition of sale is that this landmark building be open to the public for twelve days a year though as far as I can tell it is not yet open to the public. Structural instability from the initial construction as well as disabling contributions from an earthquake and flooding have resulted in the need for rehabilitation. In my visits I’ve always seen crews working on the house. Never, though, have I seen anyone lounging in the courtyard taking in the glorious view and the modern civilization that lies below.


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