After an incredible publicity blitz and well over a year on the market, Frank Lloyd Wright’s world-renowned Ennis House — tucked into the foothills of Los Feliz, near L.A.’s hipster-approved Eastside — has sold for $18 million to an as-yet-unidentified buyer. That number, while significantly below the $23 million ask, ranks it as the priciest Wright-designed home ever sold, easily eclipsing the previous high-water mark set by the Storer House in nearby Hollywood Hills, which was purchased in 2013 for $6.8 million by billionaire medical device heir and hardcore architecture aficionado Jon Stryker.
Of course, the Ennis House is less of a home than a giant work of art that just happens to include bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen. Designed by the elder Wright and built by his son in 1924 for wealthy retailer Charles Ennis and his wife Mabel, the monolithic masterpiece was hewn almost entirely from 27,000 perforated and patterned decomposed granite blocks. And thanks to its proximity to Hollywood, the idiosyncratic property has long been a magnet for filmmakers, who have featured the house in countless TV commercials, shows and big-budget films — most notably in 1982’s “Blade Runner” epic.
Shortly after enduring extensive structural damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the landmarked estate slipped into a sorry state of neglect that continued until 2011, when it was purchased for $4.5 million by supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle, who spent years and undoubtedly a significant amount of money refurbishing the property, in addition to a $6.4 million FEMA grant and construction loan issued to fund structural stabilizations and an overall restoration.
Perched high above the L.A. basin, on a .83 acre lot with jetliner-like city views, the main house and detached guest quarters collectively weigh in with somewhere north of 6,000 square feet of living space. Between the two distinctly separate structures lies a gated motorcourt that can easily accommodate a half-dozen automobiles — from there, a short pathway leads to the squat front door.
Within the cinematic Mayan Revival structure is an extraordinarily long hallway with a mausoleum-worthy marble floor linking the various rooms into one cohesive building. The interiors feature the same concrete blocks as the exterior, and there are lustrous hardwood floors and leaded glass windows throughout. Formal spaces include a living room with a mosaic-tiled fireplace, a vaguely ecclesiastical dining room with a dramatic city view, and a wondrously vintage kitchen with black and white tiles — perfectly restored to functionality, of course.
There’s also a games/media room with a wet bar, plus a swimming pool and lengthy koi pond on the north side of the property. The home’s southern exposures offer a plethora of terraces, balconies and private courtyards, all of them with sweeping L.A. city vistas.
And like many Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces, this property is hardly an everyday, generically-constructed mansion — the fiendishly expensive maintenance alone could easily drive an “ordinary” multimillionaire to financial insolvency. But how many people get to say they own one of the country’s most iconic homes? Few other than the $18 million new owner, likely.