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18 Jul 2009


The House on Haunted Hill is For Sale

The house that was used for the filiming of the original House on Haunted Hill is up for grabs at a mere $15 million.  It was also used in Blade Runner.

Good luck.

By Martha Groves

12:40 AM PDT, June 19, 2009

Lloyd Wright's Ennis House, a Los Feliz hilltop masterpiece composed of
patterned and smooth concrete blocks that has been mightily threatened
by man and Mother Nature, is being offered for sale at $15 million by
the private foundation that has been restoring it.

Eric Lloyd Wright, the architect's grandson and a member of the
nonprofit Ennis House Foundation's board, said that, given harsh
economic realities, private ownership would be the best way to save the
house and honor his grandfather's intentions.

"My grandfather designed homes to be occupied by people," he said in a
statement to The Times. "His homes are works of art. He created the
space, but the space becomes a creative force and uplifts when it is
lived in every day."


Completed in 1924 for Charles and Mabel Ennis, the owners of a men's
clothing store who liked to entertain, the house was the last and
largest of four homes that Wright designed in an experimental "textile
block" style.

Mabel Ennis sold the house in 1936, and it has changed hands several
times since. Radio personality John Nesbitt, who owned the property
from 1940 to 1942, had Wright convert a ground-floor storage space into
a billiards room with a fireplace, add a lap pool on the north terrace
and install a heating system.

The house suffered over the years from neglect. In June 1968, Augustus
O. Brown, the last private owner, bought the estate for $119,000 and
made extensive repairs. In 1980, he donated the property to a nonprofit
trust he established to ensure that the house would be maintained. That
group became the Ennis House Foundation.

The foundation began its restoration in 2005 after the estate, heavily
damaged by rain and the 1994 Northridge earthquake, was placed on "most
endangered" lists by both the National Trust for Historic Preservation
and the World Monuments Fund.

Torrential rains had caused the retaining wall to buckle in March 2005,
sending several patterned blocks tumbling down the hill. City
inspectors briefly red-tagged the estate, spread on half an acre along
a ridge with breathtaking views in the Hollywood Hills.

The Maya-inspired estate, which is listed on the National Register of
Historic Places, has been featured in films including "House on Haunted
Hill," "Grand Canyon" and the futuristic "Blade Runner."

Jointly offering the house are Hilton & Hyland and Dilbeck Realtors
in Los Angeles, with international marketing provided by Christie's
Great Estates in Santa Fe, N.M.

A new owner would face a projected bill of $5 million to $7 million to
return the house to its former grandeur, atop $6.5 million the
foundation has already invested to stabilize the property and begin

The listing came about after much soul-searching by the foundation's
board, said James DeMeo, president. In 2008, a consulting firm,
Cultural + Planning Group of Los Angeles, determined that, given the
difficulty of raising funds, the best path was to put the property up
for private sale.

"Our hope was it would go to an owner with the passion, the vision and
the resources to continue the restoration and to preserve this
property," DeMeo said.

Inspired by the ruins of Uxmal, Mexico, the striking 6,000-square-foot
estate consists of a main house and a smaller chauffeur's quarters,
separated by a paved motor court. Wright's notion was to craft an
organic structure that literally seemed to rise from the site. Workers
extracted decomposed granite from the property to use in many of the
27,000 blocks.

The blocks featured 24 design variations, knitted together with steel
rods. Some were patterned on both sides, others on one; some were half
or quarter blocks, and a number were inset with glass. The variations
posed challenges for restorers. Another problem was that past owners
had attempted to protect the structure by coating many of the
16-by-16-inch blocks with sealants, which weakened the steel and

The house has a low, shadowed foyer, contrasting with the burst of light and space at the top of the marble stairs.

An elevated dining room with a fireplace is the most spacious area.
Extending to the east are a study and the living room, which contains a
glass-tile mosaic fireplace, the last remaining intact example of three
that Wright created. A long, window-lined loggia frames the pool and
connects the public areas to the private rooms -- the master bedroom, a
guest room and an upper terrace. The kitchen and a third bedroom occupy
a separate wing.

DeMeo said one condition of the sale will be a conservation easement,
to be held by the Los Angeles Conservancy. The intention is to ensure
"there would be at least some limited public access--maybe one or
several days a year," DeMeo said.

Ultimately, the goal is to fulfill Wright's prophecy, as laid out in a
1924 letter to the Ennises. "You see, the final result is going to
stand on that hill a hundred years or more. Long after we are all gone,
it will be pointed out as the Ennis house and pilgrimages will be made
to it by lovers of the beautiful from everywhere."


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