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How To Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in LA

July 5, 2024
Ennis House deck with view of los angeles

Every big city with a history of art has its share of famous residences just like the Ennis House, but I doubt any modern city can boast the sprawling celebrity homes that Los Angeles offers. 

Since the invention of motion pictures, the glamorous movie stars have had to live somewhere, and their homes have been pointed out by tour guides for decades. But some of these houses aren’t famous because of the celebrity who lives there — some homes are celebrities all by themselves. 

Case in point is this century-old member of the National Register of Historic Places: the Ennis House. As a local guide here in LA, I’ve visited the Ennis House many times. There’s a lot to discover about its history, architecture, TV appearances, and more. If you’re curious about the Ennis House, how to visit, and why it’s so important, keep reading!

The Ennis House in movies and TV 

If you think you’ve never seen the Ennis House, think again. 

Have you ever seen “Blade Runner,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Karate Kid Part III,” or “Rush Hour”? If the answer is yes, then you’ve seen the Ennis House, or at least parts of it. 

If you’ve seen “The Rocketeer” and some episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” you’ve seen recreations of this unique home built on Hollywood sound stages. 

At 6,500 square feet, and built with a staggering 27,000 patterned granite blocks, one look at the Ennis House is enough to inspire visions of sci-fi adventure or vampires.

Before the mansion served as inspiration for a number of movie directors and set designers, however, it was originally designed by none other than world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ennis House history, construction, and renovation

The Ennis House’s history is as complicated as some of its fantasy residents.

In 1923, Charles and Mabel Ennis commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design their home. Construction began in 1924. This was around the same time that Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre were built in Hollywood. 

The hilltop home wasn’t far into construction before problems became noticeable with some of the granite blocks buckling in key places. With construction being overseen by Wright’s son Lloyd, the unhappy Ennis couple fired the Wrights and took over supervising completion of the home. When actor John Nesbitt purchased the home in 1940, he re-hired Frank Lloyd Wright to add a pool and a billiard room to the residence. 

Much later, more construction would be needed, this time in the form of restoration. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and a very rainy winter of late 2004 and early 2005, the Ennis House was deemed unstable, requiring a $6.4 million restoration. 

After the restoration was complete, the Ennis House Foundation sold the mansion to Ron Burkle for $4.5 million, far below the original asking price of $15 million. Burkle flipped the Ennis House for a significant profit, selling it in 2019 for a cool $18 million. 

The amazing architecture of the Ennis House

Ennis House entry gate

The Ennis House is undoubtedly unlike any other building you’ll ever see. It was built in a style known as Mayan Revival architecture, and it was designed to look like a Mayan temple, although I’ve always thought it looks more like a fortress. 

On the north side is the main driveway, blocked by a rather ornate steel gate. Thin windows are framed by granite blocks, many of which are patterned with what looks like a stylized version of the letter “g.” (Charles Ennis belonged to an order of Masons whose symbol included this letter, so the pattern may have been Wright’s architectural tip of the cap to Mr. Ennis.) 

As you follow the road down and around the Ennis House, you come to the south side where you get to really appreciate the magnitude of the home. From this vantage point, you’ll be standing just below the retaining wall and looking up at the entirety of the mansion, with the large dining room windows towering above you.

The interior is just as grand with lofty ceilings in the living and dining rooms, windows with panoramic views of LA, and the carved stone blocks clearly visible on many of the walls and columns. A loggia runs the length of the building outside, and a swimming pool, added by later owners, completes the picture of affluence.

How to visit inside the Ennis House

Today, the Ennis House is an expensive private residence. However, the home can still be viewed 12 days out of the year, thanks to a stipulation created by the Ennis House Foundation that was binding for all future owners. 

If you want to tour inside the Ennis House, you’ll need to email the foundation directly at [email protected]

See the Ennis House on a guided tour

Tour group in front of Ennis House

We also visit the Ennis House on our guided tour of Griffith Park. After stopping at the Greek Theatre, a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, we head up the trail and detour into the neighborhood just outside of the park.

It is here that we will stop at the Ennis House to admire its hilltop location and design. Your guide will tell you about the house, and you can take photos of this beautiful LA landmark.

Architecture buffs have more to enjoy as we continue through a neighborhood of eclectic homes of differing architectural styles. One of these homes is the infamous Los Feliz Murder Mansion, a favorite of true crime lovers and ghost story enthusiasts. Then it’s back to the trails and up to the Griffith Observatory and an incredible view of the Hollywood sign. Along the way, you’ll also enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the City of Angels.  

Where to find the Ennis House

Whether you end up visiting the Ennis House to go inside or just view the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright architecture from outside, it’s pretty easy to find. Here’s the address: 2607 Glendower Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

It is possible to drive directly to the Ennis House, but keep in mind the roads are narrow and windy and the neighborhood, and you’ll want to be mindful of local parking restrictions. A good alternative is to park in Griffith Park near Franklin Cafe and hike up to the neighborhoods. That’s exactly what we do on our Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park Hike, and your guide will lead the way. 

Things to do near the Ennis House

The Ennis House is located just steps from LA’s 4,000 acre Griffith Park

In the park, you’ll find The Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory, the latter of which provides some of the best views of the Hollywood sign anywhere in the city. 

You can see all of these sights, including the Ennis House, on our Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park Hike.

Or if you prefer an in-depth visit to Griffith Observatory, including a tour designed by veteran observatory employees, you can do that by booking our Griffith Park Observatory Guided Tour

Where to eat near the Ennis House

Where to eat near the Ennis House

When you’re done with all of this sightseeing, chances are you may find yourself quite hungry and perhaps a little thirsty, too. If so, you’re in luck. Just south of Griffith Park is LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood, a hip area flanked by Hollywood and Silverlake. 

All you need to do is follow Vermont Ave, the road that leads up to Griffith Observatory, down the hill about a mile, and you will find a strip of restaurants and bars suitable to any palate. If you want a diner, a French bistro, Italian food, Indian food, or plain old bar food, it’s all there.

And if you want to continue to experience some Hollywood history, you’ll want to stop in at the Dresden Room. Opened in 1954, the Dresden Room has been a place to spot celebrities, from Frank Sinatra to Julia Roberts, for decades. It has a fancy dining room or a more casual (and cheaper) bar with live music on a nightly basis. 

Visiting the Ennis House and LA

Whether you’re a fan of movies, Hollywood history, architecture, or all of the above, adding the Ennis House to your Los Angeles itinerary is a must. With its prime location in the Hollywood hills, this unique home is easy to find and impossible to miss. 

Looking for more to do in the area? We’ve got tips for things to do to feel like a local in Hollywood and other Los Angeles tours.