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Trust includes Ennis-Brown home

June 03, 2005|Christopher Reynolds | Times Staff Writer

Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis-Brown House in Los Feliz, renowned for its style and concrete-block construction but crippled by unsteady earth and wayward water, landed Thursday on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual "most endangered places" list.

The list, which trust officials said was distilled from "hundreds" of nominations, highlights 11 endangered historic places nationwide.

The home, one of four "textile block" houses in Southern California, was built in 1924 on Glendower Avenue in the Los Feliz area. Its first owners were Charles and Mabel Ennis. The structure, devised to pay homage to Mayan designs, relies upon interlocking concrete blocks, stacked "dry" without mortar joints.

It can be seen in the 1975 film version of "The Day of the Locust" and 1982's "Blade Runner," in which it served as Harrison Ford's apartment.

The house has been owned since 1992 by the Trust for Preservation of Cultural Heritage, which was established by a past owner. In nominating the property for "endangered" listing, the trust was joined by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, a Chicago-based organization dedicated to the preservation of Wright buildings worldwide.

First red-tagged, then yellow-tagged after last winter's rains, the home bears substantial scars from the 1994 earthquake as well. It's now closed to public visits, which had been one of its owners' principal sources of income.

"If work does not begin immediately, the chauffeur's quarters will be irrevocably lost," national trust officials said in their announcement.

Anthea Hartig, western regional director for the National Trust, said stabilization and restoration of the property would probably cost $15 million to $20 million. Franklin De Groot, executive director of the trust that owns the house, said his organization's resources now amount to less than $5 million.

Working with the Los Angeles Conservancy, the group plans a news conference today at the home with actress and preservationist Diane Keaton.

Other sites on the national trust's new most-endangered list include the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Fla.; Camp Security in York County, Pa.; Daniel Webster Farm in Franklin, N.H.; Eleutherian College in Madison, Ind.; Finca Vigia, a former Ernest Hemingway home in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba; the historic buildings of downtown Detroit; the historical Catholic churches of greater Boston; King Island, a historic Inupiat settlement in Alaska; the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of public properties overseen by the federal Bureau of Land Management; and "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground" corridor, which includes hundreds of historic sites in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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