Los Feliz’s famous (and infamous) Sowden House is on the market, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Architect Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, built the incredible Mayan Revival Sowden House in 1927 for artist John Sowden and his wife Ruth. The house was intended to be a place for the Sowdens to entertain.
Wright gave the couple this incredible showpiece overlooking Franklin Avenue, constructed of concrete “textile blocks,” which feature elaborate designs and patterns. The pointy, triangular formations of the blocks near the entrance to the house recall a shark with an open mouth.
The four-bedroom house, described in the listing copy as “completely renovated,” centers on an internal courtyard with a pool and spa. The concrete blacks are used throughout the house, from a fireplace to the interiors of the living room overlooking the courtyard. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and on city’s roster of Historic-Cultural Monuments, and is eligible for Mills Tax credits.
The house’s lore grew in connection with another owner, Dr. George Hodel, who purchased the house in 1945. Hodel was a creepy character who threw “hedonistic parties” in the house and regularly beat his sons in the basement.
In 2003, Hodel’s son Steve Hodel, then a retired LAPD detective, wrote a book arguing that his father was responsible for the unsolved 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short, also known as the Black Dahlia. He also claimed the murder happened at the Sowden House.
Hodel’s book also claimed that Dr. Hodel was responsible for a handful of other unsolved murders in Los Angeles in the 1940s, and that some of the murders occurred in the Sowden House’s basement.
The Sowden House last sold in 2011 for $3.85 million. It returned to market in 2013, asking $4.888 million. Now, it’s listed for $4.698 million.
- 5121 Franklin Avenue [Troy Gregory/Douglas Elliman]
- Lloyd Wright-designed Sowden Residence in Los Feliz listed for $4.7 million [LA Times]
- The Sordid and Possibly Murderous Secrets of Los Angeles's Sowden House [Curbed LA]