From any room one could step into a central courtyard full of exotic foliage and beautiful giant cactus plants reaching straight into the sky. Once inside this remarkable house one found oneself in absolute privacy, invisible to the outside world. —Steve Hodel
It has been a source of mystery and chatter since its construction in 1926. The enigmatic Sowden House is an anomaly on otherwise charming and SoCal-bright Franklin Avenue in Los Feliz. Designed by Lloyd Wright, the Mayan Revival style house has been called "cultic," "brooding," "a gothic pile out of 'Vathek," like "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and the "Jaws house." In recent years it has gained a new, much darker notoriety—as the alleged murderous lair of the Black Dahlia's killer.
This story is essentially a story of fathers and sons. In the late 1910s, the young architect Lloyd Wright came to Los Angeles at the request of his father, the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. Over the next few years, the younger Wright worked with his father on many commissions, including Los Feliz's famous Hollyhock House. In 1924, the elder Wright left LA, telling his son, "I'm fed up here. You're young enough to take Los Angeles." And take Los Angeles Lloyd did. Determined to emerge from his father's shadow, Lloyd Wright would go on to a distinguished career, designing avant-garde orchestral shells for the Hollywood Bowl, and creating spectacular buildings like Wayfarer's Chapel in Palos Verdes, the Samuel-Novarro House in Los Feliz, and the Otto Bollman House in the Hollywood Hills.