7 interesting facts about The Sowden House, an architectural gem with a grim backstory and ties to the Black Dahlia case

The Mayan Revival-style fortress is one of the most unique homes in all of Los Angeles and has a long, storied history

that might even hold the key to the notoriously unsolved “Black Dahlia” murder case.

Here are some curious facts about the striking Sowden House in Los Feliz, one of Los Angeles' most unique homes. 

It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son

The Sowden House owes its unique design to Lloyd Wright, the son of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


He used massive concrete blocks 

Carrying on the legacy of his father, who worked with molded concrete tiles and blocks to create structurally innovative buildings, Lloyd Wright used concrete textile blocks to erect the Sowden House.


The design was inspired by ancient Mayan temples

The technique, just like in the case of his father’s best works, created a unique structure that’s reminiscent of ancient Mayan temples.


Built for a friend

Lloyd Wright built the unique house for his personal friend John Sowden, a painter and photographer who wanted a showplace where he could entertain his friends in the Hollywood film community.


It was later home to a controversial doctor

Fifteen years after Lloyd Wright’s friend, John Sowden, parted ways with his unique Los Feliz abode, the Sowden House was purchased by Dr. George Hodel.


A controversial figure (his own 14-year-old daughter once accused him of assault), Hodel was known to throw sex parties in his Hollywood abode, giving way to many rumors surrounding his wild lifestyle.

It's now known as "the Black Dahlia house"

The Sowden House became intertwined with the Black Dahlia case due to rumors that George Hodel may have been involved in the murder of Elizabeth Short.


These claims were made by Hodel’s own son, Steve Hodel, who was a retired Los Angeles Police Department detective. He pointed to various pieces of circumstantial evidence, including alleged connections between George Hodel and Elizabeth Short.

The Sowden House appeared in many Hollywood movies

Grim history aside, its unique design made it a perfect filming location for productions like L.A. Confidential (1997), The Aviator (2004), and Brave New World (1998). 


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Photos credit: Wikimedia Commons