Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The O'Neill House

The O'Neill House - an Art Nouveau fantasy
If you've ever been to Barcelona, Spain, you will recognize the distinctive architecture of Antoni Gaudi, the genius who designed several of the city's most treasured and visited sites.

One of these, sometimes called the Barcelona Cathedral, but actually a basilica named La Sagrada Familia Basilica, is quite famous.

La Sagrada Familia Basilica
This basilica was begun in 1882, but Gaudi never finished it.  In fact, back when I saw it, it did not even have as many towers as it has today.  The Basilica is still in the process of being built and isn't slated to be completed until 2026!

Antoni Gaudi
Gaudi was a deeply religious man, and his Roman Catholic faith intensified as he grew older.  He is nicknamed "God's Architect" for this reason.  Between 1984 and 2005, seven of Gaudi's works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

I really enjoy his rather odd, but beautifully distinctive style.  The Casa Batilo in Barcelona (pictured below), was one of Gaudi's designs.

Casa Batilo in Barcelona
Gaudi's work still enjoys global popularity and evokes admiration today, as evidenced by this Beverly Hills home we recently visited on our tour of Beverly Hills.  Located at 507 N. Rodeo Drive, it's called the O'Neill House.

This home was built back in the 1980s by an art dealer named Don O'Neill, who specialized in Art Nouveau.  ONeill loved Antoni Gaudi's work, so he and his wife decided to renovate their house into an Art Nouveau style as an homage to the renowned architect.

All the rooms of this home reflect the organic shapes of nature and are either round or oval.  You can see it more clearly from above:

A Google Earth view of the house
Mr. O'Neill only lived long enough to see the guest house completed.  It was his wife who eventually completed the home, mainly to keep her husband's dream alive after his death.

The house is a magnificent example of the surreal Art Nouveau style of Gaudi, and of Don O'Neill, who loved this art form.

The rear door, off the alleyway
We drove down North Rodeo Drive recently and took these shots of the place.  You can turn into the alleyway and see the back wall fairly easily.

The details are just fantastic.

From what I understand, Mrs. O'Neill still lives in this amazing structure.

Mosaic birds fly just under the roof line of the home, while statues guard the vents
It is said the guest house alone took five years to finish.  With the curvy lines and small details, the project is also said to have driven the small army of workers, who fashioned the wood, concrete and tile work, totally nuts!

Tiffany style stained glass decorates the windows
This beautiful structure is unique, even for Beverly Hills.  

Seeing this house makes me happy.  It's like hobbits should live there.

I have to applaud people who dream crazy dreams and have the perseverance to bring them to fruition for the delight of all the rest of us. Thanks, Don and Sandy O'Neill.  It was a pleasure just to view the exterior of your home.

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