The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Beneath the surface of the Black Dahlia house

The Sowden House was built in the early 20th century and has been used for events and filming. It has become a beacon for Hollywood gossip. Photo credit: Priscilla Diaz

Tucked away behind palm trees on Normandie Ave, in Los Angeles stands a beautiful, sinister house.

A note lies on the entrance steps with the words “my kids are kidnapped.”

Occasionally used for corporate events, film, photo shoots and private events, the house has become a landmark of its own. Mimicking the great white shark’s mouth from the movie “Jaws,” this iconic house is not what it seems to be.

Built in 1926 by Frank Lloyd Wright for his photographer and personal friend John Sowden, the house rings a bell for the classic glamour lifestyle that Hollywood has become known for.

The open plane mansion built around a pool gives off a sense of paradise and seclusion. The house features three bedrooms, six bathrooms and various amenities including a full-home theater that can comfortably hold up to six people.

However, despite the great history behind it, lies a sinister secret that would shake the “architectural masterpiece overlooking the best of L.A. shopping, dining and nightlife” upside down.

In 2004, former resident of the house and former LAPD Officer Steve Hodel accused his father, George Hodel, of murder. The novel the “Black Dahlia Avenger” told the world the unthinkable – that his father killed Elizabeth Short, also known as The Black Dahlia, in that house.

“There is supposedly a secret passageway in that house that he [George Hodel] did his dirty work in,” said Dearly Departed Tours founder Scott Michael’s, who previously shot a Girls Next Door episode in the house. “They make it sound like this huge room that was hidden and it really was not.”

The mansion, which has a beautifully sinister look, was initially seen as a Hollywood landscape prior to Hodel’s claims. However, once his book was brought to light so were the secrets hidden behind closed doors.

Orgies, incest, abortions and a possible pregnancy turned Hodel’s life upside down. The physician, who opened LA’s first free clinic, held the secrets of Hollywood’s elite. Accused of raping his daughter until she was 14-years-old, the popular doctor had secrets of his own to conceal.

There was also the case of Short. While she has become recognized as the girl in the gruesome pictures that have circulated the web, Short was a beautiful girl. Standing at a mere 5’5″, with light blue eyes and brown hair she grabbed the attention of many suitors, possibly including Hodel himself.

“They say he use to hold orgies in that house, and that might have been one of the reasons he killed her,” said Michael’s. “Because Elizabeth Short was murdered so brutally and her internal organs were missing they say quite possibly she was pregnant by him or maybe one of his rich friends.”

Although Hodel was a suspect at the time, he was later acquitted and moved to the Philippines.

Michael’s does not belive Short was actually killed in the house.

“This is a claim nobody knows if she was actually killed in that house,” said Michael. “Nobody knows where she was killed, nobody knows who killed her.”

While the mystery of the infamous unsolved case of Short tends to still be a trending topic among many.

This house is no short of secrets, yet is beautifully built such that many put aside the urban legends seeing the mansion for what it was originally intended to be – an artists masterpiece.

The house is located at 5121 Franklin Ave., Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California.


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