Sowden House

John Sowden House, also known as the “Jaws House”, is a residence built in 1926 in Los Feliz. The house is created out of ornamented concrete blocks and has quite a striking facade, basically looking like open-mouthed “Jaws” or a Mayan temple.

Sowden House

The original owner, John Sowden, was a painter and photographer who hired Frank Lloyd Wright’s oldest son, and dear friend, Lloyd Wright, to build their home in Los Feliz. The home is a landmark residence now in the Los Angeles area for its imposing Mayan-style front facade and temple-like features. From the street, the home has the appearance of a Mayan fortress or temple.



The Los Angeles Times has also described it as a “quasi-Mayan-style mansion, an otherworldly apparition that looms over Franklin Avenue in Los Feliz.” When you arrive at the house, you first pass through sculpted copper gates and then up a set of narrow, almost tomb like stairs. Sowden, being a part of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, wanted to show off his luxuries in the proper LA style and so he could entertain his friends in the film community.

Now for the interesting history: in the 1940’s, Dr. George Hodel bought and lived in the home. He was not only a Los Angeles physician, but was also a prime suspect in the infamous Black Dahlia murder. Even though he was never actually publicly named, his own son called him out as being the murder. Steve Hodel, a retired LA homicide detective, claimed in his 2003 book “Black Dahlia Avenger” that the Black Dahlia victim, Elizabeth Short, was actually tortured, murdered and dissected by his father inside of the Sowden House, in January 1947.



Dr.George Hodel Jr went on the radar of the police in October of 1949, because his 14-year-old daughter, Tamar, accused him of molesting her. Three witnesses testified at his trial that they were present in the room and saw him having sex with his daughter. Hodel was acquitted of the charges in December 1949. The molestation case led the LAPD to include Hodel among its many suspects in the Dahlia case. Police put Hodel under surveillance from February 18 to March 27, 1950, including the installation of two microphones in his home, to establish whether he could be mixed up in the murder. In the surviving transcripts, Dr. Hodel was overheard making highly incriminating statements.

“Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary anymore because she’s dead…. They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her. Maybe I did kill my secretary….” – George Hodel. February 18, 1950
Wouldn’t you like to have that guy as a son? Or dad..whichever way you look at it

So not only was the creepy monster there, but the house has also been used in several film and TV spots, like being Ava Gardner’s house in The Aviator.


Location: 5121 Franklin Avenue, LA, CA


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