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Los Angeles Designates Former Home of Marilyn Monroe as Landmark

Los Angeles Designates Former Home of Marilyn Monroe as Landmark

An aerial view of Marilyn Monroe's final home in the Brentwood neighborhood in Brentwood, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

City News Service
City News Service

6/27/2024

Updated: 6/27/2024

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LOS ANGELES—The former home of Marilyn Monroe is officially a Los Angeles historic cultural monument June 27, as city officials confirmed the designation after previously delaying the vote to address concerns from the property owners and neighborhood residents.
In a 12–0 vote, council members approved a motion—introduced by Councilwoman Traci Park, who represents the 11th District, which includes Monroe’s former home at 12305 West Fifth Helena Drive—to preserve the home following an attempt by the property owners to demolish it last year.
Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Eunisses Hernandez, and Kevin de León were absent during the vote.
“We have an opportunity to do something today that should have been done 60 years ago,” Ms. Park said prior to the vote. “There is no other person or place in the city of Los Angeles as iconic as Marilyn Monroe and her Brentwood home.”
The actress died on Aug. 4, 1962, at the age of 36 as a result of an overdose inside her home. Monroe had been one of the most popular Hollywood stars during the 1950s and early 1960s.
“Some of the most world-famous images ever taken of her were in that home, on those grounds and near her pool. Marilyn tragically died there—forever ties her in time and place to this very home,” Ms. Park said. “There is likely no woman in history or culture who captures the imagination of the public the way Marilyn Monroe did. Even all these years later, her story still resonates and inspires many of us today.”
In September 2023, in response to concerns from residents, fans and historic preservationists, Ms. Park moved to save the home by designating it as a historic cultural monument. The councilwoman said it would be a “devastating blow” for historic preservation and for a city where less than 3 percent of historic designations are associated with women’s heritage.
Residents in proximity to the Brentwood home have expressed concerns about privacy and safety with the designation. Ms. Park noted that she has balanced those concerns as the designation moved through the Historic Cultural Commission and the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
In a move to further that effort, Ms. Park introduced a motion during Wednesday’s council meeting to evaluate tour bus restrictions on West Fifth Helena Drive and surrounding streets.
“My team and I will continue working closely with the community to address any future concerns that arise,” Ms. Park said. “I also understand that access is an important component of preservation, which is why throughout this process, my team and I have worked closely with the property owners to assess potentially moving the home to a place where the public might actually be able to visit and spend time.”
Those conversations have yet to be held, but the councilwoman expressed her hope that it can be done in the future.
Peter Sheridan, an attorney for Brinah Milstein, Glory of the Snow 1031 Trust, and Roy Bank, owners of the Brentwood Home, issued a response to the council’s action. The attorney refuted Ms. Park’s claims that she “worked closely” with the owners “throughout the process.”
“In fact, the opposite is true. The owners have made countless attempts to work with Ms. Park and her staff to find a solution that would work for everyone, only to be met with non-responsiveness by Ms. Park and her staff,” Mr. Sheridan said in a statement.
“Ms. Park has ignored the fact that her constituents—civic and homeowner’s groups in the community—are adamantly against the designation of the home. Ms. Park has also ignored that the City granted dozens of permits to over 14 different prior owners to change the home through numerous remodels, resulting in there being nothing left reflecting Ms. Monroe’s brief time there 60 years ago.”
An aerial view of Marilyn Monroe's final home in the Brentwood neighborhood in Brentwood, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

An aerial view of Marilyn Monroe's final home in the Brentwood neighborhood in Brentwood, Calif., on Sept. 14, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mr. Sheridan added, “The designation today was yet another step in an admittedly biased, unconstitutional and rigged process, as set forth in the owners’ lawsuit. Traci Park’s actions today and throughout the process, disregarding the interests of her constituents and the facts and merits, demonstrate that no one’s home or investment is safe.”
Council members were set to consider Ms. Park’s motion on June 12. However, Ms. Park requested the item be extended until Wednesday to continue discussions with the property owners, who had challenged the designation, suing the city for an injunctive relief. On June 4, a judge tentatively denied their attempt.
Attorneys for the property owners, previously filed court papers with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant in which they said the city was violating the law by trying to give the home historical recognition. The pair bought the residence last July for $8.35 million and had obtained a demolition permit from the city—which was later revoked.
According to the Milstein-Bank court papers, the couple will suffer irreparable harm without a preliminary injunction. The petition sought a court order blocking the monument designation and allowing the plaintiffs to move forward with their planned razing so they could demolish the structure to expand their current home, which is adjacent to the property.
The judge issued a tentative ruling in favor of the city, calling the Milstein-Bank motion an “ill-disguised motion to win so that they can demolish the home and eliminate the historic cultural monument issue.”
The couple would not suffer the irreparable harm they claimed by being denied a preliminary injunction because the City Council would address the issue, according to Judge Chalfant.
Mr. Bank and Ms. Milstein filed the petition May 6, alleging “illegal and unconstitutional conduct” by the city “with respect to the house where Marilyn Monroe occasionally lived for a mere six months before she tragically committed suicide 61 years ago.”
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