LA declares Marilyn Monroe home a landmark, saving it from the bulldozer

City names the Brentwood hacienda a city cultural monument after fierce battle with owners

The city of Los Angeles has weighed in favor of saving the small Spanish-Colonial house where Marilyn Monroe met her fate more than six decades ago in Brentwood.

The City Council voted 12-0 to designate the last home of the star of “Some Like It Hot” at 12305 5th Helena Drive a historic cultural monument after a bitter battle with its owners, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times reported.

“We have an opportunity to do something today that should’ve been done 60 years ago,” Councilwoman Traci Park told the council before the vote. “There’s no other person or place in the city of Los Angeles as iconic as Marilyn Monroe and her Brentwood home.”

Park, who represents the area, said she aims to introduce a motion to look at limiting tour buses through Brentwood after neighbors complained of unwanted traffic.

She’s also suggested moving the home, now tucked behind a painted wall, where the public could more easily access it.  

“To lose this piece of history, the only home that Monroe ever owned, 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,” Park said.

The four-bedroom house joins a list of 1,300 landmarks that L.A. has deemed significant to its history and culture, of which 444 are private homes, according to the city.

Park had introduced a motion in September to preserve the Spanish-Colonial home when its owners sought to bulldoze it to expand their house next door.

Last month, real estate heiress Brinah Milstein Bank and her husband, reality TV producer Roy Bank, sued the city for their alleged right to demolish it. On June 4, a judge denied their attempt.

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The Banks bought the first and last home owned by the Hollywood siren in July for $8.35 million. They had bought the house next door, a 6,000-square-foot dwelling at 12306 6th Helena Drive, in 2016 for $8.2 million.

But their plans to raze the 2,900-square-foot Monroe home to expand their property created an international outcry — and an order by the city to temporarily stave off the wrecking ball.

Days after reports surfaced that the century-old home faced demolition, the City Council in September rushed through a motion to consider designating the property a historic cultural monument, a move that puts up barriers to its demolition.

In January, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission approved the application to designate the home as a historic cultural monument. The council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee shortly followed suit.

In a written statement to TRD  last month, Milstein and Bank’s attorney Peter Sheridan alleged the city had “engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional conspiracy” involving government officials and tour operators and violated the law “with regards to the quasi-judicial process required for evaluation of alleged historic cultural monuments.”

L.A. Superior Court Judge James Chalfant 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.”

Monroe bought the one-story, four-bedroom hacienda in early 1962 for $77,500 — or roughly $790,000 in 2023 dollars — after her divorce from playwright Arthur Miller. She was wrapping up her last film, “Something’s Got to Give.”

Less than six months later, the 36-year-old actress was found dead from a drug overdose in her bedroom.

The house’s front step tiles read “Cursum Perficio” — Latin for “my journey ends here.”

— Dana Bartholomew

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