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Preserving Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Home: A Historic Victory

Preserving Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Home: A Historic Victory

In a unanimous decision, the Los Angeles City Council has taken a significant step toward preserving the Brentwood residence where Marilyn Monroe once lived and tragically passed away. Preserving Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Home, passionately championed by Councilwoman Traci Park, calls for the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission or the director of planning to assess the 2,900-square-foot Spanish colonial-style house’s eligibility for inclusion among Los Angeles’ cherished historic cultural monuments.

The Significance of Preservation

“This home must be preserved as a crucial piece of Hollywood’s and the city of Los Angeles’ history, culture, and legacy,” stated Park firmly. “It is a place where Marilyn Monroe lived and created some of her most iconic work, and it is a place where many fans come to pay their respects.”

Constructed in 1929, this iconic house became the property of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 when she purchased it for $75,000. Tragically, it was here that the beloved starlet succumbed to an overdose of barbiturates later that year.

A Temporary Reprieve

The current owners, the Glory of the Snow Trust, had sought permission to demolish the historic home and replace it with a new structure. However, the City Council’s motion has effectively halted their demolition plans for a minimum of 180 days.

The pivotal turning point in this preservation battle is set to take place on October 11 when the Cultural Heritage Commission will convene for a hearing. Their decision on whether to grant historic monument status will determine the fate of this landmark.

Celebrating a Victory

News of the Brentwood residence’s salvation from impending demolition has been met with jubilation among fans and preservationists alike.

Amy Kohn, the executive director of the Hollywood Heritage organization, expressed her relief, saying, “This is a victory for Marilyn Monroe fans and for all Angelenos who cherish our city’s history. This home is a significant part of our cultural heritage, and we are grateful that it will be preserved for future generations.”

A Positive Step Forward

While the temporary stay of demolition represents a significant victory, it’s important to note that the final verdict regarding the home’s historic monument status rests with the Cultural Heritage Commission. Nevertheless, the City Council’s resounding vote is undeniably a positive stride in safeguarding this invaluable piece of Hollywood history.

Marilyn Monroe’s admirers and Brentwood locals find themselves in mourning over the looming destruction of the iconic star’s last abode. However, an unexpected twist has caused confusion, with online backlash directed at a Monroe look-alike, rather than the actual homeowner.

The Spanish Colonial gem, a relic of old Hollywood, is slated for demolition by its current owner, who acquired the 2,900-square-foot hacienda for a substantial $8.35 million. While official permits had not yet been granted, as of Tuesday, the initial steps toward demolition were already underway, according to the L.A. Department of Building and Safety.

This historic residence, dating back to 1929, held a special place in Monroe’s heart as the only home she owned independently. She purchased the property in the early 1960s, following her third marriage’s end, to playwright Arthur Miller, for a mere $75,000. Nestled behind gates at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, the single-story dwelling boasts four bedrooms and three bathrooms. In 2017, when the property changed hands, The Times described its common areas, featuring a formal living room adorned with a Mexican-tile-lined fireplace, a cozy family room, and a functional office. The interior also showcased Saltillo tile floors and lofty vaulted wood-beamed ceilings.

Outside, the estate offered lush lawns surrounding a brick patio and a kidney-shaped swimming pool. The half-acre grounds were adorned with mature trees, a guest house, and a small citrus grove. An eerie inscription on the front porch in Latin, “Cursum Perficio,” meaning “My journey ends here,” served as a haunting reminder after Monroe’s tragic demise in her bedroom in 1962, at the age of 36, due to an apparent barbiturate overdose.

When the New York Post initially reported the potential demolition of the former “Some Like It Hot” star’s home, fans were understandably outraged. They sought answers from the property owner, expressing sentiments like, “How dare you?” and pleading, “Please don’t demolish Marilyn’s home.” However, there was a case of mistaken identity. Comments were wrongly directed at a Monroe look-alike and influencer residing in the Runyon Canyon mansion, where Monroe and her second husband, New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio, once lived in 1953.

Jasmine Chiswell made an appearance on “The Tamron Hall Show” in 2021, sharing her experience of passing by the Brentwood residence to catch a glimpse of Monroe’s former home, only to spot demolition signs years ago. Despite any previous unreported attempts to demolish the house, Chiswell and her husband, music producer Maverick McNeilly, were deeply affected. They decided to research other homes associated with Monroe and stumbled upon the Runyon Canyon mansion, which was up for sale and hosting an open house the following day. Chiswell expressed her fondness for the property, calling it a dream come true.

On Chiswell’s Instagram page, irate comments inundated her posts. One comment read, “Unfollowing. How dare you take [Marilyn Monroe’s] whole persona and house to make money and then tear down the one thing she ever owned.” However, it’s essential to clarify that the demolition plans were unrelated to Chiswell, who was merely an unintended target of misplaced anger.

Anne Jarmain, the owner of Marilyn Monroe’s former Brentwood residence, has remained silent, declining to comment on the situation. In July, the property shifted from Glory of the Snow LLC to Glory of the Snow Trust, purchased for a substantial sum of $8.35 million. Andrew Sahure serves as the trustee for the Glory of the Snow Trust.

The motivation behind Sahure’s decision to demolish the iconic property remains shrouded in mystery. Speculation arises: Could it be the influx of tourists? The house continues to draw crowds of visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the place where Monroe took her final breath. Hollywood tours frequently guide groups down the cul-de-sac for a chance to snap pictures. Or perhaps, there are more enigmatic reasons at play? Jasmine Chiswell, residing in Monroe’s former Runyon Canyon home, shared her experiences on “The Tamron Hall Show,” where she and her husband claimed to hear footsteps every night. She admitted to her skepticism, stating, “I don’t want to sound like a crazy person. I’ve always been a big skeptic about that stuff. But ever since we moved into this house, things definitely changed for me. Things started to feel really weird, and unexplainable things have happened here.”

Rodney Liber, a former movie producer and member of the Brentwood Homeowners Association for eight years, expressed his concern upon hearing that Monroe’s home had entered the initial stages of demolition. Liber hoped that someone would step forward as a “white knight” to save the historic residence. He lamented, “It’s sort of sad because it’s one of the most famous houses in the world.” Liber also acknowledged the community’s perspective, emphasizing their belief in property rights. He stated, “I do know that people tend to believe here that you should be able to do what you want with your house. I mean, obviously this is a very, very special circumstance, if not the most special circumstance, and the Brentwood Homeowners Assn. tries to sort of keep people within the rules. We will handle neighbor complaints about somebody who’s circumventing the law cutting down trees, building more than they’re allowed to, things like that … but when you have what’s called the by-right permit, and you’re building exactly what you’re allowed to without seeking any exemption … then there’s not much to argue about.”

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of City Planning revealed that the property had not been nominated for landmark status in the past. However, a 2013 evaluation acknowledged its potential significance due to its association with Marilyn Monroe. The evaluation indicated that “more research needed” and highlighted the Brentwood home as the “final home of screen actress Marilyn Monroe.” Monroe had purchased the house in March 1962, the only property she ever owned, naming it ‘Cursum Perficio.’ Tragically, she passed away in this location in August of the same year. The property’s limited visibility from the public right-of-way had hindered a conclusive evaluation.

In the months leading up to her untimely death, Monroe had invited Life magazine into her Brentwood home. During the visit, she walked through the rooms, enthusiastically pointing out where she planned to place furniture that had yet to arrive. She famously remarked, “Anybody who likes my house, I am sure I will get along with.” At the time of her passing, the house remained filled with unpacked moving boxes, a poignant reminder of her brief ownership of the only home she ever called her own.

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