Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood House Declared a Landmark, Saving It From Demolition

Marilyn Monroe’s house in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood was approved in its historical cultural monument nomination by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, a designation which is intended to help protect the landmark from demolition.

“The Marilyn Monroe Residence in Brentwood is now a Historic-Cultural Monument! Today, L.A. City Council unanimously approved the nomination for Marilyn Monroe’s final home. Thanks to all who voiced their support and a HUGE thanks to Councilwoman Traci Park & team!,” wrote the L.A. Conservancy on X.

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Monroe lived for approximately six months in the 1929 four-bedroom Spanish Colonial-style house, then died of an apparent overdose there in 1962. The L.A. Conservancy wrote in its proposal for landmark status that the house was “the first place she sought out and bought for herself and on her own while actively working in 1962.”

BRENTWOOD, CA - JULY 26:  (MARILYN MONROE FEATURE) An aerial view of the house where actress Marilyn Monroe died is seen on July 26, 2002 in Brentwood, California.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of Monroe's death.  The actress, famous for such films as "The Seven Year Itch" and "Some Like It Hot," was found dead on August 5, 1962 in her Brentwood, California home of a drug overdose.  (Photo by Mel Bouzad/Getty Images)
An aerial view of the Brentwood house where Marilyn Monroe died.

Owners Brinah Milstein and her husband, reality TV producer Roy Bank, bought the house last year for $8.35 million and planned to demolish it to expand their property next door. They waged a year-long battle to stop the historical designation, which they said would lead to more nuisance visitors. The owners have sued the city, accusing officials of “backroom machinations,” and the case is due to get a trial date on Aug. 13. In the suit, the owners say that the house has been substantially altered and that there is no evidence remaining from the time when Monroe lived there, so they contend it does not meet the criteria for a historic cultural monument. The suit also says that several neighborhood groups and the Monroe estate did not support the historic designation.

The council’s vote was 12 to 0 in favor of adding the house to properties of historical significance. The decision was backed by the City Council’s land use management subcommittee and the Cultural Heritage Commission. While the designation doesn’t completely stop a property from being demolished, the status subjects it to a stringent review process if demolition were proposed.

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

In response to the vote, Milstein’s attorney Peter C. Sheridan, who also represents the owner’s Glory of the Snow 1031 Trust and Roy Bank, released the following statement.

Council Member Traci Park, in bringing a motion to designate the former home of Marilyn Monroe as a Historic Cultural Monument, said she has “worked closely” with the owners “throughout this process” to relocate this house to allow for public access. This is not true. Neither she nor her staff have worked closely with the owners, throughout this process or anytime else, to relocate the house to allow for public access.  

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.  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. 

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.

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