It’s another sad day for fans of historic architecture and Old Hollywood lore alike. As first reported by the New York Post, the house located at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in L.A.’s Brentwood neighborhood, a 1920s Spanish hacienda-style structure, may soon be demolished by its new owner.
Despite its modest scale and unpretentious nature, the 2,600-square-foot bungalow gained worldwide fame in 1962 as the location of Marilyn Monroe’s sudden death. The walled and gated property was also the only house ever owned by the legendary actress, and in the six decades since the half-acre estate has become one of the city’s most famous local landmarks. Blogger Lindsay Blake previously published an in-depth post filled with numerous fascinating tidbits about the property, including how Monroe placed a plaque above the front door which read “Cursom Perificio” in Latin. Translation: “My Journey Ends Here.”
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While the home’s exterior architecture remains incredibly alike how it appeared in 1962, the interiors have been significantly altered. Most notably, the kitchen and bathrooms have been modernized, and the estate’s formerly detached guest casita has been merged into the main house. Still, numerous original features — casement windows, terracotta tile floors, wood-beamed ceilings — happily hark back to Golden Age times.
Out back, a brick patio spills out to a notably large swimming pool; beyond that, a grassy lawn is surrounded by mature trees, tall hedges and a citrus orchard. Out front, bountiful bunches of bougainvillea arch their way across the home’s façade, and there’s a two-car garage.
Teardowns have become increasingly commonplace in the area surrounding Monroe’s former home, as soaring property values and record-breaking sales entice developers to build ever bigger and fancier. That this particular property survived intact is a testament to the hacienda’s enduring charm, and to Monroe’s legendary status, of course.
Back in 2014, Emerald Lake hedge fund manager Dan Lukas and his wife Anne Jarmain paid $7.3 million for the Monroe estate, and have lived at the property in the years since. Six months ago, however, the couple paid $13 million for a larger home in the same neighborhood.
Last month, Lukas and Jarmain quietly sold the Monroe house to a buyer who has not yet been publicly identified. That person paid nearly $8.4 million for the property, in cash, and almost immediately applied for a demolition permit. The L.A. Department of Building and Safety recently approved the request for a “plan check” of the proposed work, though an official permit has not yet been issued.
But if similar situations in the recent past are any indicator of this property’s future, it seems likely that the Monroe hacienda will soon be added to a long list of historical real estate treasures that continue to be lost.
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