Marilyn Monroe’s Former Home Designated a Historic Monument, Saving It From Demolition

Los Angeles — Marilyn Monroe fans have achieved a victory in their efforts to preserve her legacy in Los Angeles, and they are closer to seeing a towering statue of the Hollywood icon remain in Palm Springs.

The Los Angeles home where Monroe briefly lived and died has been declared a historic cultural monument, while a Palm Springs planning commission decision has strengthened the likelihood that a 26-foot (8-meter) statue called  will stay in place.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the historic designation on Wednesday, following a protracted debate over whether the house in the affluent Brentwood neighborhood should be demolished. 

The current owners, who live next door, had sought to tear down the house to expand their property. However, the council unanimously voted to save it.

“There’s no other person or place in the city of Los Angeles as iconic as Marilyn Monroe and her Brentwood home,” Traci Park, the area’s council representative, remarked before the vote.

Monroe purchased the house for $75,000 and passed away there just months later on Aug. 4, 1962, from an apparent overdose. The current owners, Brinah Milstein and Roy Bank, bought the house for $8.35 million and secured a demolition permit, but faced opposition.

They argue that the house has been significantly altered over the years and is no longer historically significant, and that it has become a nuisance to the neighborhood due to tourist traffic.

The process leading to the designation was “biased, unconstitutional and rigged,” Peter C. Sheridan, an attorney for Milstein and Bank, stated in a statement to The Associated Press.

Sheridan asserted that Park and her staff did not respond to the owners’ efforts to reach a solution and disregarded opposition from civic and homeowners’ groups.

The attorney also claimed that the city had “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.”

In Palm Springs, the “Forever Marilyn” statute portrays Monroe in the famous billowing dress scene from “The Seven Year Itch.” It has been relocated across the U.S. and other locations, including a previous stay in Palm Springs, and is now back. A hotel industry group that owns the statue wants it to remain permanently, but some residents oppose it.

A technical decision about the statue’s location by the planning commission on Wednesday represented a step toward keeping it in place.  The matter will be considered further by the Palm Springs City Council in the future.