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The Battle to Save Marilyn Monroe’s Last Home


HOLLYWOOD LEGEND - Sixty years after her tragic death, the legacy of Marilyn Monroe still captivates the world. While her life was marked by glamour and fame, it was her final sanctuary in Brentwood, Los Angeles, that became a symbol of her enduring appeal. Now, this Spanish colonial-style house, known as "Cursum Perficio," faces the threat of demolition. But determined lawmakers and passionate activists are fighting to preserve this historic landmark, ensuring that it remains a testament to the iconic actress's life and legacy.

Marilyn Monroe's Enigmatic Brentwood Abode:

In 1962, Marilyn Monroe found solace in the quiet neighborhood of Brentwood. Her four-bedroom Spanish colonial-style home, nestled away from the bustling streets, offered her seclusion and tranquility. The property featured a kidney-shaped pool and towering palm trees, providing an idyllic backdrop to her life. Aptly named "Cursum Perficio," which loosely translates to "I end the journey" in Latin, the house became a significant part of her life story.

Just six months after moving in, Marilyn Monroe's life tragically ended due to a drug overdose in her bedroom. She was only 36 years old. Despite her brief time there, the Brentwood home has become a sacred place for fans worldwide. Even after six decades, admirers continue to leave flowers at its front gate, a testament to the enduring allure of the Hollywood legend.

The Fight to Preserve History:

The fate of Marilyn Monroe's last home hung in the balance when the Los Angeles City Council intervened. In a unanimous decision, they initiated a process to designate the house as a historic and cultural monument, effectively saving it from demolition. This move came just in the nick of time, as the city's building department had recently approved a demolition permit, including plans to fill in the existing pool.

Councilwoman Traci Park, representing Brentwood, took action after learning about the impending demolition from an article in The New York Post. She emphasized the deep connection people have with Marilyn Monroe, making her home and legacy deserving of protection.

Mystery Surrounding Ownership:

The sale of the property in July to Glory of Snow Trust for $8.35 million raised eyebrows, as neither the sellers nor the buyers commented on their intentions for the house. This secrecy fueled speculation about the new owner's plans. Carolyn Jordan, Chair of the Brentwood Community Council, expressed astonishment at the possibility of demolishing such an iconic structure, especially considering the prior owners' reverence for its history.

A Symbol of Marilyn's Legacy:

While the house at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive remains hidden from the public eye, tourists often visit to pay their respects and capture a glimpse of history. Despite the house's potential historical significance, it wasn't formally designated as such until now. The impending historic designation doesn't guarantee the house's preservation, but it grants a 180-day delay to develop a plan for its protection.

The house is located in the Helenas, a set of secluded cul-de-sacs known for their serenity. Preservationists and advocates hope to explore options beyond demolition, such as relocating the house to a movie lot, to preserve its essence for future generations.

Swift Action for Preservation:

Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, who work to preserve Los Angeles landmarks, were amazed at the rapid response to save Marilyn Monroe's former residence. They believe that an official landmark designation will ensure a more respectful and appropriate treatment for the historic house.

An application for historic designation will be submitted to the city’s Office of Historic Resources in October, followed by a site visit and a hearing by the Cultural Heritage Commission in November. The City Council will then have 90 days to make a final decision on its fate.

Marilyn Monroe's Brentwood home, where she lived her final months, stands as a symbol of Hollywood's golden era. The fight to save this historic landmark from demolition reflects the enduring fascination with Marilyn Monroe's life and legacy. The battle continues, with dedicated advocates striving to ensure that "Cursum Perficio" remains a cherished piece of history for generations to come.

(James Frederick is a contributor to CityWatch.)