Marilyn Monroe fans mourned this week as a home in Valley Village where Monroe lived in 1944-45 was razed just before a city commission was to decide whether to make the home a historical landmark.
According to Ken Bernstein, director of the city’s Office of Historic Preservation, Monroe lived in at least 30 residences in the L.A. area; Los Angeles officials had recommended rejecting the home being designated a historic-cultural monument, as Monroe’s stay there as 17-year-old Norma Jean Dougherty came before she became a star.
Jennifer Getz, who nominated the Dougherty House for designation as a city Historic-Cultural Monument, told the Daily News, “I can’t even breathe. My neighbors and I are in mourning. It’s one of the biggest losses in the San Fernando Valley. I’m beyond outrage.”
Los Angeles historian Charles J. Fisher, who wrote the Dougherty House nomination, protested that the developer, Joe Salem of Hermitage Enterprises LLC in Chatsworth, violated a law that requires a 30-day public notice if buildings older than 45 years will be razed.
The razing of the home at 5258 Hermitage Ave. started Monday; the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission would have considered the historical-status designation on Thursday. Curbed LA reported that Salem wants to build condominiums where the house was. Redfin reported that the three-bedroom townhomes would each run roughly $1 million.
Monroe was married in 1944 to Jim Dougherty; while he was away at sea, she lived in the Hermitage house with her in-laws as she inspected parachutes and sprayed fire-retardant on parts for airplanes. While her husband was gone, a photographer sent by U.S. Army Capt. Ronald Reagan selected her as a model for morale-boosting military magazines. She left the Hermitage house in summer 1945, divorced Dougherty, and headed for stardom.