Viewing the Remains
of Bradbury’s Home

Interior A RESIZEBy John King Tarpinian: They tore down paradise and put up a parking lot.

Last Friday I got a panic call from one of Ray Bradbury’s old family friends, an English professor, back East. He learned that Ray’s sunny yellow house was being razed. Once the security fence went up we knew. In Los Angeles a home that cost $1,765,000 is considered a tear down. Very quickly I received emails from others begging me for photos of the sad event. In only one day half of the house was gone.

One friend wanted a rose, a music professor, from Maggie’s (Ray’s wife’s) garden. Others wanted a piece of anything as a souvenir. I’ve had many requests for the street numbers over the garage. Of course, this is no longer Ray’s home but owned by an “investor.” So I need permission to take a pebble from the property, I’m going to get permission…wink.

As I was taking pictures locals were walking their dogs. They’d stop to observe and we’d converse. One lady had no idea who had owned the house; she was new to the neighborhood. She walked away in tears. Another long time neighbor knew it was Ray’s home and we mutually agreed things like this are just wrong but money wins out. Another young couple had no idea who Ray was…the saddest encounter of all.

Ed O’Neill’s character’s home in Modern Family is a few blocks away. It was a former quaint home that was a rebuild. That home was a tear down by the same person who bought Ray’s house. The house to the left of Ray’s is being remodeled for the second time in five years. The house across the street from that home is undergoing a complete facelift, adding a second story. The One-Percenters are doing just fine, thank you very much.

I met the contractor and learned that the house was not bought on spec with a profit-motive: the new owner is going to build a home for his family. If I understood the contractor correctly the house will go below ground three levels (with the bottom level being a pool, which is perfect for our chilly L.A. winters.) and it will go above ground two stories.

The people in La Jolla fought the tear down of Raymond Chandler’s house across from the ocean but in the end they lost. They tore down Rudolph Valentino’s home, Falcon Lair, just a few years ago, and I don’t think anybody knew about it until after it was gone. PickFair was torn down by Pia Zadora (thank you Golden Globes.)

Outside 7 RESIZE

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67 thoughts on “Viewing the Remains
of Bradbury’s Home

  1. That reminds me that, as of a while back, the location of the “Crooked House” up in the hills, from Heinlein’s short story, was still viewable on Google Earth/Satellite Maps. I wonder if that’s still the case, and what happened to Heinlein’s nearby home?

  2. John, thanks for sharing these very sad photos of Ray’s house being torn down. Though saddened by Ray’s death (of course), I knew it was coming and knew he would live on in his writings, thoughts, and in my memories. Ray’s writing changed my life and every time I met him he was amazingly gracious. For some reason, I thought the house Ray lived in would not be torn down. It is so sad to see that happen. I know a house is just a house, but it was Ray’s house, and his wife’s house, and the house of his four daughters. It was also the house where his ideas fermented into stories and poems, novels and essays.

  3. The owners were very nice and understanding. They cheerfully let me have the house number sign above the garage this past Saturday.

  4. Dear John, Thanks for taking these pictures as I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Leaving the Old Yellow House that last time was so emotionally traumatic I couldn’t even look back as I drove away. Actually being there seeing one piece of the house torn off let alone totally razed would’ve been unbearable. God Bless You John!

  5. Fate. The destructive forces of evil couldn’t do it. The soft, squishy engulfing forces of goodness couldn’t do it. But Time Marches On.
    And so it (and we, all of us) Goes.
    As individuals, we are amazing, spiritual, talented, inspirational, and sublime. As a species, we are little better than cockroaches. And they have been around a lot longer than we have.
    Fate is another name for entropy. Life in this universe is the one force that fights against entropy. Complexity and growth versus the breaking down and simplification of matter (and energy).
    There is another force, one that is based in Life, and that is as powerful as Entropy. It has many names; stupidity, apathy, selfishness, confusion, and placidity.
    Did I say it is as powerful as the heat death of the Universe? I was wrong. It is the agent of that force; it is the part of Life that is Death.
    Every time someone lights us up like Ray did, we move against that force. Every time we are left by someone like Ray, we move closer to the ultimate end game.
    Thank you Ray.

    And I wish you’d left that house to me. I could have gotten a better deal for it.

  6. Very sad to see this. An archetype like Bradbury deserves a shrine. Is it too late to get the rose bushes ?

  7. One of the best quotes about humans. Ever… “As individuals, we are amazing, spiritual, talented, inspirational, and sublime. As a species, we are little better than cockroaches”.
    I don’t know if you coined that quote, but aim definitely going to use it often.

    The house destruction in L A is a crime. We are destroying the very soul of what makes our city different from other cities. Look at Kings Row. Mindless condos and apartment buildings.

  8. This vandalism will not stand!
    These fools don’t realize that the true and
    financial value of these historic structures is
    enhanced by their history.
    Damn you Pia Zadora!

  9. That basement writing room was magic. I remember it so well from the 1960 documentary “Story of a Writer.” Can’t believe this wasn’t saved. Someone in the family made a bad decision.

  10. Just terrible. I cannot understand that people are allowed to destroy the house where so many great ideas were born, where an American icon lived, from where LOVE was wafted to people all over the world. Too sad, incomprehensible!

    Gerd from Germany

  11. Had the privilege of meeting mr. Bradbury about 20years. We sat and talked for about 2 hrs. Got my picture taken with him and a hug goodbye. A year later he was speaking at our library and I brought the picture with me..He remembered our conversation and then signed the picture. What a lovely man. Why can’t America honor it’s writer’s homes like other countries. So sad. In.what section of LA did he live?

  12. I had no idea this was happening. John, thank you for capturing this, tragic as it is. I loved that place.

  13. Ray was a cherished friend and hero for nearly forty years. I spent many happy times with Ray at his house. I was with his daughter, Alexandra, during the late Summer of 2013 as she packed away her dad’s belongings, preparing to ship them to the university housing the Ray Bradbury collection. This wanton desecration of what could and should have been preserved as a national shrine is sadly symbolic of the disdain for our cultural legacy and heritage proliferating
    America in an age of shallow selfishness, commercialism and indignity. So sad. So very, very sad. I’m so sorry for Ray’s family, his legacy…and for us.

  14. Another example of our distain for history. Those who care can’t do anything. Those who could do something don’t care.

  15. A great physical landmark of the creative spirit fades away. Yet Ray’s imagination and great works will live on. What a blessing to have experienced his eternal and infinite vision !!
    Jerry Pantzer

  16. This leaves me gutted. Having grown up two doors down, my memories as a kid are of cutting the corner at Ray’s house on my bike across the lawn, hoping that Maggie didn’t catch me; peeking into the garage windows to get a glimpse of the classic Jag surrounded by wall to wall books; and then later in childhood making the connection between who Ray was as a person to who he was as a writer and finally getting the whole picture. The Ray I knew first was the kind neighbor who always had time to say hi to a young kid and shoot the breeze about nothing in particular; it was typically brief due to my obligations as a neighborhood kid at various friend’s houses around that block. He played tennis seemingly every day he could and on his way to play is where I saw him almost exclusively, with the event marked by the presence of his driver and car at the curb on the sidewalk. If the timing was right (and it often was), that is where I would always talk to him – in front of his house, in tennis gear, always with a smile on his face – and that is exactly as I will always remember him.

  17. I grew up in Cheviot Hills, but that was a long time ago. This very sad story is a capsule of Los Angeles, and what we used to call in college, “LA values.”

  18. He signed “Golden Apples in the Sun” one sunny day at the USC book fair. Still one of my prized possessions. Sad day for our cultural history that’s true. But it’s too easy to blame the greedy one-percenters or the much ballyhooed cultural “vacuum” of LA.

    What about his family? Do they not bear some responsibility? The inheritance tax exemption in the year Bradbury died (2012) was $5.1 million. So they didn’t have to sell it just to pay inheritance tax. In fact the property was probably worth less than a million in 2012 so the exemption would have left them with more than $4 million tax free. Could they not have held onto it and rented it out?

  19. Houses are as perishable as their owners. In Ray’s case, his books are his legacy and the public library where he got his start. And now my autographed edition of Fahrenheit 451 is missing so I am not happy.

  20. While this is indeed very sad, I’m assuming the family chose to put the house on the market? Could they not have put it into a trust, or donated it to a society that would have made it into the Ray Bradbury house, complete with some of his things? I didn’t have all the information, so I apologize if I’ve missed something. The memories of the house make me want to cry.

  21. I met Ray years ago, at the WorldCon in Atlanta GA. I was a young woman, a scientist, who had just scored a prize in the dealers’ room: a four-foot-long grey plush stegosaurus. I had it under my arm, happily walking through the room with my husband, when here came Mr. Bradbury with his liaison (I assume). He looked up and saw us, cut off his companion practically in mid-word, and made a beeline for me and Steggie. He grinned and petted it and chatted with us, and had to know where I’d gotten it! It was brief but it was obvious he was delightful. This news makes me almost as sad as the day I heard we’d lost him.

  22. I live across the street from Ray’s house and was very sad to see the demolition start. A couple of corrections to the writer’s observations above, however: the house next door is not being remodeled, it merely is having some landscaping done in advance of, I am told, a family wedding to be held there. The house across the street was demolished more than a decade ago; the structure going up in its place has been sitting there, uncompleted, for the better part of that 10 years. Neither of these owners are what I would call “one-percenters” (presumably if the owner of the unfinished house was a one-percenter, he’d finish building his house instead of letting it sit there vacant and fenced).

  23. Mike,
    Thanks for sharing and drawing attention to this sad event. The house should have been saved, but Ray’s real legacy is his writing and it lives on (and will continue) to live in the memories of the tens of thousands who personally met the man and the millions whose lives his writing touched. “Live forever!”

  24. Ray’s daughter was my best friend in the 60’s. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula in that house. I played my Beatle’s album Revolver there for the first time. I remember Ray’s incredible basement and exploring all his cool art and memorabilia. I have many memories in that house and met lots of fascinating people there. I remember my last visit with him, where he gave me and my daughter signed copies of his new edition of the Martian Chronicles. Most of all, I remember a very sweet man who loved to laugh and was like a second dad to me. This is just freaking painful.

  25. Blame the family, not the city of Los Angeles or the people who live here. I do not believe that the family’s share of Bradbury’s yearly royalties is tiny. If they had wanted to make a shrine of his home, they could have done so—and they also could have solicited help from the public. I am tired of hearing about things like this happening, and having them blamed on the city of Los Angeles and its people. We were, to put it mildly, not consulted about this.

  26. My name is Donavan Freberg, I am the son of satirist Stan Freberg, Ray’s lifelong friend. I practically grew up in this magical house. Many a Halloween was spent here, with Ray and Maggie and the cats of course, not to mention many a trip to Ray’s magical basement. This is absolutely beyond the pale. I am shocked, saddened, stunned and angry, but not surprised. LA has very little sense of history and it is getting worse by the day thanks to greed and real estate wars. I hang my head to mourn this house, saddened to see it go, missing Ray and Maggie, but glad in a way that they aren’t alive to see it. I mourn for their daughters, who no doubt see this with tears in their eyes. Ray’s work lives on and that’s what matters, but damn, this really is awful.

  27. Never be afraid to dumpster dive in the name of history. Put your knee pads on. Put on some boots. Come back in the dead of night if necessary. The spirit of Bradbury will guide you and you’ll come away with something for the world…not just yourself. Neighbors/police be damned. They’ll get over it! ~ Most you’ll get is a tongue lashing or warning…especially once the story is imparted.

  28. long after the new owners are gone – and long after the house has been remodled many times – Ray Bradbury’s monument of work will still be read and enjoyed by humans – hopefully on other planets.

  29. Really sad… I was hoping to take my son there someday to see where his namesake lived and the site of where he created his beautiful stories all of us have enjoyed… He has meant a lot to me through my life and I believed he should be celebrated… Waukegan, Illinois is raising money for a bronze statue of him… LA would do well to add one as well!

  30. LA did designate the corner of 5th and Flower as Ray Bradbury Square, right at the beloved LA Central Library.

  31. Reading this post gave me such a sinking feeling, I can’t even describe it.
    I believe that the space a writer creates in is sacred and contains an energy, a vibe, a feeling— it can be felt in everyplace from Robert Frost’s Stone House in VT to Hemingway’s place in Key West.

    His work influenced me more than any TV show or film.

    If John or whoever is local can grab a yellow brick or yellow ANYTHING I would greatly appreciate it.
    Please contact me. Seriously.

  32. I’m pretty sure there’s only one John King Tarpinian in Los Angeles, so it must be you. I was an Atari ST owner for many years and I remember you from those crazy days of the mid- to late-80’s! Wow, it’s been a while! 🙂
    So crazy to stumble across you after all these years, just because a friend on Facebook linked to the LA Times article about Bradbury’s house being demolished, which references your own article here.
    I hope you’re doing well.

  33. I share the feelings expressed by Donovan, Brian, and all the rest of you who are saddened by the loss of the Bradbury home and his enchanting basement office. But as he observed in his 1948 O. Henry Prize story “Powerhouse,” there was always a great element of continuity in the Bradbury universe: “for every light that was put out, another could come on.” Thanks to the gift of Ray’s papers, office library and furniture, and a lifetime of his awards and mementos, the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies here at Indiana University will be re-creating his basement office in the near future. We are gathering support for this endeavor, and I hope that within a year or so anyone will be able to visit these treasures once again.
    Jon Eller, Chancellor’s Professor and Director of the Bradbury Center, Indiana University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).

  34. Wow, this seems so sad. I fully appreciate that he will live on in his writings, but tactile remembrances also mean a great deal. To stand in a place where such a great artist lived provides something that extends beyond the literature.

  35. Of course I endorse Jon Eller’s suggestion and it is wonderful to know that so much of Ray’s world will be preserved – and open to everyone to visit. BUT the house itself was also special and deserved to have lived a little longer. Good luck to the bounty hunters – if I weren’t 2000 miles away, I’d be out there ransacking the site!! ––– Just a thought, Jon, you couldn’t buy some bricks from the present owners and sell them to admirers to raise money for the C4RBS, could you??

  36. Excellent suggestion, Brian (and by the way it’s good to be in touch with you again, although the circumstances are sombre). Dismantlement of the bricked structures (primarily the two fireplaces) are part of the last stage of demo, but we have some back-channel coordination going on as we speak. I have high hopes. I’m glad to know that the new owner is taking care to preserve some of the internal woodwork materials; they will be re-purposed, from what I understand, for a a good cause.

  37. Well if you can get some bricks (for another good cause) I’m sure you’d get some takers willing and able to contribute to the Centre for the price of a brick. Not as an alternative to subscribing anyway, but as an additional incentive… You can certainly put me down for one… Good luck! 🙂

  38. As a preservationist and architectural historian, its sad to see a wonderful house go. But this could have been prevented by a trust, or just not selling the darn place! I would think that selling it was up to the family and they could have even asked what was going to be done with it. It went through a bidding war so they had choices obviously on who to sell to. If you feel like laying blame or being angry….It also appals the hell out of me that people are on the one hand horrified and in the next breath talking about “ransacking” the place for their own little piece of history! The property now legally belongs to the new owners and you could be arrested for trespassing. It would be nice if the owner offered up some things, maybe for charity purposes or something. But I have a feeling that tomorrow we’d see those, or the “ransacked” items up on Craigslist or Ebay selling to the highest bidder! Yes, sad to see such a sweet house, owned by someone we all loved go to the wrecking ball, but put those energies in the right direction if you want to be upset. The owner should be left alone and so should what is now legally HIS property.

  39. Your observations are right on. Property rights need to be observed. Proper channels have been followed, and if bricks are not available through those proper channels, then that’s fine too. We were more interested in acquiring a brick for the Center to place in the reconstructed office.

  40. I grew up just down the street from the Bradbury house. We lived on Bradbury Rd. (no relation) and spent a bit of time with one of Ray’s daughters. My folks have passed on but I still own the house I grew up in since ’58. We all have a choice to hang on to our homes that our parents have left us or sell it. Ray’s family chose to sell it. Not the City of L.A. or any other entity makes this decision. Either the heirs needed the money or just plain wanted the money. If someone wants to cast blame, just point at the family and nobody else.

  41. I would love to have a little something from the house… maybe a brick? This is truly a shame.

  42. His house may be gone, but I don’t think Ray would have been incredibly sad. He was a man of vision and possibilities. He was not a person to regret the past but to live in the future and dream of tomorrows. He was a mentor to me and his writings and talks were always a gift. My memories of him live on. Ray would have been much sadder if you were to forget his ideas, his dreams, his hopes, his sense of humor. Don’t let the physical presence of a house be a memorial to his death, but instead let the fact that Ray lived at a time when his stories were loved, accepted, and celebrated around the world act as our light guiding us into an unknown future.

  43. Very sad news indeed! I had the special privilege and pleasure of visiting Ray at his home twice in 2007 and 2008. On one of those occasions I presented him a large photograph that us on the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Team signed for him. I also managed to name a cluster of rocks near the Spirit Rover ‘Martian Chronicles’.

    If possible I would very much like to acquire some bricks or other memento from his home.

  44. “The crash. The attic smashing into kitchen and parlor. The parlor into cellar, cellar into sub-cellar. Deep freeze, armchair, film tapes, circuits, beds, and all like skeletons thrown in a cluttered mound deep under.
    Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke.
    Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the wall, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam:

    “Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is…”

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