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.)

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

  1. Thank you for the pictures. It is very sad in a way but I’m glad you were able to capture something of the house before its gone. I once prowled the back streets of Great Neck NY to find the former house of another favorite author of mine, P. G. Wodehouse and the looks I got for being there were a little off putting!

  2. Sad times indeed. Places like this should gave a plaque ir marker and be untouchable What’s next rip down the Christmas Story or Ferris Buellers house or the White House even … hey why not someone might want to throw up and yuppie monstrosity.

  3. I met Ray in 1972 at a Syncon event, where we were on the same panel. We kept in touch over the years, and always seemed to meet up at the same bus stops as he never drove and I had given it up for a few years.

    Why wasn’t the home turned into a museum? This really is a travesty culturally speaking.

    Thanks for posting this. Sad, sad, sad.

  4. Here in Britain it would probably have been considered for a blue plaque, and possibly turned into a museum…

  5. Thanks so much for this story. Heartbreaking. It should have become a historical landmark. One of the greatest American writers of all time. All that history. Gone.

  6. Alex Shepard at Melville House interviewed architect Thom Mayne about his plans for the old Bradbury property.

    Mayne also intends to pay direct tribute to Bradbury. Mayne told me that he intends to put up a wall at the edge of the property that will be etched with the titles of Bradbury’s books—an act Mayne poetically describes as a “signature.” The home itself—which Mayne consistently described as a “garden” rather than a “house”—will not be visible from the street, but the wall will—in fact, it will be the only thing visible from the street. Ironically, Mayne’s home will do more to announce Bradbury’s connection to the lot than the house itself did. But of course, Bradbury didn’t have to announce his relationship to a house he had lived for fifty years.

    The response the demolition has received came as a “shock” to Mayne, in large part because the decision was seemingly endorsed by the Bradbury family and the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies. “Maybe I’m naive,” he told me. “But it’s really been a bummer.”

  7. Thanks, Mike, for posting the link to Alex Shepard’s interview with Thom Mayne. I have ask him to clarify one point: the Bradbury family has made no comment on the demolition and rebuild of the former Bradbury home in Cheviot Hills. I had briefed the family prior to my NPR statement of support for Thom Mayne’s plans, but the family is not involved in this discussion at all. The Bradbury Center is an institutional entity, and does not speak for the Bradbury family.

  8. It is truly sIt is truly sad that this has come about. I wonder how I might go about getting one of the bricks from his home as a momento.

  9. Mayne should not be permitted to use Bradbury’s story titles to Glorify his gross error.
    A Brass plaque should be installed explain the truth
    The Beasts of the field Crows and the Ravens everyone is upset. The Magic gone, it’s curses to the property.
    Andrew c.

  10. On the one hand it is a pity lost the house, but on the other hand he is nothing without a host . House alive until it is life

    Always loved science fiction Bradbury and Shackley . They will be with us in our hearts always.)

  11. As sad as it is to see a grand old house go, it’s important to remember that it is, in the end, only a house. The TRULY important part is what came OUT of that structure – the end product of a BRILLIANT mind, conceived and executed by a genius such as Ray Bradbury.
    There are those who will weep and bemoan that house going the way of the dodo; personally, having seen these few pictures, and with some knowledge of SoCal architecture in all of it’s glory(?), I will not miss the building – but I WILL miss it’s connection with the man who inhabited it.

  12. The house of book magic is gone and that is a crime. Perhaps the new house will be roamed by the ghosts from Ray’s stories. I wouldn’t want to live there.

  13. It should be noted that Ray Bradbury’s former home was not irresponsibly demolished . Rather, the new homeowners opted to have the house “de-constructed” – a conscientious green demolition process where all re-usable materials are carefully removed and donated for reuse. This included the cabinetry, doors, lights, plumbing fixtures, even the vintage vent registers and the old-growth framing lumber.

    The entire process was overseen by The ReUse People of America – a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to diverting building materials from over-burdened landfill sites. After being removed, the salvaged materials went to The ReUse People Warehouse in Los Feliz where the public has the opportunity to acquire well preserved building materials at very reasonable costs.

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