Marilyn’s ‘Dougherty House’ Blitz Spurs Lawsuit

The former Dougherty home at Hermitage Avenue, before demolition
The former Dougherty home at Hermitage Avenue, before demolition

After the news that Marilyn’s former home with the Doughertys at Hermitage Avenue was demolished in June, local residents have filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, reports the L.A. Times.

The empty lot at the interesection of Hermitage Avenue and Weddington Street
The empty lot at the interesection of Hermitage Avenue and Weddington Street

“Los Angeles is facing a lawsuit over the demolition of a San Fernando Valley house that Marilyn Monroe once lived in, filed by residents who argue that the city trampled state and local laws when the City Council gave the green light for new condos to be built there.

But the court battle goes beyond the legacy of the blond bombshell. The suit accuses the City Council of illegally agreeing to routinely back any development project supported by the council member who represents a given area, including the condo project that led to razing the Valley Village home.

The council voted unanimously last month to allow developer Joe Salem to move ahead with plans for a five-unit condominium building on the site of the demolished home. Save Valley Village is seeking to reverse city approval of the project, revoke its permits and stop it from getting any more approvals.

The house at the heart of the latest dispute was torn down days before a Cultural Heritage Commission hearing on whether to consider making the silver screen star’s onetime home a historic monument. Monroe lived in the back unit at the Hermitage Avenue property with her in-laws while her first husband, Jim Dougherty, was serving overseas.

Building department officials said the demolition permit had been obtained before the historic monument application was filed. Even if the house had remained intact, city staffers did not recommend considering the house as a possible monument, arguing that Monroe didn’t break into the film industry until years later.

Monroe ‘only resided at the property for one year and did not live in the unit during the productive period of her career,’ a report by city planning officials said.

Save Valley Village counters that the home captured the essence of her life at a crucial stage. ‘While Norma Jean was born at County Hospital in Lincoln Heights, Marilyn Monroe’s career was born while living in this house,’ the lawsuit argues.

The group also contends that the city had ‘overwhelming evidence’ that it should have prepared an environmental impact report on the planned condos. That report would have considered possible alternatives to tearing down the Hermitage Avenue building, such as relocating it elsewhere, MacNaughton said.

The lawsuit also argues that Salem illegally demolished the home because the proper notices and inspections had not been done and that city officials knew it — or should have known.”

Leave a Reply