Chris Pratt, Katherine Schwarzenegger Spark Outrage Over Historic L.A Home Demolition

Controversial home demolition stirs debate among preservationists.

by Nouman Rasool
Chris Pratt, Katherine Schwarzenegger Spark Outrage Over Historic L.A Home Demolition
© Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger have ignited a wave of controversy after demolishing a historic house in Los Angeles, drawing sharp criticism from preservationists and social media users alike. The couple, who purchased the architecturally significant Zimmerman House in Brentwood for $12.5 million in January 2023, has been accused of undermining cultural heritage for personal luxury.

The Zimmerman House, a celebrated example of midcentury modern design by the renowned architect Craig Ellwood, was razed shortly after its purchase, making way for the couple's new residence. The decision to demolish the property, identified by the Los Angeles Conservancy as "potentially historic" yet unprotected, has sparked intense backlash across various platforms.

Social Media Outcry

Social media and forums dedicated to midcentury modern architecture, such as the subreddit r/midcenturymodern, have seen users labeling the demolition as "incredibly sad" and a stark demonstration that "money can't buy good taste." The vocal disapproval extends to professionals in the field.

Realtor Julie Chang expressed dismay on X (formerly Twitter), criticizing the City of LA for its oversight failures, while designer David Hill lamented the destruction of modernism icons by "insensitive McMansion seekers." Robb Report notes that the property's allure was partially due to its proximity to a home owned by Schwarzenegger’s mother, Maria Shriver.

However, this familial tie has done little to quell the outrage. Preservationists argue that the house represented an irreplaceable piece of architectural history, its demolition a loss to the community and culture at large.

Adding to the controversy, permit records reveal that the new construction on the site, designed by Los Angeles architect Ken Ungar, will feature a modern farmhouse-style mansion complete with a backyard swimming pool and cabana.

This shift from a midcentury marvel to a contemporary luxury home has only fueled the debate over the preservation of architectural heritage versus personal property rights. As the debate continues, the incident raises broader questions about cultural preservation, architectural heritage, and the responsibilities of celebrity homeowners in maintaining the integrity of their communities' historical landmarks.