Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger Have People Furious After Destroying Historic Home

Zimmerman House was 74 years old when it was demolished.

Chris Pratt and wife Katherine Schwarzenegger are facing scrutiny after news broke last week that they quietly acquired the 74-year-old Zimmerman House from Southern California modernist architect Craig Ellwood, then razed it in order to build a 15,000-square-foot residence in the style, reports Dwell.

According to the Robb Report, the couple paid $12.5 million for the midcentury home in Brentwood, which marked one of Ellwood's earliest projects. In addition, they demolished all of Garrett Eckbo's original landscaping, effectively reducing the nearly one-acre lot into one flat piece of land.

Pratt already has his fair share of critics online, but news of the demolition has infuriated people even more. X user @PastaVersaucy wrote, "Special place in hell for people who do this, go buy a readily made McMansion instead you dumb bitch!!!," later posting: "Tearing this down, for what?? Floor to ceiling black and white marble with no soul?"

Midcentury Modern subreddit members agreed, posting comments such as, "Yet more proof that money can't buy good taste," and "I know its[sic] just material but sincerely, burn in the deepest pits of hell bro," responding to a TikTok from Quinn Garvey (@vintageonq) that begins, "Chris Pratt, you're a weirdo for this one," and currently has 38,800 likes.

Garvey's video, taken inside the Zimmerman House during the estate sale in 2022, shows many of the house's original fixtures and structures, which were still in good condition if not in great shape compared to Julius Shulman's 1953 photos of the property. 

When Garvey heard the news, she was "surprised," even though this wasn't her "first rodeo" regarding estate sales in demolished properties. "I remember going through it, and it was such a pleasant experience," she told Dwell. "I thought it was in great condition. I've been to estate sales in houses that were a little dilapidated or you can see the water damages or the hinges of the cabinets are falling off, but that house had such a different feel to it. I never thought it was gonna go. It's just like, Really? You had to do that?"

Preservationists are also upset about the demolition. Nonprofit Save Iconic Architecture described the demolition as "devastating" on Instagram, while another commenter compared it to "buying a Rothko for the wall."

Interior designer Jaime Rummerfield, the co-founder of the advocacy group for architectural preservation, told Dwell she can empathize with the internet's outrage, comparing it to "an endangered animal that just got poached again" and said it's "neglectful" that Ken Ungar, the architect commissioned to build the couple's new modern farmhouse-style home, didn't even try to incorporate the existing structure into the design. "Shame on them for not wanting to keep something so special," she added.

It is understood that people are angry because, realistically, the couple did not need to demolish the house. According to reports, Schwarzenegger's mother, Maria Shriver, lives across the street, prompting questions about whether other properties on the block were available. 

Although the home's 2,770 square feet are modest by today's standards, realtors like Take Sunset's Rob Kallick told Dwell that if it had been on the market, it would have garnered a lot of interest, even at its steep price. 

Though he acknowledges that there is a limited market for a $12.5 million architecturally significant residence, "there are many wealthy people who deeply understand how valuable that house could be to preserve and restore, even if it's kind of small-ish, relatively speaking." 

Among the comments complaining about the demolition, some asked why the house wasn't protected and on a list of historic buildings. Rummerfield said she believed that the city of Los Angeles has been incredibly lax about this type of designation over the years, transferring the burden onto residents and architectural fans. 

In addition, the city government doesn't have a preservation head, so appeals or requests for historic designations can sit for many years before even being addressed by the planning committee or the Office of Historic Resources, resulting in the homes or buildings falling apart or disappearing in the meantime.

"We need a chief of preservation who really connects the dots between things like Survey LA and what's actually going on at each address," Rummerfield said. "Even if you're just talking about the top three percent of notable buildings that should be saved, or saying making blanket designations, like 'all Paul R. Williams' or 'all Craig Ellwood,' L.A. needs to stop passing the buck on preservation."