Chris Pratt & Katherine Schwarzenegger razed a historic Craig Ellwood house

Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarenegger have done something unforgivable: they razed a historic Los Angeles home designed by Craig Ellwood and they’re planning to build a tacky faux-farmhouse in its place. I don’t get any part of why anyone would do this – there are so many historic and interesting mid-century homes in LA which are lovingly preserved – and even modernized, within reason – by wealthy Angelenos. Instead of taking the time to learn about the Zimmerman House, Pratt and Schwarzenegger just destroyed it to build another dumb McMansion in a farmhouse style.

It seems that L.A.’s thirst for massive modern farmhouses knows no bounds: last week, news broke that Chris Pratt and wife Katherine Schwarzenegger quietly bought then razed the 74-year-old Zimmerman House by Southern California modernist architect Craig Ellwood with plans to build a 15,000-square-foot residence in the increasingly ubiquitous, though contentious style. As first published by Robb Report, the couple reportedly paid $12.5 million in an off-market sale for the midcentury house in Brentwood, which marked one of Ellwood’s earliest projects. They also tore up all of modernist legend Garrett Eckbo’s original landscaping, effectively turning the nearly one-acre lot into one flat slab.

In Quinn Garvey’s video, which she took inside the Zimmerman House during the 2022 estate sale, you can see the home’s original fixtures and structures, many of which were featured in Julius Shulman’s 1953 photos of the property—and still seemed to be in good if not great shape. (Some were even sold on 1stDibs late last year, prior to demolition.) Garvey says that when she heard the news, she was surprised, even though this isn’t her “first rodeo” in terms of estate sales in subsequently demolished homes. “I remember going through it, and it was such a pleasant experience,” she says. “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?”

Of course, the preservationists are also quite upset—and vocal. Nonprofit Save Iconic Architecture called the demolition “devastating” in an Instagram post, with at least one commenter likening the couple’s choice to “buying a Rothko for the frame.” The architectural preservation advocacy group’s cofounder, interior designer Jaime Rummerfield, says she more than understands the internet’s collective disgust, likening it to “an endangered animal that just got poached again” and saying that it’s “neglectful” for architect Ken Ungar, who’s been commissioned to build the couple’s new modern farmhouse-style mansion, to not even attempt to incorporate the existing structure into their vision. “Shame on them for not wanting to keep something so special,” she adds.

Part of the reason people are angry is because, realistically, the couple didn’t actually have to demolish the residence. They reportedly purchased the house because Schwarzenegger’s mother, Maria Shriver, lives right across the street, raising the question of whether there were other properties on the block they could have pursued. Some, like L.A. architect John Dutton—who actually grew up in one of the adjacent homes Shriver razed to build her compound—have also questioned whether Pratt and Schwarzenegger could have added to the existing footprint, saying that, while amending the Ellwood-designed property would have taken longer and cost more, the result would have been a home that was more special, rather than “a weird, emblematic three-dimensional advertisement of status.”

And while the home’s 2,770 square feet is modest by today’s big money real estate standards, realtors like Take Sunset’s Rob Kallick agree that, had the house hit the open market, it would have generated a lot of interest, even at that steep price point. “Craig Ellwood homes elicit a very strong emotional response from buyers,” he says. While he admits that there is a limited pool of buyers for a $12.5 million architecturally significant home, “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.” A Richard Neutra house that just went on the market in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood is already in contract, for instance, with Kallick saying showings were “a complete madhouse.”

[From Dwell]

Re: the house could have been put on the open market – EXACTLY! There are so many wealthy people who want to purchase a piece of architectural history so they kind of find a cool way to preserve and modernize it within reason. Dwell also says that there’s outrage that the Zimmerman House wasn’t already given some kind of protected status, and basically the city and the historic preservationist society was slow to move on this one. There was no mechanism in place to stop this. Pratt and Schwarzenegger basically didn’t have to consult with anyone before they razed the house.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instagram.

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89 Responses to “Chris Pratt & Katherine Schwarzenegger razed a historic Craig Ellwood house”

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  1. Shawna says:

    The worst Chris

  2. Jessica says:

    This is why he’s the worst Chris…

  3. lamejudi says:

    Idk, if you don’t want to keep winning the Worst Chris contest, don’t do sh*t like this.

    • CL says:

      Seriously! It’s like he’s TRYING to keep the Worst title.

      • North of Boston says:

        Pratt: does something pointlessly destructive/moronic

        Interwebs: “Pratt is the worst Chris”

        Pratt, to Pratt: “Hold my beer”

  4. Mego says:

    Well thats like Mr Schwarzenegger senior who preaches about climate change and takes his private plane everywhere…

  5. Pinkosaurus says:

    Tacky basic people with money. I know she’s an “influencer” but I can’t imagine caring about her taste or opinions. He is absolutely the worst Chris.

    • Joy Liluri says:

      She’s an influencer?? I’ve never seen any of her posts. Off to look now!

      Also. The whole “beige mom” vibe is getting destroyed on social media. People want personality and color. Even if it’s not to their taste. It’s so dang refreshing.

      • samipup says:

        I’ve come to the conclusion that us basic folk are being trolled re the whole quiet beige thing. That’s not what good fashion is about.

      • Joy Liluri says:

        It’s about all the white chalk paint on thrifted uniquely shaped vases, the bland art, the no color anywhere. The magazine look of no one lived here and this can fit everyone’s taste because it has no personality.

        House staging on steroids basically.

      • Jilly says:


  6. Lucy2 says:

    It’s really a shame there’s no sort of preservation commission That can protect these important pieces of architecture.
    It’s sad, but honestly I’m not at all surprised, totally seems like something he would do without a second thought.

    • Christina says:

      Does the US not have any heritage protection in terms of the built environment? Any structure older than 60 years requires permission from the provincial heritage counsel before you can alter it in South Africa. Most structures will get permission, but if there is heritage considerations the counsel will intervene. It usually doesn’t mean that you cant do anything, but what you do has to be sensitive to the history of the building and the ambiance of the street-scape.

      • lucy2 says:

        The US is humongous. We have a National Registry of historic places, which is run through the National Parks Service, but most things like this are done at the state or local level. I’m an architect in NJ, we have a lot of old historic buildings here, but in my whole area there’s only one preservation committee that has any power, and even then there are work arounds.
        It’s a shame this one slipped through the cracks, and that the two people who bought it, who could certainly have gone elsewhere on the block, chose it disregard the history and demolish it. People who don’t want a historic house shouldn’t be a property with a historic house on it.

      • Megan says:

        I live in a mid century modern community. We are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but it took ten years a lot of perseverance from neighborhood volunteers to make that happen.

      • BeanieBean says:

        As Lucy2 & Megan have stated, there is the National Register of Historic Places, a program overseen by the NPS. Just note that there are no actual protections that come along with listing. There are consultations that must happen if you desire to change something on the NRHP, but no protections. A federal agency can even destroy a listed property, as long as they’ve consulted with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Office, federally recognized tribes (if interested, depends on the property), and other interested parties & then come up with a mitigation that is agreeable to all parties–usually a HABS (Historic American Building Survey), which is a full narrative of the history of the property, architectural plans, and large-format B/W photography; i.e., preservation through documentation.

        Then on the local level, in each state there will be similar historic preservation laws; and of course, cities will have historic districts subject to their own rules.

        The key to all this is–preservation cannot be imposed by ‘the state’. Meaning, the federal, state, or local governments cannot declare your individual house to be listed on any registry; you need to ask for that yourself. If you own a historic home in a town’s historic district, then you need to abide by those rules, yes, but they can’t list your home on the NRHP without your involvement.

      • tealily says:

        And even when there are protections in place, a lot of times rich people will still demolish or alter a property and just eat the fine. It’s absolutely disgusting.

      • North of Boston says:

        Tealily, you are SO right about that

        They either just do something without even applying for a permit, or get told NO and just do it anyway. Any around here it’s almost always reacted to with a fine, and no other repercussions on the owner or contractors who did it. I’ve only seen one case where the city was like : no, you built 5 feet higher than your design/permit specified. Undo it and restore the historic roofline, proportions. But often there isn’t a way to really “restore” what’s already been destroyed, as with what these two dopes did. It’s gone, like the Sycamore Gap tree and other things morons just destroyed because they could.

    • BQM says:

      They do have a historic preservation committee who, along with the city, dropped the ball on this one. I’d get an intern to compile a database and just monitor sales and rentals and whatnot.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Could be somebody’s masters degree project.

      • Christine says:

        That’s a great idea, BeanieBean. I live in LA, and this just makes me sad. There is really great architecture all over the city, and not enough people are paying attention, or the Worst Chris wouldn’t have even tried this in the first place. There are plenty of properties that are tear downs in this city. This wasn’t one of them.

    • PotatoPuff says:

      It’s a huge bummer and a great loss for the study of mid-century modern architecture. There are **a lot** of culturally relevant properties in LA that are currently threatened by demolition. Marilyn Monroe’s home is one of them (although it’s not a mid-century design; it actually was built in 1929). There’s an ongoing effort to preserve it.

      So many other properties haven’t made it. Frank Sinatra’s former home was a mid-century treasure, designed by Paul Revere Williams, the first licensed Black architect in California; it was torn down.

      • Christine says:

        I think they finally protected Marilyn’s bungalow, but it took a really long time.

      • PotatoPuff says:

        Hi Christine, it’s a process, from what I understand. Marilyn’s home hasn’t been demolished, it’s still unprotected. People are trying to designate her home as a Historic Cultural Monument by the LA government, and they’ve made inroads. It passed LA Planning and Land Use Management Committee last month, but the LA City Council has final say on the proposal. And now I’m proud to say that I know way too much about Marilyn’s bungalow 😉

  7. Cessily says:

    The worst king of people… this couple truly are just horrible people. This just cements it.

  8. caitlinsmom says:

    Tacky, trashy people destroying art to build a Mc Mansion. Definitly the worst Chris of all.

    • Barbie1 says:

      Two brainless bimbos. Made for eachother.

    • BeanieBean says:

      And the landscape, which is just as bad. Possibly worse, as this is SoCal; how much greenery are they taking out & what are they replacing it with? How much water is it going to suck up? What about the increase to insolation?

      • Christine says:

        I’m having trouble with that part as well. I can’t imagine how many gardeners have lovingly taken care of that property over the decades, and to just rip it out is awful.

  9. Sofacat says:

    Prat(t) by name…..

    • Shawna says:

      …prat by game. Still can’t get his horrifying diss of Anna Faris and his first child out of my head.

      • MelodyM says:

        This! x1000! He left her because she wanted another child…how many does he have now with the trophy wife????

  10. Rapunzel says:

    Isn’t Brett Waterman from Restored in the Brentwood area? He could’ve worked some magic on that house and made it great. So gross they did this.

    • CatMum says:

      It was already great. It didn’t even really need a lot of restoration.

      I’m really glad that people are talking about this because it happens far too often.

      As everyone else has said, still the Worst Chris.

  11. Eleonor says:

    This is just awful.
    Entitled people with zero interest in education are the worst, because they have the money to destroy everything and not even understand what they are doing.

  12. Cee says:

    That house was beautiful. Like why would you want to tear it down? Why can’t they just purchase something similar to what the want and just renovate it? Can’t they buy empty land instead?

    They’re just 100% entitled and oblivious to it. And she’s very dangerously in tradwife territory.

    • Shawna says:

      “very dangerously in tradwife territory” – isn’t that her entire thing? Literally her only thing. She pretends to nothing else.

      • Cee says:

        She still presumes to earn her own living and have her own career. Tradwives do not pretend they have a career, even if being a content creator is one LOL

    • Kebbie says:

      Apparently it’s directly across the street from her mom’s house. I’m guessing that’s why they wanted this specific home (or lot as they saw it.)

  13. I see Pratt is continuing on with being the worst. He really does love that title because that’s all he will ever be is the worst.

  14. Giddy says:

    In Austin there is a proliferation of “compounds” in lovely older neighborhoods. In order to get the space for these giant projects the owners quietly buy up 3 or 4 adjacent properties, then they demolish all of them. When they finish there is a giant home surrounded by tall walls with electric gates. Like the Pratt/Schwartzeneggers, these new residents care nothing about the effect their giant projects have on an older established neighborhood. They’ll probably send around bottles of wine to their new neighbors and will congratulate themselves on how generous they are. 😡

    • lucy2 says:

      A bit of that happening here too, buying the neighbor to make a compound, but usually it’s a crappy 70s or 80s house. If we were interviewed for this tear down project, my boss would have turned it down and told them to please reconsider. I just looked at the firm designing their new home…talk about basic.

    • Shawna says:

      My mother-in-law bought early into a beautiful midtown Atlanta neighborhood. She says all the new buyers praise all the trees being around. Oh it’s so beautiful and green! And their first move is to raze all the trees on their property.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Oh wow. I see that time & again, but it still amazes me why anyone would want to do that. You need that tree shade in Atlanta!! And the birds need a place to perch!

      • tealily says:

        Jesus. Meanwhile the rest of us are planting dozens of trees on our treeless properties in hopes of getting the summer AC bills to come down a fraction.

      • Shawna says:

        Yup, they’re salty about … raking … leaves. Which they can pay someone else to rake over and over and over again.

        @tealily – we did $6k of new insulation last summer here in Texas. Even if we never see the money back, I’m happy to not use the extra AC in the meantime.

      • tealily says:

        @Shawna omg we spent all day yesterday researching insulation options. Did you have it done or do it yourself? Any tips?

      • Shawna says:

        @tealily – We decided against spray foam because having a sealed house isn’t ideal for humid climes. Blown-in fiberglass. We’d have preferred blown-in cellulose but it isn’t really an option here.

  15. Amy Bee says:

    I think they could have incorporated the old house into their renovation plans.

    • Emcee3 says:

      So true. I have a colleague who did this w/ a historic cabin near Austin TX.

      And PBS This Old House recently reno’d a MCM for a family. The parents worked w/ an architect & tradesmen to preserve historic elements of the home while making changes / additions for their young son who has Muscular Dystrophy.

  16. Sass says:

    Oh, eww.

    We have been watching this trend get thoroughly oversaturated in our area and I have had the misfortune of meeting one family who built one. It is exactly as oversized and impersonal as you’d think. But it’s even worse because it’s a fully custom build by a private contractor, not just a tract home with some shiplap slapped on. Like they are big time New Money and show it in every possible way. They even have an Instagram page for their “build”. They send their kids to an ultra conservative private Christian school and drive the Tesla “suv” (🙄) with lambo doors (🙄🙄) and the dad looks like he’s on roids and the mom looks like a Real Housewife. I hate them. 🤣

  17. Nancy says:

    Unpopular opinion warning. I’ve see a lot of really nice mid century modern homes and this one, regardless of the architect, was not one of them. To me it looked like a motel with a garage attached to it.

    • Bumblebee says:

      Mid century modern is…well, I don’t like that style. So, my thoughts looking at that house is I wouldn’t buy it. They bought it because it’s across the street from Mom. So look for a different house for sale close by. Or work with an architect to update/renovate the house to what you like, but still keep elements of the original house.

      • NikkiK says:

        These two are dolts but I don’t see anything spectacular about the old house. But I truly hate farmhouse aesthetic and all these rich mofos and their farmer rancher cosplay.

        And don’t demolitions of this nature have to be approved? Don’t you have to go through the appropriate channels and get the okay to demolish and then have new plans approved?

      • BeanieBean says:

        @NikkiK: yes, there are permits to obtain & it would appear that all was taken care of. I saw a lot of this kind of thing on Million Dollar Listing-LA; sometimes homeowners would resist selling to someone who just wanted the property so they could tear down what was there & build something new–usually bigger. Somebody who owned a house Marilyn Monroe once lived in hoped for someone to keep the house due to its history & associations, but I believe the person who bought it tore it all down & built something else (too lazy to google, but I think that’s what I remember).

    • Shawna says:

      History isn’t just one person’s aesthetics.

      • BeanieBean says:

        True. I thought of that when I read someone’s earlier comment on ‘crappy’ 70s & 80s era stuff. Recent history rarely gets any love. These MCM houses that are so popular now? They weren’t so desired in the late 90s/early 2000s; they were just considered old.

      • Shawna says:

        There’s a house that sold two miles away from me with hideous pink carpets, floral wallpaper, brass everywhere, beveled glass mirrors, and white laminate counters. But god it would be awesome if someone moved in who loved it and kept it that way, as it was prestinely kept. Pure 1985. Not my cup of tea, but it is history!

      • Emcee3 says:

        @Shawna. You just described a custom house a colleague had built in SugarLand TX back in the mid 80s. Pink carpets (Wife of the house insisted color desc is “Rose”) & Laura Ashley wallpaper everywhere. Oh, & ducks. Ceramic white ducks, cross-stitch ducks, wooden mallard decoy ducks for his study/den. Ducks were big in the mid-80s.

      • Shawna says:

        @Emcee3 – the house I’m speaking of is within two hours’ driving of Sugarlands, lol! 🙂

    • Betsy says:

      Pretty sure there were other houses available for purchase.

    • Emme says:

      @Nancy…..totally agree. Ugly building, looks like a factory unit. Not a great loss, even if it is a mid century modern.

      • C says:

        No, it is a loss.
        I’m not a fan of Stravinsky but if I found an original manuscript of his I wouldn’t toss it in the trash.
        Perspective please.

  18. Localady says:

    I adore older properties. Painstakingly planted older landscape designs can be breathtakingly beautiful and there are some real gems in LA. The last home I lived in here in the PNW was a very old caretaker house on an historic property on a river with phenomenal views and older plantings. I thought it was a piece of Heaven.

  19. Ameerah M says:

    He is and will forever be the worst Chris.

  20. Lau says:

    Further proof that taste really doesn’t come with money.

  21. BeanieBean says:

    Such a cool house! And with the ORIGINAL LANDSCAPING!! Appalling. But this is what stinkin’ rich people do. For heaven’s sake, if it’s not your style, keep looking & find something that is. So wasteful.

    • lucy says:

      Or if you want to tear down (which sometimes is the right answer) then look for a property that doesn’t have a significant home on it.

  22. Whatever says:

    I get that they wanted that specific piece of land because it was across the street from her mom. And I get that maybe the house wasn’t their style or large enough for their purposes. But the piece of land they bought is so large, I don’t understand why they couldn’t have ALSO built the house they wanted on it, and kept the original house as like, a guest house or something. They could have had the best of both worlds, the exact house they wanted at the exact location they wanted, plus preserve a historic piece of architecture, which would be a fabulous investment for them. Morons.

    • Eurydice says:

      The article says that the lot is less than an acre. I don’t know what the zoning is like there, but maybe the land isn’t enough for more than one house.

      • whatever says:

        I didn’t think about zoning issues. That’s a fair point.

        They’re still terrible, though. There’s no way, with all their resources, that this was their only option.

  23. tealily says:

    I guess they were technically in the wrong here and it’s their money, but it doesn’t make them not dicks. Move to Montana or something if this is what you want. Obvious Worst Chris behavior.

  24. Dandelion2 says:

    1. Worst Christ. 2. That was a Motel Bates looking ugly house IMHO. 3. If houses have an historical architectural importance, there defenitively should be a conservation agency to protect them.

  25. asdf says:

    Crisp Ratt wants to be Ronald Reagan so badly. That’s why he married a Kennedy. That’s why he’s pandering to MAGAs and the alt right. He’s a Trump in the making.

  26. Pleit says:

    Looking at this classic architecture… it didn’t look all that impressive. I’m no architecture nut, but there should be some limits to what is preserved.

    • Eenie Googles says:

      I *am* an architecture nut — it absolutely *is* impressive and no, not common.

      There should be a limit to the number of two-story foyers with giant staircases. And yet here comes another.

  27. Eurydice says:

    I’ll be popular by saying that he’s the worst Chris.

    And I’ll be unpopular by saying that you can’t buy a house unless someone wants to sell it. From the information here, the seller didn’t care all that much about the historical status of the property – probably because it’s harder to get $12.5 million for a small house that has a lot of preservation restrictions. So, you have a seller who wants a quiet sale, you have a buyer who wants a very specific location and you have preservationists who sat on their hands thinking that nothing would ever change. And somehow this is all Chris’s fault.

  28. Eenie Googles says:

    And the fact that they’re building a “modern farmhouse mansion” is just the spit on its grave.

    • North of Boston says:

      Modern Farmhouse is the 2022-24 version of the McMansions from the 90’s. White board and batten, black window frames, tall rectangular light fixtures, 3000+ sq ft- flippers and builders have been wedging them into tiny lots all over the old New England city near me, so out of synch with the location, too big for their lots (and is it really a ‘farmhouse’ if there’s no farm for miles?) cookie cutter, instantly dated.

      I renovated my little 1200 sq ft cape last year – it needed new clapboard and windows, the 1950’s originals were way past useful life. When i was getting quotes a couple guys were pushing me to go with that -white B & B, black framed windows, etc. It would have looked ridiculous on this style, size of house, and would have been dated in a hot second. I went with a classic NE Cape aesthetic, instead, because it suited the house and is timeless.

      These two are just broadcasting what mindless entitled dopes they are, taking down a house with style, a soul to chase a trend. One that’s likely on its way out within 1-2 years.

  29. TikiChica says:

    I started watching Fallout, and on the first episode, the first scene at the birthday party.. I swear that was the house. But I can’t find the film location. Does anybody know?