Chris Pratt’s decision to demo a historic home he bought for $12.5 million last year has ignited public outrage: He has ‘more money than taste’

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Hollywood actor Chris Pratt, best known for his roles in the sitcom Parks and Recreation and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, has spurred the wrath of architecture enthusiasts over his decision to raze a historic 1950s house, designed by Craig Ellwood, to make way for a 15,000-square-foot mansion. 

The move to demolish came shortly after Pratt purchased the mid-century home in an off-market sale for $12.5 million in January 2023. The house is located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, across the street from Pratt’s mother-in-law, former first lady of California Maria Shriver. The historic house will be replaced by a modern farmhouse designed by architect Ken Ungar, Architectural Digest reported, and is now in the early stages of construction. Until its completion, Pratt is waiting it out with his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, in a $32 million estate in Los Angeles’ Pacific Palisades neighborhood.

Part of the outrage is because the house appeared to be in great condition prior to its demolition. In a video posted on TikTok, fashion historian Quinn Garvey captured the home during an estate sale two years ago, revealing a sturdy-looking interior of light-filled rooms and no noticeable damage to floors or walls. “Chris Pratt, you’re a weirdo for this one,” she said at the start of the video, adding, “The family is really doubling down on this block.”

Pratt’s new home is adjacent to Shriver’s two homes, each valued at over over $10 million, carving out a family compound of sorts in the neighborhood. The demolition reflects the rising trend of modern, multimillion-dollar farmhouses cropping up in America’s suburbs that has gone on for decades and was newly revived after TV personality couple Joanna and Chip Gaines launched their debut show Fixer Upper, in which they remodeled old farmhouses, according to a National Association of Realtors report. Ungar has designed several multimillion-dollar mansions, including modern farmhouses, in Los Angeles.

Knocking down the well-preserved home has sparked much of the outrage Pratt now faces even outside housing communities. On X, a user made a post decrying the move, writing, “Tearing this down for what?? Floor to ceiling black and white marble with no soul?” Another X user criticized the cost of the demolition, writing, “Maybe I’m different but I would have a hard time sleeping soundly if I spent $12.5 million on this house only to tear it down.” On a Los Angeles Reddit page, another critic wrote, “It’s a shame they didn’t buy something less architecturally significant to destroy. Our architectural treasures are being destroyed by people with more money than taste.” 

Pratt did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment. 

Losing architectural marvels is ‘a gut punch’ 

Ellwood’s design for the single-family house was commissioned by couple Martin and Eva Zimmerman in 1949 and was featured in <em>Progressive</em> Architecture magazine shortly after, according to the Eichler Network, which covers mid-century California homes. In 2004, the house changed hands to its last owners, couple Sam and Hilda Newman-Rolfe. 

The 0.83-acre home once featured an elaborate garden landscaped by Garrett Eckbo, and inside, offered five bedrooms and three bathrooms in a 2,770-square-foot single-story space, according to the Robb Report.  

Ellwood, born as Jon Nelson Burke in Texas in 1922, was an informally trained but influential Los Angeles–based architect whose career spanned the early 1950s through the mid-1970s, according to a biography by Architectuul. He gained fame through his eye-catching designs and quirky personality, bolstered by his ambitions in acting, modeling, and self-promotion. He designed several homes in Los Angeles, and the destruction of one of the few that remain is part of the considerable backlash.

The Eichler Network lamented the actor’s decision to raze, citing the house as one of the small number of remaining iconic properties designed by Ellwood and the rise of modern farmhouses being built all over the city. “The sight of a long mailbox and the smell of demolition hanging in the air was what we encountered face to face on a drive of Craig Ellwood–designed homes in the Brentwood area,” Adriene Biondo wrote. “Witnessing the demolition of revered residential architecture is a gut punch.” 

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