As a long-ago reader of Ray Bradbury's work, and as a member of my community's neighborhood council, I would like to request the opinions of folks on this forum about commemorating the site of Mr. Bradbury's teenage home here in Venice, California.
Only within the last few months was I made aware of the house, though it was only a few blocks from my own home. About a month ago, I noted with sadness that the house was suddenly gone. It has been razed by a New York art dealer, who is developing the site for an art gallery.
The house had become run-down, and was apparently inhabited by at least six people - quite an overload, given its small size. Still, a plaque commemorated the house as Ray Bradbury's boyhood home.
Tonight, the committee on which I serve heard the project description by the new owner's representative. I was angered to hear that the plaque had been destroyed with the house. The developer chose to erase cultural history rather than embrace the significance of a house that was simply in the way of his future gallery.
What do you all think - was this simply a sad passing of a minor landmark, or do you feel that the location merits future recognition?
If the latter, what do you recommend that a new plaque should say?
Thanks for all comments.
Regards, Jed Pauker
14 August 2008, 04:05 AM
I live in the UK, so it's none of my business what the inhabitants of Venice get up to. However, I visited Venice earlier this year specifically because of the Bradbury connection. The folks there need to be aware that Bradbury has done much to create an interest in the place.
By coincidence, I have been drafting a piece about Bradbury's Venice for my website. I hope to have it posted in a few days (the link below will take you there).
In the 1962 documentary The Story of a Writer, Bradbury is shown cycling in Venice, and being inspired by it - although it looks like an industrial relic compared to how it looks now.
In his 1985 novel Death is a Lonely Business, Bradbury paints a vivid picture of old Venice. His description of the ruins of an old rollercoaster and abandoned circus cars firmly connects that book to the rest of his body of work.
Admittedly, Bradbury's depiction of Venice is the OLD Venice, but it comes across as a place of wonder. The folks of Venice should be pleased to have a connection to such a major figure of American literature.
In the video Ray Bradbury-An American Icon Ray is standing outside that house, small it appeared and painted white. Ray mentioned that the rent was only about $40 a month (if I remember correctly) and was on property owned by the utility company that Ray's dad worked for.
It is such a shame that there would be so much disregard for the site and the plaque. Not only should the new owner pay for the development of a new one, they should put a note on the bottom indicating what an idiot he was to destroy the home (couldn't it have been moved and restored?)
I would think that it would be appropriate for some recognition to be given as to the site. I recall a sign in the yard of a country home near Pella, Iowa that simply said "Boyhood Home of Wyatt Earp."
Jed, please keep us posted as to the decision of the City of Venice.
14 August 2008, 04:58 PM
Childhood home in Venice? I thought he only moved there when he married. To an apartment.
Weren't his childhood homes in Los Angeles? I have the addresses written down somewhere.
I remember one was on Saint Andrews, and I have been to two or three, plus his home from which they moved into the present one. It's just a mile or so away.
15 August 2008, 12:20 AM
Thanks for all your replies so far. My understanding, informed only by neighbors, is that the Venice Boulevard house was a boyhood home.
Since last night, we've located the plaque: Our local historical society reports that it was retained by the house's most recent owner. The key may lie therein.
15 August 2008, 01:31 AM
From Bradbury's biography (The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller):
The Bradburys moved to Venice in 1942 (when Ray was 21-22). It was "a small rental home, located at 670 South Venice, for thirty dollars a month...a Craftsman style bungalow, built in 1923. Painted white and nestled a little less than a mile inland from the ocean, the 750-square-foot home had two bedrooms, a small kitchen with a window that looked out on the yard and driveway, and a small bathroom...Next door to the house was a humming redbrick powerhouse that the Bureau of Power and Light owned...Set back just a short distance from the new house was a one-car garage, with a workroom in the rear corner that Ray commandeered as an office..."
Originally posted by philnic: The Bradburys moved to Venice in 1942 (when Ray was 21-22).
Aha! It was the "boyhood" part that threw me off - I should have simply pulled Sam's book off the old shelf and checked for myself. Good old Phil.
15 August 2008, 07:10 PM
Originally posted by jetpower: Since last night, we've located the plaque: Our local historical society reports that it was retained by the house's most recent owner. The key may lie therein.
Hooray! Smart recent owner.
You say there's a key hidden inside? Fascinating! (Kidding, I'm kidding.)
Therein is a good word.
15 August 2008, 08:40 PM
What biplane said.
And watch out. More landmarks are next.
15 August 2008, 09:29 PM
Last year or two while looking thru a bunch of personal photos of Ray I came across one where Ray posed in front of this very house where he once lived with his family. I recall Donn Albright standing there as well, along with several others. Now the photo wasn't taken that long ago. I'd say roughly 2005 or 2006. It looked like a nice house.
The owners must've been offered enough money to be able to pay off their bills and put a few bucks in the bank. That often has a far, far better gleam than some glitter of a plaque attached to some house, you know.
17 August 2008, 10:05 AM
Don't know if we're talking about the same house, but the old 1950's address was 10750 Clarkson Rd., Los Angeles.
Here on GOOGLE Street View is 10748-10754. Looks like a new house or re done one. Would this be the old Bradbury lot?
(After you click on link below, click on street view, then place the gold man on the Red notation of address location. Make sure bottom of gold man with the 'X' is in exact position of red market. Wheew!)
Great idea re: Google maps. As luck would have it, a search for "684 Venice Bl., 90291" (an offset from the real address) yields a view of the house and the neighboring power building, which has seen many incarnations during the last twenty years, with little, if any, change to its shell.
The committee recommended a condition on the proposed project requiring a new plaque to be displayed (I'm sure we'll try to consult the existing plaque's owner, too). The project's images can be viewed here: http://venicenc.org/Projects/#660%20Venice. Be advised that the "Existing Conditions" photos are stark when compared to Google's view.
While you may have been joking about the key, it's actually a good idea...
Many thanks for all your ideas to date; more are certainly welcome, as consideration will continue until final City approval.
17 August 2008, 11:16 PM
I'm serious about a plaque reading "Here used to stand a historic structure demolished by short-sighted idiots."
18 August 2008, 01:54 AM
Originally posted by jetpower: ...a search for "684 Venice Bl., 90291" (an offset from the real address) yields a view of the house and the neighboring power building...
Here is a direct link to that view. Thanks, jetpower, for giving us this amount of detail on the proposed project.
So the remaining building, being kept in the new development, is the old powerhouse, right? If so, that in itself is an appropriate monument to Bradbury - immortalised in his short story "The Powerhouse".
Would Mr B himself be interested in these plans? (Doug? Nard? jkt?)This message has been edited. Last edited by: philnic,