clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fans Want to Save Science Fiction Luminary Forrest J. Ackerman's Bungalow From Becoming a Parking Lot

A small house near Ye Rustic Inn in Los Feliz was the last residence of science fiction luminary Forrest J. Ackerman. The one-time literary agent to Ray Bradbury and a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard, and the man generally credited with coining the phrase "sci fi," Ackerman opened the home every Sunday to tours, showing off his downsized but still significant collection of sci fi memorabilia for free. He died in 2008, and now his house, too, is in danger of going away for good. A developer is hoping to raze the house and another adjacent one to make way for a small parking lot, but a group of fans isn't having it and has united to push for landmarking the house, says KPCC.

The bungalow at 4511 Russell Avenue was a big step down from Ackerman's 18-room house on Glendower Avenue ("the Ackermansion"), in the fancy hills of Los Feliz—that estate was filled to the brim with an estimated 300,000 pieces of Ackerman's storied science fiction collection. For years, he offered free Saturday tours (the start of the practice he continued at his smaller house). A 2003 story reminisced that his willingness to share his collection made his Ackermansion "a mecca for local science fiction fans and a pilgrimage spot for visitors from around the globe." Ackerman was an "inspiration to generations of writers and filmmakers including Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro," says KPCC.

But by around 2002, Ackerman had fallen on hard times (legal troubles, health problems), so he sold everything but about 100 pieces of his collection that year, according to his 2008 obituary in the LA Times (One of the items he apparently held on to was the cape Bela Lugosi wore in Dracula.), and moved to the smaller bungalow nearby. According to the obituary, he ultimately died at the house.

The property's connection to Ackerman is fueling a group called Concerned Citizens of Los Feliz, which is leading the charge to save the little Craftsman house—hopefully, by getting it designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark. Receiving the designation wouldn't put the house totally in the clear, but would make the process of getting approval to demolish it more complicated and time-consuming. One supporter tells KPCC that the modest bungalow is "like a badge of honor for the whole neighborhood," and that on hearing the news of the house's possible destruction, "... everybody kind of just went to work and said we can't let this happen. This is part of Hollywood history, and our history, and Los Feliz history."

The group has created a petition asking the city's Cultural Heritage Commission to name the residence a landmark, but Ackerman's last house has only just started the long process toward monument status, and there's no guarantee the residence will receive it. The house has to pass through the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council's Planning, Zoning & Historic Preservation committee and the full Los Feliz Neighborhood Council before heading to the Cultural Heritage Commission and then on to the LA City Council.

Around this time last year, the home of another major science fiction player (and friend of Ackerman), Ray Bradubury, was "deconstructed" by starchitect Thom Mayne, who plans to build his own house on the site (reusing some parts of Bradbury's). Construction isn't planned to begin on the new house until 2017.
· Fans seek to preserve sci-fi legend Forrest Ackerman's last abode as a landmark [SCPR]
· Forrest J Ackerman, writer-editor who coined 'sci-fi,' dies at 92 [LAT]
· Starchitect Thom Mayne is Tearing Down Ray Bradbury's Cheviot Hills House Right Now [Curbed LA]