Here's What It's Like to Try and Sell LA's Most Notorious Murder House
We talked to Nancy Sandborn who would like you to please buy the Los Feliz Murder Mansion for $2,750,000.
Photo by Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
If you want to live in a stately hillside house in Los Angeles, but you've been holding out for one where a horrible tragedy happened over a half-century ago, now's your chance: the Los Feliz Murder Mansion, one of LA's premier goth makeout spots, and perhaps the crown jewel of Southern California murder lore, can be yours for only $2,750,000.
The Murder Mansion, for the uninitiated, is the site of a murder-suicide from 1959. Since the house has remained unoccupied ever since the night of the crime, legend has it that the worldly possessions of the murderer and his family remained untouched for decades—and were visible through the windows.
"This isn't the first murder house I've sold," said Nancy Sandborn of Berkshire Hathaway's real estate operation in Los Angeles. Sandborn's job is to find a new owner, and that's precisely what she plans to do. On Tuesday she held an event known as a "broker's caravan"—an open house for real estate agents only—in order to drum up interest in the property. She told me over 200 people showed up armed with stories. That was how she learned she was selling a legend, and that she was going to have her hands full.
Sandborn compared the interest in the Los Feliz Murder Mansion to the fervor over the 1998 demolition of Rockingham, a home where Nicole Brown Simpson lived before she was murdered. "People still drive by just to look at it, and that house doesn't even stand anymore!" she laughed.
Locals describe it as a "murder mansion," but at just over 5,000 square feet, 2475 Glendower Place is actually just a big, Spanish Revival murder house. It boasts an incredible location, just a stone's throw from Griffith Park, and comes with a breathtaking view of Los Angeles from its front doorstep. And it's also been the location of very few heartbreaking and grisly murder-suicides, at a total of just one.
In 1959, the house's owner, a doctor named Harold N. Perelson, had some kind of mental and emotional breakdown and attacked his family with a hammer. He struck and killed his wife Lillian, and then turned on his 18-year-old daughter, but fortunately her injuries weren't fatal. She and Perelson's two other kids escaped. Dr. Perelson then drank poison and died.
From that night until the present day, the house has stood empty and mostly neglected, and it's become increasingly dilapidated in the process.
That's how the Los Feliz Murder Mansion became a curiosity for adventurous locals, and a source of irritation for neighbors. A 2009 story in the LA Times about the house pointed out that explorers brave enough to sneak up to the windows could peep at 1950s furniture and a TV, along with what appeared to be unopened christmas gifts. By implication, the Perelson family's stuff was still in there, frozen just as it was the day of the crime, like a morbid time capsule.
Here's a photo taken through the living room window from when I visited one night in 2014:
And here's a daytime photo of that same room now that Sandborn has cleared it out:
The house may still be creepy, but if anyone was clinging to the hope that the scene would be preserved, that ship has sailed.
Sandborn, however, thinks your romantic notions about the place are hogwash, "just like alligators in the sewers of New York," she said. She pointed out to me that a couple named Emily and Julian Enriquez bought the house just after Dr. Perelson died. The explanation, she claims, for the midcentury bric-a-brac strewn around inside the the house is that "The Enriquez family bought in the mid-century," so there's no reason to think that was murder memorabilia.
And anyone with any attachment to the Los Feliz Murder Mansion legend had better hope she's right, because those items are gone now. "They were removed," is all Sandborn would tell me. It's been cleaned up to prepare it for the market, but that's not to say it's necessarily habitable. Sandborn made no assurances about the structural integrity of the house, nor the condition of its fixtures and appliances, except to say that the new buyer should "investigate."
One interesting development that only emerged when Sandborn cleared the place out and took pictures: the old timey bar upstairs in the ballroom (It has a ballroom) is still intact. So far there's been no word about what time Lloyd the ghost bartender clocks in every night though.
Sandborn's real estate listing certainly doesn't mention the murder. "First time on the market in over 50 years!" it says, but it doesn't mention why. According to California law, violent deaths in a home only need to be disclosed to new buyers if they happened in the past three years. In other words, legally speaking, Sandborn doesn't need to tell anyone she's selling a crime scene.
But when I talked to her, she wasn't coy about the murder at all. "Some people care. Some people don't care, and if you care, then it's not a house that you're gonna buy," she said. And from her perspective as a real estate agent, a house like this in such a great spot and at such a modest asking price relative to the surrounding homes is a big deal. "There are very few pieces of property like this just sitting around waiting to be purchased," she said, adding, "Sorry to be so cavalier."
When I last reported on the Murder Mansion in 2014, a former neighbor named Jude Margolis, told me 2475 Glendower is "just an old empty house that was at one time beautiful, that is now a teardown."
Sandborn disagrees, and would prefer to not see it knocked down. "It's a beautiful house," she said. "Hopefully someone will buy it and restore it."
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Note: A previous version incorrectly referred to Rockingham as the home where Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered, rather than simply her former home.
- Vice Blog