May 12, 2011
The house where Bertolt Brecht resided between 1942 and 1947 is the first landmark designation in Santa Monica recognizing the home of a major cultural figure. Brecht resided here at a time when our city and adjacent communities became a place of refuge for German writers, artists and intellectuals, many of them Jewish, who fled tyranny and persecution in Hitler-controlled Europe in the years leading up to and during World War II.
The residence at 1063 26th Street was Brecht’s home and workplace for five eventful and productive years. Considered by many to be one of the most influential playwrights of the 20th century, Brecht wrote five plays and a large body of poetry during these years. These included The Life of Galileo, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and others. During this time, he also wrote the screenplay to Fritz Lang’s anti-Nazi noir classic, Hangmen Also Die.
The home itself is a prominent visual landmark along 26th Street, where it stands out as one of the oldest homes in its immediate area. Architecturally, it is a unique variant of the American Foursquare style, typical for the period 1910-1920. Its distinctive architecture, and its setting on a larger than usual parcel, make it a prominent feature of the neighborhood. With the recognition and protection afforded by its new landmark status, the house stands now as a vivid reminder of an important time in the political and cultural history of our city.
Note: As this news article is written, the house is for sale, a great opportunity to own a house of historic importance on a large, over-sized lot that could accommodate another building. As a Santa Monica landmark, the home is eligible for a Mills Act contract.