February 21, 2008 / 7:38 PM / 10 years ago

L.A. set to save writer Charles Bukowski's home

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Poet and author Charles Bukowski is gone but the bungalow where he penned his first novel still stands, as bedraggled as the writer himself, and city leaders say they will save it as a literary landmark in a city better known for its Hollywood glitz.

The Los Angeles City Council was expected to vote next week to preserve the faded stucco home in the shadow of Hollywood where the hard-living Bukowski lived from 1963 to 1972 and wrote the autobiographical novel “Post Office,” among other works.

The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission has recommended the nearly 90-year-old property’s designation as a historic monument, rescuing it from demolition by developers looking to put up condominiums.

“Hollywood is famous not because everybody has been a saint or a nun,” Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti said. “It’s always attracted complicated and important people and Charles Bukowski certainly fits that mold.”

Garcetti said the hard-drinking writer, best known for chronicling his own seedy life on the gritty streets of Los Angeles, deserved to be remembered even though he was “not necessarily a guy you’d want to be friends with.”

In addition to Bukowski’s former home, the property includes several brown Spanish Colonial Revival style “ready to assemble” apartments and bungalows that the city says were built on the lot between 1922 and 1926.

The faded stucco bungalows where Charles Bukowski wrote his first novel is pictured battered and boarded up in Hollywood February 21, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

If approved as a historic landmark, the property would remain under private ownership but could not be torn town or substantially altered. Garcetti said Bukowski’s bungalow could eventually be included on a walking tour of Hollywood.

The property now sits abandoned, boarded up and surrounded by a chain link fence, the only sign of life on a recent afternoon a straggly gray cat who sat in the courtyard in the drizzling rain.

On either side on the nondescript street, not far from Hollywood’s tourist destinations, sit slightly newer apartment complexes and a few doors down is the Nativity of BVM Ukrainian Catholic Church, a hub for the city’s Ukrainian community.

None of the mostly immigrant residents of a nearby apartment complex interviewed by Reuters had heard of Bukowski, who died in 1994 at the age of 73.

Most were skeptical that the ramshackle apartments, which were mostly considered a neighborhood eyesore, could have historic significance.

“You know, I don’t know this guy,” said inventor Lorraine Marshall. “I love poetry but come on -- it’s a crappy old bungalow. People can go a little overboard”

There was no answer at the church.

Editing by Bill Trott

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