Skip to main content

More than a few celebrities live in rare and unusual houses. So it comes as no surprise that Jared Leto does, too. What you might find amazing is that Leto’s current residence is a former top-secret Air Force base. Even more surprisingly, the erstwhile military outpost is located in the upscale LA neighborhood of Laurel Canyon. Here’s everything we know about this fascinating choice of abode.

The history of Lookout Mountain Air Force Station

Built in 1941, Lookout Mountain Air Force Station (LMAFS) was a secret installation designed to coordinate radar stations throughout the greater LA area, according to the Land Use Database. After the first Trinity atomic bomb test was conducted in 1945, the 2.5-acre Laurel Canyon facility was transformed into a repository for film and audio documenting recurrent atomic tests performed by the Joint Task Force. Two years later, the 1352d Motion Picture Squadron was activated on-site.

In January 1948, the Army Corps of Engineers commenced extensive remodeling. This included the construction of numerous fireproof film storage vaults. With the Strategic Air Command’s support, eight military officers from the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Air Force manned the facility.

The ever-expanding film production and storage facility remained under the control of the U.S. military until its deactivation in 1968. Military personnel experienced a reassignment to Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. Over 100 million feet of 16mm and 35mm color motion picture film moved there too.

Lookout Mountain becomes a privately owned home

Indian-American character actor, Dehl Berti, purchased the decommissioned property at a 1969 auction for $50,000. This is precisely 10% of what Leto paid for the property in January 2015, reports Variety. But we’ll get to that soon.

At the time of the first civilian purchase, Lookout Mountain boasted a state-of-the-art production facility and full sound stage. Berti added several bathrooms and a lagoon-style swimming pool. But he could not keep up with the mortgage. The property was repossessed in the early ’80s.

Shortly thereafter, a local real estate developer optioned Lookout Mountain. However, he failed to exercise his option. In the mid-’80s, an unnamed computer mogul purchased the property for $550,000 and remodeled the facility into a livable residence. The residence changed hands again in 1995. One-time judge John Ladner and cameraman Mark Lipscomb bought it together for a cost of $750,000.

Jared Leto buys the Air Force Base

In 2012, the property sold yet again, this time to a buyer who intended to rework the sizable property into a $50k-per-month rehab facility. The project did not pan out, and Jared Leto eventually bought the former Air Force base for a cool $5 million. This is likely a proverbial drop in the bucket for the Oscar-winning actor whose net worth amounts to at least $90 million.

Today, Leto’s oddly historical eight-bedroom residence boasts five outdoor fire pits, a red-tiled kitchen, a quiver of metal sculptures, and an actual old-school phone booth. Of course, there’s a bomb shelter, and the home even has a rooftop ping-pong table, according to The Sun.

While wearing a purple suit coat and diamond tie, Jared Leto looks at the camera during the "Morbius" premiere in London
Morbius star Jared Leto Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Jared Leto Admitted That He Doesn’t Watch the Movies He Stars In

Leto, who fronts the band Thirty Seconds to Mars when he’s not making movies such as Morbius, Fight Club, and Dallas Buyers Club, invested wisely when he put his money behind Silicon Valley startups Reddit, Surf Air, Spotify, Uber, Airbnb, and Robinhood.

Leto did so well, in fact, that he felt no need to sell his $1.65 million Hollywood Hills home when he bought the former top-secret WWII military site he now calls home.