The Fascinating Fates of 8 Movie Homes

When the industrial lights are unplugged and the movie stars pack up and go home, what happens to the on-screen homes featured in some of Hollywood's biggest movies? Though many movie houses begin, and end, as private residences, here are a few iconic homes that managed to retain their silver screen legacies while being used for other purposes.


Destined to become: A museum

A Christmas Story House, as it appears today (Summer 2014) Image via: A Christmas Story House & Museum

It has been 33 years since Ralphie and the rest of the Parker family first appeared on screen in the yellow and green house with the 1937 Oldsmobile Six parked outside. A Christmas Story is set in 1940s Indiana, but the actual Parker home is in Cleveland, Ohio and has operated for the past decade as the A Christmas Story House and Museum. Fans of the film can tour the restored home, then cross the street to view original props, costumes, and memorabilia from the film. 

“The House was purchased in 2004 by Brian Jones for $150,000,” A Christmas Story House associate Danielle Bailey tells mental_floss. “Brian had recently started a company selling replica leg lamps, so when the house went up for sale on eBay, it was the perfect fit!”

Jones spent two years and another $240,000 restoring the late 19th-century Victorian home, using the film as a guide to get the details just right, from the size of the kitchen tiles to the light switches. Over 4000 people visited the home in its opening weekend (Thanksgiving 2006), and Bailey says that they now welcome more than 50,000 visitors each year.

“In the decade that A Christmas Story House & Museum has been open, we've been asked more times than we can count, ‘Do you have an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time?,’" says Bailey. "It was the holy grail for little Ralphie in the movie, and it was for us as a museum.” The museum did finally buy one of the guns from the film (which Bailey says were commissioned especially for the production); it is now displayed as a prominent piece of the property’s collection.


Destined to become: A restaurant

Image via Tatiana Danger

Nearly two and a half decades after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper had used the structure as the stomping (and chomping) grounds for the Sawyer family, the building had fallen into disrepair. Barbara and Dennis Thomas moved it from Round Rock to Rockland, Texas and spent over a year restoring it, then turned it into the Grand Central Cafe.

Co-owner Andrew Gerencer tells mental_floss that the house was moved to its current location because it was close in age and style to The Antlers, the historic railroad hotel across the street, which the restaurant owners also bought and restored. “Also, it was moved to make way for a highway and a shopping complex in Round Rock,” Gerencer says.

Fans of the iconic horror film often visit the restaurant and ask the owners questions about its past. “It is a tie between ‘Is the place haunted?’ and ‘Do you ever see Leatherface roaming about?,'” Gerencer says of the questions they're most frequently asked. “The place is a bit haunted, yes ... and though many people believe The Texas Chainsaw Massacre story to be true, we have never seen Leatherface roaming about.” Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the masked killer should visit on Halloween, when a man named Brad from the upstairs bar wears a Leatherface mask and apron and runs around the restaurant with a chainless chainsaw.


Destined to become: A bed and breakfast

Hanging out with M'Lynn (Sally Field) and Shelby (Julia Roberts) in real life is something that most of us only dream about, but all it takes is a trip down to Natchitoches, Louisiana to see and actually stay in the home featured in the female-driven '80s dramedy, Steel Magnolias. In 2003, the home was converted into a bed and breakfast, then aptly named The Steel Magnolia House.

The rooms are named after the characters from the film (The Shelby Room is done up in Shelby’s “signature” pink and the private bath features a tub used in one of the opening scenes), and the house itself is one of the key locations on the town's Steel Magnolias Tour.


Destined to become: A parking lot and commemorative plaque


Image via Google Maps

In 1977, Universal Studios approached the University of Oregon and asked if they could use a couple of frat houses for the film Animal House. The building used for exterior shots of the Delta House was located at 751 E. 11th Ave. in Eugene, Oregon, but a Google Maps search of that location may disappoint John Belushi fans: The building was torn down in 1986, and in its place is a parking lot for the Oregon Foot & Ankle Center. There is, however, a plaque near the sidewalk that briefly mentions the location’s role in the beloved comedy.

Dahlia Bazzaz, editor in chief of the Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon’s student newspaper, tells mental_floss that the “students are very aware of the fact that parts of Animal House were shot at the university. The tour guides at UO make it a point during tours to mention the locations where stuff was filmed. They bring Otis Day and the Knights for events so they can perform ‘Shout’ occasionally.”


Destined to become: A religious temple


Image via Honlos Temple on Facebook

Formerly known as the Chateau Bradbury Estate, this private property in Duarte, California was used as a venue for weddings, private parties, and the occasional film production. In addition to being the used for The Craft, the mansion was also featured in Ghoulies IV (1994), Grosse Point Blank (1997), and episodes of Tales From the Crypt and Bones, among other productions, according to the film location website I Am Not a Stalker.

The property now belongs to a Chinese religious group and is known as the Honlos Temple. The Temple’s website says that Chinese teachings, yoga, and cooking classes are offered on-site, which is a far cry from the witchcraft and partying displayed in The Craft


Destined to become: A tourist attraction


Image via Google Maps

It will be hard for any city to embrace the legacy of a film more than Philadelphia has embraced Sylvester Stallone's Rocky over the past 40 years. There is a statue of Rocky near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the footprints of his sneakers are at the top of the museum’s steps. The official visitor and travel website even has a Rocky-specific landing page for those wanting to experience the city through the boxer’s eyes. But hardcore fans of the film often seek out the less public filming locations. “Luckily for us, Rocky Balboa criss-crossed the city on his training runs so there are lots of Philly locations to visit," Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, tells mental_floss. "But purists go to 1818 E. Tusculum Street in Kensington, the site of Rocky's first house.”

“The story goes that the 1970s owner was paid $50 for use of her facade,” Levitz says of the private home, warning that, “The house is currently occupied, so be discreet and respectful if you visit.”


Destined to become: Your new home

The basement of Buffalo Bill's house is one of The Silence of the Lambs’ creepiest spaces, but it doesn't actually exist. According to the Associated Press, the basement was built on a soundstage, but the house itself is real and is located in the village of Layton, Pennsylvania, about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh. The New York Times reports that the current owners of the home have been struggling to sell it since August of last year.

The original asking price for the five bedroom home was $300,000 and it was reportedly the second most-clicked property on, but that did not translate into offers. The price dropped to $285,000 two months later, then $275,000, and then $249,900 before it was eventually delisted. The house is now relisted for $224,900.


Destined to become: LACMA's first gift of architecture

The James Goldstein House, designed by John Lautner, photo © Jeff Green

It may be a stretch to qualify what Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara) did in The Big Lebowski as "art," but the place where he lived definitely was. Known as the Sheats Goldstein Residence, the estate is owned by James Goldstein, a wealthy sports fan who keeps his source of income a secret from the public. It was recently announced that Goldstein has promised the house—and its contents—as a donation to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which will make it the first piece of architecture in the museum's collection.

The iconic home was designed and built by American architect John Lautner in the early 1960s for artist and social activist Helen Sheats and her husband Paul. It was purchased by Goldstein in 1972. Included with Goldstein's donation is an extensive fashion collection, works by Ed Ruscha, Kenny Scharf, and other famous artists, and a 1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

"Hopefully, my gift will serve as a catalyst to encourage others to do the same to preserve and keep alive Los Angeles’s architectural gems for future generations," Goldstein said in a press release. "In the near future, we will begin presenting occasional cultural and educational programs that engage the house as the work of art it is," LACMA wrote on its blog, though it did not specify exactly when the site will be open to visitors.

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Live Smarter
Buying a Cast-Iron Pan Is the Easiest Way to Improve Your Cooking

You can stock your kitchen with every type of modern slicer, dicer, and immersion circulator you want, but the piece of cooking equipment that comes most highly recommended by chefs has been around for centuries: the cast-iron skillet. Like the name suggests, this essential cooking tool is molded from molten iron and coated with a protective seasoning. The result is a durable, versatile piece of cookware that’s perfect for making everything from dump cakes to sunny-side up eggs.

If you’re used to steel or aluminum frying pans, cooking with cast-iron may sound intimidating. But don’t let horror stories of skillets tarnished by dishwashers or a few hours in the sink turn you off: The metal does require some special knowledge to maintain, but what you get in return is well worth the effort. “You can cook practically anything with it,” Dominique DeVito, author of The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, tells Mental Floss. “It’s definitely a kitchen staple.”

So what is it exactly about cast-iron that entitles it to a spot on your stovetop? Here are some points to consider.


Iron is prized by engineers for its high-tensile strength, so you can bet it will hold up to whatever you throw at in the kitchen. But the metal does have one crucial weakness home cooks need to be aware of: water. Iron combines easily with oxygen, which is how you get iron oxide or rust. When iron is exposed to water, that liquid mixes with gases in the air to create a weak carbonic acid. The acid corrodes the iron, and the oxygen in the water bonds with the newly dissolved iron and forms iron oxide. While it won’t necessarily poison you, rust isn’t something you want flavoring your dinner.

Fortunately, keeping your skillet rust-free is easy to do. All cast-iron pans need to be seasoned before they’re ready to hit the stove. To season a pan, you can coat it with a thin layer of neutral fat like vegetable oil and heat in the oven. During the frontier days, DIY seasoning was the only option for cast-iron owners, but today most pans come pre-seasoned.

The difference between an unreliable skillet and one that’s built to last usually comes down to the quality of the seasoning. DeVito recommends cast-iron products from Lodge, which has been making cookware in the U.S. since 1896. “They put out a nice finished product that’s consistent and smooth,” she says. “It becomes something that you have an expectation about. I know that every time I go to my Lodge, it’s going to perform.”

But even well-seasoned cast-iron benefits from a little extra care from time to time. Before re-seasoning a skillet, DeVito suggests wiping it clean of any grease or caked-on food that’s left over from whatever you cooked last. Instead of scrubbing it with a soapy sponge, she washes her pan with hot water and a brush. Tough plastic works well for this, as well as chain-link metal that you can use like a hand towel to wipe down the pan. After she cleans it, DeVito likes to dry her cast-iron by placing it over low heat on her gas stovetop for a few minutes. Once it’s dry, she rubs it with a quarter teaspoon of vegetable oil using a paper towel, lets it sit over low heat for a few minutes more, and then wipes off the excess oil with another dry paper towel.

While it may not fit into your regular dishwashing routine, treating cast-iron cookware correctly pays off. A well-maintained pan is tough enough to withstand super high heat, meaning you can start cooking a dish on the stove and finish it in the oven in the same pan. The iron itself will endure any type of utensil you use on it, whether it’s a wooden spoon, metal tongs, or a plastic spatula. And if you ever damage the skillet’s seasoning or allow it to rust, it can be restored without too much trouble. “Ideally, you should be able to hand it down to your kids,” DeVito says.


Cast-iron offers health benefits beyond the nutritional value of the food it cooks. The first is a healthy dose of iron added to your meals. If you have an iron deficiency, like close to 10 million people in the U.S. do, your doctor may recommend incorporating more meat, beans, and leafy greens into your diet. In addition to eating iron-rich foods, you could also try preparing more meals in a cast-iron skillet. As the metal heats up, small amounts of iron leach out and enrich your food. The is especially apparent with acidic, higher-moisture ingredients like applesauce and tomato sauce. The iron you get is definitely not enough to replace dietary iron, but it’s a nice bonus if you’re looking for more ways to sneak the nutrient into your meals.

With cast-iron, you know the only thing being added to your food is an essential mineral. Nonstick Teflon pans, on the other hand, are made from substances that aren’t safe to be eaten. (Though you don’t really need to worry about these chemicals contaminating your food unless you’re really abusing the pan.) If your cast-iron is seasoned well enough, it will produce the same nonstick effects as Teflon without the unwanted chemicals.

And that brings us to the final health benefit: Cooking with cast-iron requires less oil than conventional pans. Because oil is already baked into the cast-iron’s exterior, you don’t have to worry about meat and vegetables getting stuck to the surface. You can either add a small amount of oil or no oil at all so you don’t end up adding more fat to your dinner than necessary.


Even without the industrial strength and bonus minerals, the cast-iron skillet would still be prized by cooks for the incredible effects it has on food. This is because of the way it reacts to heat. Iron is much thicker and denser than materials like copper and aluminum, so it takes longer to heat up. But once the metal has been heated through, it packs a lot more thermal energy than most metals heated to the same temperature. All that harnessed energy is the key to achieving crisp, golden-brown sears on foods like steak, hamburger patties, eggplant, and scallops.

And just as cast-iron takes a while to get hot, it’s also slow cooling down. That means that once you’ve left your pan to sit over a raging burner or in a screaming-hot oven for long enough, you can trust it to maintain that heat, even after filling it with cold or room-temperature ingredients. The cooling effects food has on other metals is one of the most common culprits that leaves foods pale and flabby rather than brown and crunchy.

Even when a hard sear isn’t your end goal, a cast-iron skillet is often still the best tool for the job. The versatile design makes it a great option for baking, shallow-frying, and sautéeing. A few of the items DeVito likes to cook in her cast-iron include cakes, pies, cornbread, eggs, hash browns, bacon, and vegetables. “I use it for a lot of things, like reheating leftovers and improvising with whatever I have in the fridge,” she says. “You could put a lid on it and cook rice or pasta in there—you really could put almost anything in there.”


With so many desirable qualities, you may expect a cast-iron pan to rank up there with other rite-of-passage kitchen items in terms of price. But it's actually easy to find a cast-iron pan for less than other pans that don’t perform as well or last as long. Lodge, the brand DeVito recommends, has 10-inch skillets available for around $25 on Amazon. You can find fancier cast-iron pans from brands like Le Creuset selling for over $150, but when it comes to this kitchen essential, simplicity is hard to beat.


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