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.
1. RALPHIE’S HOME FROM A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)
Destined to become: A 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.
2. LEATHERFACE'S HOUSE FROM THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
Destined to become: A restaurant
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.
3. THE HOME FROM STEEL MAGNOLIAS (1989)
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.
4. THE DELTA HOUSE FROM ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)
Destined to become: A parking lot and commemorative plaque
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.”
5. THE PARTY HOUSE FROM THE CRAFT (1996)
Destined to become: A religious temple
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.
6. ROCKY BALBOA’S HOME FROM ROCKY (1976)
Destined to become: A tourist attraction
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.”
7. BUFFALO BILL'S HOUSE FROM THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
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 Realtor.com, 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.
8. JACKIE TREEHORN'S HOUSE FROM THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
Destined to become: LACMA's first gift of architecture
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.