Sometimes a house plays such a pivotal role in the plot of a film that it becomes the movie's central character—so much so that you wouldn't be able to imagine the movie without it. Where would the Home Alone movies be without that sled-able staircase? Would National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation have been as funny if Clark Griswold had struggled to put up Christmas lights on a condo? Occasionally, a movie home is so unique that it steals the show and becomes one of the best parts of the film. Take The Lake House, for example. The 2006 film was panned by critics as a “romantic bit of nonsense.” But the movie’s floor-to-ceiling glass house with the water views? It was all anyone wanted to talk about.
That’s part of the reason it can disheartening to learn that many of Hollywood’s most iconic movie houses are little more than a façade; an empty shell—often quite literally. As is often the case, if the houses aren’t built as exteriors on a studio back lot, then they’re hastily constructed in remote locations (read: not built to code) and must be torn down post-production.
The following are 10 famous film houses that exist in real life and 10 that (sadly) only exist on screen.
20 The Colonial of Ferris Bueller...Bueller?...Bueller!? (real!)
According to the movie, Ferris Bueller’s traditional Colonial family home was located in the Chicago Suburbs. But fans planning on looking for it there may have to pull a Ferris Bueller and call in sick from school (or work), because the real Ferris Bueller casa is located a 29-hour car ride away—in Long Beach, California.
The 1920s house that served as the Bueller Residence has seven bedrooms and five bedrooms. No wonder Ferris didn’t want to go to school—With a 4,900-square foot house to lounge around in, who could blame him?
19 The Mrs. Doubtfire Victorian (real!) - Dude Looks Like a (Painted) Lady
Fans of Robin Williams won’t have a problem finding the home used for the filming of his 1993 family flick Mrs. Doubtfire. That’s because Sally Field’s character, Miranda, gave away the home's real address in one of the scenes in the film! Oops. Located on “2640 Steiner" in San Francisco, the house has become a popular tourist attraction for its Pacific Heights neighborhood. Several other Silver Screen dwellings—The Tanner Residence (from the TV Show Full House) and the colorful "Painted Ladies" are located nearby.
Though the exterior is readily recognizable, some of the interiors are not. A number of the shots of the inside of the house were filmed on a set.
18 The Father of the Bride House (real!) - Here comes the bride...and Steve Martin
Fans of Father of the Bride will likely recognize the exterior of this 1920s Colonial as the Banks’ idealic family home. Much of the house remains the same as it did during filming—from the driveway where George (Steve Martin) and his daughter Annie shot hoops to the backyard where Annie and her husband were married. The arbor created for the movie’s wedding scene still sits in the backyard.
Both Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II were filmed in the Alhambra, California house. The home was last listed at $2 million.
17 The Home Alone Hideaway (real!) - no robbers in sight!
90s children the world-over likely have a soft-spot in their hearts for the Home Alone franchise, and that includes the McCallister Residence, located in Winnetka, Illinois. Built in the 1920s, the red-brick Georgian home became a neighborhood celebrity after it played host to McCully Culkin, his traps and the “Wet Bandit” burglars.
Fans hoping to one day sleep in Kevin’s attic suite, hang Michael Jackson cutouts in the windows or slide down the staircase bannister may have to save more than a Piggy Bank’s worth of change. In 2012, the relic from Hollywood History sold for $1.585 million.
16 The Sleepless in Seattle Houseboat (real!) - Sleep here for $2 million
Sleepless in Seattle was the 1993 romantic drama that introduced many audience members to the idea of a living on a houseboat. Moviegoers will be delighted to know that the marina houseboat that Sam and Jonah called home exists in real life and is located in Seattle’s Lake Union Neighborhood. The interior of the house, however, looks nothing like it does in the movie, as the home’s interior shots were filmed on set.
The concept of the houseboat was born out of the Great Depression, when blue-collar laborers in the Seattle area built or moved into tax-free houseboats in order to save on the cost of housing. Ironically, homes in this once low-income house boat community now sell for millions of dollars. The 2,200-square-foot, four bedroom/two bathroom houseboat featured in the movie reportedly sold for $2 million in 2014.
15 The Notebook Southern Charmer (real!) - But Ryan Gosling doesn't live here.
The old house that Ryan Gosling's character Noah helps fix it up in The Notebook is a private residence, located in South Carolina, on Martin’s Point Plantation on Wadmala Island. Though the house was made to look rundown at the beginning of the film, that was just Hollywood magic at work. While the real house is old—it was built in 1772—the historic relic is in pristine shape. It looks very similar to the way it did after it undergoes a transformation in the film—minus the blue shutters (sorry, Allie).
14 The Under the Tuscan Sun Villa (real!) - Fame hasn't changed much
In the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, Diane Lane’s character impulsively purchases an Italian villa. While the producers could have easily recreated the old romantic abode in Hollywood, they chose to locate the production in a real Italian villa—Villa Laura in Cortona, Tuscany. Unlike other houses on this list, Villa Laura looks almost exactly as it did in the film. Production crews altered very little prior to filming, wishing to keep the home as authentic-looking as possible.
Visitors to Tuscany can rent this 17th century estate by the week. The Villa includes a farmhouse, wine cellar and pool.
13 The Beaches House (real!) - Bette Midler was here
In the Bette Midler 1988 tearjerker, Beaches, Cecilia (played by Bette) and her best friend Hillary, played by Barbara Hershey, spend a portion of the film at Hill’s beach house, which audience members are lead to believe is located somewhere on the East Coast, near Coney Island.
The actual beach cottage, however, is located in Crystal Cove, California, where it is undergoing renovations and will soon be made into a film museum. Beaches’ fans can still visit the house, however, and even sit on the patio and play cards, just like C.C. and Hillary did in the film.
12 The Poltergeist House (real!) - "They're heeeere!"
In the frightening 80s film Poltergeist, the Freeling family is terrorized by ghosts after they move into a house that, unbeknownst to them, had been built on top of a cemetery.
The movie was set and filmed in Simi, Valley, California, and while the ghosts may have been fake, the house was very much real. Scary movie fanatics can visit the house where little Carol Anne was sucked into a TV and her brother Robbie was almost swallowed by a tree, as the house still exists today on 4267 Roxbury Street.
11 A Christmas Story House (real!) - Make Yourself at Home (No, Really)
No movie house on this list has better capitalized on its Tinsel Town fame than the house from the 1983 classic A Christmas Story. Not only can movie buffs take a tour of both the outside and the inside of Ralphie Parker’s house, but they stay the night, too. The house even has its own museum and gift shop which displays the film's original props and costumes. The house is located at 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, OH—Just look for the fishnet stockinged “leg lamp” in the window.
10 The Jumanji House (Set) - It was all just a game
In the movie Jumanji, the Parish Home is nearly destroyed by a monsoon, monkeys, a lion and other fantastical creatures unleashed by a mysterious board game. At one point, the house was even split in half. Design and architecture fans need not worry, however. The gorgeous neoclassical colonial mansion pictured in the film, with its vaulted ceilings, winding staircases and marble columned foyer, wasn’t harmed during filming. It wasn’t harmed because it didn’t exist.
The Parish Home was a set built in a vacant lot in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada and was taken down after filming. Now a real house sits its place.
9 The Lake House Dream Home (Set) - Even Sandra Bullock couldn't save it
A central character in the Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves romantic drama The Lake House is the stunning home where much of the movie is filmed. Keanu Reeves plays an architect in the film and so the production’s location scouts knew it was an important they find a house that was not only beautiful, but structurally unique.
After visiting lakefront homes in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois and coming up short, however, it was decided that the production would construct the house themselves on Maple Lake in Willow Springs, Illinois. Made nearly entirely of glass, the house offered front row views of the water and surrounding forest, and featured a giant maple tree sprouting through the center of it.
Sandra Bullock reportedly expressed an interest in keeping the house as a vacation home—and possibly moving it to another location—but the production crew had promised the county they’d tear it down as soon as filming had finished.
8 The Beetlejuice House (set) - Saying "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!" won't bring this house to life
Sadly, there’s no wishing Adam and Barbara Maitland’s towering old-fashioned home into existence, no matter how many times you call “Beattlejuice, Beatttlejuice, Beattlejuice!” The house was merely a façade; constructed for the movie and then later destroyed.
Though Tim Burton’s quirky ghost story was set in Connecticut, it was actually filmed Vermont. The oversized country home was constructed on a hill overlooking the real-life village of East Corinth.
The inside of the house was also faked—the work of talented set designers on a soundstage in Culver City, California.
7 Forrest Gump (set) - Run (away) Forrest! This house was torn down
After Forest Gump was released, fans journeyed to Alabama in hopes of spotting some of the film’s iconic filming locations, including Forest Gump’s gorgeous, sprawling childhood home.
Most of the film was shot in South Carolina, however, save for the bus stop scenes, which were filmed in Savannah, Georgia. The Gump family’s home was built on the Bluff Plantation between the towns of Varnville and Beaufort, South Carolina.
Fans hoping to eat chocolates on Gump's wraparound porch or swing with Jenny at the tree out front will likely be disappointed. The beautiful Southern home was torn down upon the film’s completion.
6 The Holiday Cottage (set) - Cameron Diaz won't be going on holiday here
Moviegoers were smitten the first time they laid eyes on the charming English country cottage in the film The Holiday. Just like Cameron Diaz’s character in the film, everyone clamored to book a weeklong holiday at the adorable cozy cottage that looked like it’d been transported from a snow globe.
But everything about the English cottage was fake—from the old stone wall to the giant tree out front to the house itself. Even the snow was fake! Though the house may have looked like it was as much part of the English countryside as the rolling hills and cobble-stoned town, the house was built in just two weeks—in the middle of an empty field.
5 The Practical Magic Mansion (set) - It's practically fake
Practical Magic starred two of the 90s biggest Hollywood stars—Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. The real star of this film about a family of witches, however, was the sisters’ bewitching New England-style mansion.
The house was such a hit with audiences that Barbra Streisand reportedly called the director and requested to purchase it. Unfortunately for Babs, the house was just a set piece—an exterior shell constructed in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in Washington State. It was demolished after filming was complete.
4 The What Lies Beneath House (set) - Nothin lies beneath because this house isn't real
When deliberating on which house would serve as the haunted mansion in the Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeifer ghost thriller What Lies Beneath, production designers knew they needed a house that would resemble a dream house during the day, but a spooky and foreboding fright-fest at night.
The result was a 3,500-square-foot Nantucket-style home, which production crews constructed on the picturesque Lake Champlain in Addison, Vermont. At night, the gray, ivy walled exterior with the spiked terrace became the perfect setting for a scary story.
Unfortunately (fortunately?), the house was removed after filming—Though no word on the ghosts.
3 The "Psycho House" (set) - Home of a Hitchcock Masterpiece, and then some
The Bates Mansion, aka “the Psycho house,” was constructed in 1959 for the film Psycho. Since then, the house has been used repeatedly in Hollywood productions, such as Big Momma’s House and more. While the house is a set piece—only the exterior of the house exists—fans can still visit it at Universal Studios.
A number of the movie's fans have petitioned to help "Save the Psycho House." Though there are no reported plans to tear it down, the house is in disrepair and in need of refurbishing.
2 The Griswold's House (set) - No Christmas vacations happening here
The Griswold Family home that Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold so painstakingly decorated with Christmas lights was actually two homes built on two different sets.
Scenes shot in the interior of the house—including the famous “squirrel in the Christmas tree” scene—were filmed on a set at Warner Brothers Studios while the exterior shots of the house were filmed in the studio’s back lot.
Fans can visit the shell of the Griswold house as well as the house of their next-door neighbors (Todd and Margo) on “Blondie Street” on the Warners Brothers back lot. Because both films were used in other movies, however, they’ve undergone renovations. Any trace of the kookie Griswold fam has long been removed.
1 The Gone with the Wind House (set) - This house has been "gone" since the 1950s
The story behind the gorgeous plantation home featured in the American classic Gone with the Wind is a sad one for Scarlett O'Hara fans. The house's exterior has gone with the wind (or at least gone into someone's garage).
As the story goes, the house was originally created in a back lot in Culver City, California. Production crews created two exterior shells and even at times used a painting of the house as a stand-in (hey, it was the 30s). The house remained in the studio lot until the 1950s when it was sold to a person who'd planned on staging it in an amusement park. Well, the park never opened and the Gone with the Wind House was left to collect dust in a storage facility.
Sources: Hookedonhouses.net, CBS News, The Chicago Tribune, Wikipedia