Set Pieces: The haunted house of ‘American Horror Story’


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Forget those ‘Paranormal Activity’ tract homes, if you can. The 1910 Los Angeles residence in FX’s ‘American Horror Story’ might be the creepiest haunted house we’ve seen in years. Thanks to the setting and to creator Ryan Murphy, who brought us ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘Glee,’ the show is twisted and addictive.

The house is in the Country Club Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, two miles south of Larchmont Village.


‘It was designed by architect Alfred Rosenheim, who was the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects, for himself and his wife and was completed in 1910 and had many modern advances for its time, including an electronic intercom system,’ production designer Mark Worthington said in an email. ‘It is currently a single family residence, though it was used for decades prior to that by a convent as a residence hall and administration building.’

Murphy was looking for a house that could be appropriately creepy but also attractive.

‘The style is quite mixed,’ Worthington said. ‘The overall design is Tudor or Collegiate Gothic. The red brick and heavy sandstone window jambs are typical of that style as is the general massiveness of the design, but the front entry porch arch is much more a renaissance detail, and the turret is something you might see more in a Victorian house -- though in wood -- or a French Provincial design. It’s a bit of a mash-up in the end, which I think contributes wonderfully to the somewhat ominous quality it has.’

‘American Horror Story,’ which airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m., revolves around the Harmon family (below, from right, Dylan McDermott, Taissa Framiga and Connie Britton), who buys a magnificent, severely discounted home only to discover it is a crime scene from hell. The interior scenes were shot on location for the pilot, then re-created on sound stages.
‘Some of the stained-glass window and light fixtures in the house are said to be Tiffany, though I don’t have any independent verification of this,’ Worthington said. ‘We did faithfully reproduce the hallway light fixtures right down to the hammered bronze -- not cheap, but worth it to preserve the look.’


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-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: FX Network