VibianaApr 2nd, 2009 | By Lindsay | Category: The Hills Filming Locations
A couple of weeks ago, while spending the weekend at the Hilton Checkers Hotel, I stumbled upon a filming location I had been meaning to stalk for quite some time – a former cathedral named Vibiana located in Downtown Los Angeles. While walking back to the hotel after grabbing a Starbucks :), I saw what looked like a wedding being set up outside of a church. And I just about fell over when a woman stopped me and said “Are you here for Vibiana?” It was at that point that I realized I wasn’t standing outside of a church at all, but a filming location that had appeared on my fave show The Hills. I had actually found Vibiana’s location a few weeks back, but had yet to stalk it for some odd reason. So, I was pretty much jumping up and down with excitement when I realized what I had stumbled upon. The woman who had stopped me was extremely amused at my thrill over seeing Vibiana in person and was nice enough to let me step inside to take a peek at the former church and snap some photos.
The Cathedral of Saint Vibiana was built in 1876 by Ezra F. Kyson, the very same architect who designed the Pico House. The Baroque style church could seat 1200 parishioners, which at the time was one tenth of the city’s population. For many years St. Vibiana’s enjoyed the prestige of being the mother church cathedral parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Sadly, the building was badly damaged during 1994’s Northridge Earthquake, and since the archdiocese had since outgrown the structure, they set their sights on demolishing it to build something bigger. Thankfully, preservationists stepped in and literally stopped the wrecking ball mid-swing. After a time consuming and much heated debate between the city, the archdiocese, and preservationists, the city decided to give the archdiocese a larger piece of land in exchange for the damaged church. In 1999, the city sold the property to real estate developer Tom Gilmore, who spent the next seven years and over $8 million restoring the building to its former grandeur. Today, the former cathedral is used as an events venue, hosting everything from weddings to corporate parties. In February of 2008, former American Idol Katharine McPhee held her wedding reception at Vibiana.
And, of course, there’s also the filming! Vibiana’s showed up in two Season 3 episodes of The Hills. In the first episode, entitled “Stress and the City”, Teen Vogue intern Whitney Port is delegated the task of choosing a venue for the upcoming Young Hollywood Party. Whitney chooses the former cathedral and suggests running a long carpet down the aisle to be used as the fashion show runway and setting up photo booths in the confessionals. The following episode, entitled “Young Hollywood”, centers around Lauren and Whitney setting up for and running the Young Hollywood Party. Since the name of the church was written right across the screen in both episodes, finding this location was a snap.
The former church also showed up very briefly in a controversial scene in the pilot episode of the David Duchovny series Californication. Only the interiors of Vibiana were used for that scene, though. The exteriors were filmed about ten miles away at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
I highly recommend stalking Vibiana as it is absolutely gorgeous inside! I would so love to have a wedding there! Although the property is not currently open to the public, you can stalk the exterior and maybe someone will be nice enough to let you take a peek inside. You can also cyberstalk the building here. If you are interested in hosting an event at the former church, you can contact the events coordinator here.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Vibiana is located at 210 South Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles.