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“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” House

May 7th, 2010 | By | Category: TV Locations

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Well, after three days and a whopping (insert sarcasm here) three tests (including a blood test, an ultra-sound, and a CAT scan, each of which my dad has undergone numerous times with his doctors at home over the past two years), we have been discharged from the Mayo Clinic sans diagnosis.  The doctor’s sole recommendation was to see a pain specialist back in L.A.  UGH!  Would Dr. House have given up so easily?  I don’t think so!  Oh, if only the real world was like T.V.!  Anyway, we are heading back to Minneapolis tomorrow (where I will hopefully get to do a bit more stalking) and then we are flying to Los Angeles on Saturday morning.  As I said yesterday, though, our trip wasn’t a total waste – we had a blast in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Stillwater.  So, now, on with the stalking!  Another Minneapolis filming location that fellow stalker Owen clued me onto was the apartment house where Mary Richards lived during the first five seasons of the iconic television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  And, even though I have yet to watch even one episode of the show, as I mentioned yesterday, I just had to stalk the place because of its huge significance in television history.  On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary supposedly lived in Unit D of a large apartment house located at 119 North Weatherly Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  And, while the show was filmed primarily in the Hollywood area, all of the exteriors were shot on location in the Great Lake State.  The series was created by producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns in 1970 and the two included a highly-detailed description of their leading lady’s studio apartment in the original treatment of the pilot script.  As you can see on fave website Hooked on Houses, where a copy of that script is posted, Mary’s apartment was originally described as “A room.  Actually an entire apartment, but a single large room.  There are some – mostly of the working-girl variety – who would consider this place a “great find”: ten-foot ceilings, pegged wood floors, a wood-burning fireplace, and, most important, a fantastic ceiling-height corner window.”  Location scouts found that window – and the incredibly picturesque house to which it belonged – near the Lake of the Isles on Kenwood Parkway in Minneapolis.  And, although actress Mary Tyler Moore never actually set foot inside of the residence, production designers did, whereupon they painstakingly measured and photographed the now-famous third-floor window so that it could be replicated on a soundstage at CBS Studios.  And, thus, one of the most well-known sets in television history was born.

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As the television series grew in popularity, so did Mary’s Queen Anne-style residence.  The “Mary Tyler Moore house”, as it soon came to be called, became an almost immediate tourist attraction, overwhelming and angering the then-owner.  According to journalist Neal Karlen’s January 12, 1995 New York Times article about the property, actress Mary Tyler Moore stated that the woman who owned the place during the time the show was being filmed, “was overwhelmed by people showing up and asking if Mary was around.”  Oh, to have such a problem!  😉  To prohibit location managers from shooting additional exterior footage of her home, the owner hung huge signs reading “Impeach Nixon” all over the property in 1973.  It was at that point that producers decided to move Mary Richards to a new dwelling – a one-bedroom apartment in the Riverside Towers complex in Downtown Minneapolis.  But that didn’t stop Mary’s former house from being a major tourist destination.  As of 1995, it was still drawing as many as THIRTY tour buses A DAY, even though The Mary Tyler Moore Show had been off the air for close to two decades!  But as Mary Tyler Moore herself said, “The outside of the house was so warm, cozy and soothing.  As the nest of all these characters who invaded people’s hearts, the house was going to receive similar affection.”  And it still does today, over thirty years later.

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The house, which was built in 1878 and was designed by architect Edward Stebbins, originally boasted 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, and 6,461 square feet of living space.  The dwelling was converted into an apartment home, much like it was portrayed to be on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for a short time, but was transformed back into a single-family residence sometime before the year 1988, at which time the property was purchased by Evan Maurer, the then-director of the Minneapolis Art Institute.  Evan and his wife, Naomi, at first regretted the purchase of the home due to the amount of attention it attracted, but in time they came to understand the appeal.  Years later Evan said, “In some ways, it’s like we’re caretakers living inside a monument.  Mary is a myth, but myths have great power. They answer questions, and they set up value systems. There’s something in the Mary ethos that’s very important to very many people. She’s the greatest mythic hero from this region since Paul Bunyan.”  Evan also called the house “Minnesota’s version of Graceland”.  Love it!

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In 2005, a high school English teacher named Don Gerlach purchased the property from the Maurers for $1.1 million and gave the entire pad an extensive makeover and a significant add-on with the hopes that he would be able to flip it for a profit in a little over a year’s time.  Which is exactly what he did.  In August of 2007, Don sold the home, which currently boasts 8 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, a crafts room, a billiards room, an exercise room, nanny’s quarters, and a whopping 9,161 square feet of living space, for $2.8 million.  During the renovation, the size of the kitchen was quadrupled and it now features four ovens, two refrigerators, two dishwashers, and a five-foot wide stovetop!  Not kidding!  Honestly, who needs a kitchen with TWO refrigerators and FOUR ovens???  My parents have two ovens at their house and I must say that they do come in handy on Thanksgiving, but FOUR ovens?  Really?  The new owners must do a heck of a lot of entertaining!  😉  You can watch a news report about the house which was filmed in 2006 here and you can see some great interior pics of the current interior on fave website Hooked on Houses here.

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On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Richards’ apartment was located behind the third-story Palladian windows pictured above.  At the time the show was filmed, the area behind that window was, in actuality, just an unfinished attic.  Today, it houses a media room, which the owners call the “Mary Tyler Moore Suite”.  Love it!

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The interior of Mary’s studio, which is pictured above, only ever existed, of course, on a soundstage in Hollywood.

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The Kenwood neighborhood, where The Mary Tyler Moore house is located, is an absolutely beautiful area comprised of huge, picturesque houses with large, rolling front lawns . . .

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. . . all situated around the gorgeous, tree-lined Lake of the Isles which boasts beautiful views of Downtown Minneapolis.  I would LOVE to live there!

Big THANK YOU to Owen for telling me about this location!  :)

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: Mary Richard’s apartment house from The Mary Tyler Moore Show is located at 2104 Kenwood Parkway, in the Kenwood area of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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11 comments

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  1. Chuck Clough says:

    I lived in Minneapolis for fifteen years (1988-2002), and as a huge fan of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I would often walk over on nice days to head around the Lake of the Isles. Thankfully, Mary didn’t get knocked over by the joggers, but I almost did once! Then I’d wander over to W. 21st and Kenwood to admire that beautiful Victorian home. A real-life connection to one of the best shows ever on television. I just hope the Bachmanns don’t live there now…lol. We love you, Mary!

  2. JR says:

    I noticed in the later shows another house was used for outside scenes. This house was a 2 story house that had similar upstairs windows on the 2nd floor (where Mary supposedly lived). and also had a kind of attic like 3rd floor to the right of the house ( where Rhoda supposedly lived) I think this house was more realistic. The original house had no upper floor (Rhoda’s Place) over Mary’s place.Does anyone know where that house is?

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank goodness someone else noticed that, too. It’s from later on in the series and you’re right, the facade makes much more sense as it shows a whole new area for Rhoda’s window to appear.

  3. How fun! I would love to see the house in person someday. It’s such a gorgeous old house, and I’m a big fan of the show. I used to watch the reruns on TV after school. Like lots of little girls, I wanted to have an apartment just like Mary’s when I grew up (still waiting).

    P.S. Thanks for the shout-out. Lovin’ your blog, as always! :)

  4. lisa says:

    I did the whole MTM tour a couple years ago. I loved it! Thanks for reminding me.

  5. Owen says:

    The setting: 2104 Kenwood Parkway in Minneapolis. The time: Anytime.

    Knock, knock. Owner opens door. “May I help you?” Stranger asks, “Is Mary around?”

    Sigh. Why are people so dumb? If I were the owner I’d be annoyed, too. It’s not real, people! It’s a TV show! Why don’t you go home and dial 867-5309 and see if Jenny answers?!

  6. Tony says:

    One word…Fantastic!

  7. Lavonna says:

    Great Post! Loved this show and the spin-offs…Rhoda and Phyllis:)


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  2. […] 1975, after the real-life owner of The Mary Tyler Moore Show house put a big, fat ixnay on letting the series do any more filming on her property, producers decided […]

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