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Alverno High School from “Passport to Paris”

Apr 15th, 2011 | By | Category: Movie Locations



As I promised in Tuesday’s post, here is a photograph of me dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Halloween back in 1992.  My mom made the costume for me by hand and she made it absolutely PERFECT, so I was especially excited to tell Kristy Swanson about it when I met her this past Sunday night at the Celebration of Corey Haim’s life.   And now, on with the post!  Smile


Two weekends ago I dragged the Grim Cheaper out to stalk a location that has long been at the top of my To-Stalk list – Alverno High School in Sierra Madre.  The school has appeared in hundreds upon hundreds of productions over the years, but I had been dying to stalk it for one reason and one reason only – it was one of the primary locations featured in the 1999 Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen video Passport to Paris.  Being that I was 22 years old when Passport to Paris was released and a full decade older than the flick’s targeted demographic, I can’t really explain why it was that I liked it so much.  But the truth is that, as an adult, I absolutely LOVED all of the MK & A videos and would rent them regularly from my local video store.  And yes, I know how strange that is.  😉  When in Rome and Winning London are my two favorites out of the twins’ myriad of straight-to-video movies, but Passport to Paris definitely runs a close third.  And because the vast majority of the Olsen’s movies were primarily filmed on location in exotic locales around the globe, you can imagine my excitement and surprise when I discovered that the main home used in Passport to Paris was literally right in my own backyard!

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Alverno High School was originally built as a private home for physician Walter Jarvis Barlow in 1924.  The manse was designed by legendary architect Wallace Neff and was modeled after a Tuscan-style mansion located in Tavainuzze, Italy named Villa Collazi.  Barlow dubbed his new residence Villa del Sol d’Oro, which roughly translates to Manor of the Golden Sun.  After Barlow passed away in 1942, his widow, Marion Patterson Barlow, sold the property to the Sisters of St. Francis while she promptly moved into the Huntington Hotel (now the Langham Hotel and Spa) in Pasadena, where she spent the remainder of her days.  Not too shabby of a place to spend your final years!  Anyway, for the next 18 years, Villa del Sol d’Oro was used as a novitiate – a home where nuns live during a probationary period before taking their vows.  In 1960 a high school named Alverno Heights Academy was founded on the property.  The name was later changed to Alverno High School, as it is known today.  Several buildings have since been constructed on the school grounds, but Villa del Sol d’Oro, which is a historical landmark, has thankfully been left untouched.  And while classes are not held in the actual Villa, the building is used regularly for special school events.

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Because Alverno is a working school, I did not expect to be able to get onto the property and was beyond FLOORED to discover that the side gate was standing open and several people were walking around the grounds.  One lady that I spoke with told me that she comes to the school each weekend just to walk around and appreciate the beauty of the place.  And it is not very hard to see why.  As you can see in the above photographs, Villa del Sol d’Oro is absolutely breathtaking!

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And, amazingly enough, there was a photo shoot taking place on the property when we showed up to stalk it, so all of the Villa’s doors were open.  And even though the SUPER nice staff member who was on duty at the time thought I was EXTREMELY odd for liking Passport to Paris so much, he allowed me to go inside to take a quick peek around and snap a few pictures, which I could NOT have been more excited about!


In Passport to Paris, Alverno High School stood in for the American Embassy in Paris, France, where Ambassador Edward (aka Peter White), the grandfather of Melanie “’Mel’ Porter (aka Mary-Kate Olsen) and Allyson ‘Ally’ Porter (aka Ashley Olsen), lived.  And while the exterior of the property (pictured above) shown in the flick was a building in Paris . . .

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. . .  Villa del Sol d’Oro was used for all of the interior scenes.


I am fairly certain that the girls’ bedroom in the movie was also located at Villa del Sol d’Oro, but because I did not get to see the upstairs portion of the property I am not able to verify that.

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In 1992’s Poison Ivy, Villa del Sol d’Oro was the high school that Ivy (aka Drew Barrymore) and Sylvie (aka Sara Gilbert) attended.

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Alverno High School also appeared at the very beginning of 1996’s Executive Decision as a Chechen Mafia safehouse supposedly located just outside of Trieste, Italy.

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In Legally Blonde, Alverno stood in for the Delta Nu sorority house where Elle Woods (aka Reese Witherspoon) and her “sisters” lived.

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And while a private home in San Francisco, which I blogged about back in April of 2008, stood in for the exterior of the San Francisco-area Anthony P. Grove High School in 2001’s The Princess Diaries, Alverno’s courtyard was used for all of the courtyard scenes in the movie.

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It was the convent where Christina Crawford (aka Diana Scarwid) was sent to live in the 1981 movie Mommie Dearest.

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In 1995’s A Walk in the Clouds, the interior of Villa del Sol d’Oro stood in for the interior of the Las Nubes vineyard home where the family of Victoria Aragon (aka Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) lived.

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The Villa was used as the Los Angeles Visitor Security Headquarters in the 1984 television mini-series  V: The Final Battle.

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Although they changed the property’s exterior gate for that production quite a bit.  LOL  I just about died laughing when I scanned through V and saw the above-pictured pseudo-space-age electronic gate.  Could it be any more ‘80s?

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The Villa’s actual gate is pictured above.

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The Villa was also the site of Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour’s wedding reception in the Gun ‘N Roses “November Rain” music video . . .

November Rain–Villa del Sol d’Oro

. . . which you can watch by clicking above.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Alverno High School, from Passport to Paris, is located at 200 North Michillinda Avenue in Sierra Madre.  We entered the school via its Wilson Street gate.  Please remember that Alverno High School is an active learning institution and you should not trespass or visit the grounds during school hours.  You can visit Alverno’s official website here.



Leave a comment »

  1. Aurora Knight says:

    I watched Passport to Paris a lot and I didn’t realize that the mansion scenes were shot at Alverno High School. It’s like the Olsen Twins and the cast involved in the making of the 1999 movie were at two places at once. Both in Paris and in Sierra Madre, CA.

  2. MaryE says:

    Father Damian was filmed there, and I met Peter Strauss while eating lunch. Also, Steven Shortridge from Welcome Back Kotter is in one of my yearbooks in 1977-81, and Shirley Jones also filmed there. In addition, there was an episode from Man from Atlantis with Patrick Dufffy.

  3. Trina Alexander says:

    Hey there, isn’t this also the 90210 location for professor Finley’s cult that Kelly is involved with?

  4. Owen says:

    When MLB and NBA games were in commercials simultaneously last night, I did some channel surfing and came across a 2002 movie starring Kiefer Sutherland that I’d never seen called “Desert Saints.” I just happened to tune in right when they showed Alverno High, one of the places I visited on my lone trip to L.A. in 2008. I recognized it immediately. I can’t believe you failed to reference this classic in your post. 😉

  5. Martha says:

    I was there in the 90s. I remember being at volleyball practice and seeing Michael J. Fox. Any idea what he filmed there? Also, Mel Gibson & Johnny Depp. Nothing comes up on Google, but many years later I’m curious.

  6. Ann says:

    I was a student there in the ’80s and enjoyed coming across your website. I remember “V” being filmed and all of us girls sitting out on the lawn eating our lunch watching the off-duty aliens meandering around the grounds. I also remember an episode of Knight Rider being filmed there, the car parked near the villa, wish I could find that episode!

  7. sally shoaf says:

    I was in the 5th graduating class of ALverno, ( known as Alverno Heights Academy at the time ) ….thanks for the great photos of the villa….it is quite remarkable building ….and the grounds that 13 acres, are lovely also …..

    and the only thing you missed a close up of was the fabulous wrought iron dragons on the entryway fan over the side door…..went to school there for 4 years and didn’t notice them until about 5 years ago while showing the school to a friend ….you’re standing right under them in the first photo…..and they are slightly visible, but you can’t tell what they are ….

    …and the biggest excitement of our senior year , forget whether it was in 67 or 68, but Paul Newman spent most of a week there making probably his only flop “The Secret War of Private Frigg” and the villa played a villa in Italy during the war, where the Axis was hilding 4 , 4 star generals one from each branch of the services, and Newman was sent in to help them escape….

    He actually came over to the school area, and gave a little speech to the 500 ( we were biger in those days) girls sitting agog on the ground …,,being a senoir, I was in the front row, and yes his eyes were really that blue !….

    thanks again for the shots….oh and most of the extra outbuildings there, except for the school buildings of course, were the cottages of the live in help….sweet little tile roofed cottages built at the same time as the villa

  8. Melissa says:

    Good find!! Love the Olsen Twins!!!!

  9. lavonna says:

    Great post…my daughter loved MK&A..has all the movies!

  10. Erin says:

    The shots of the long lawn with the trees on either side seem really familiar…. I feel like I’ve seen it in a wedding scene of a movie, or music video…? It’s gonna bug me until I work it out.

  11. Lorelai says:

    Because Legally Blonde is one of my absolute favourite movies, I can tell immediately when this location is used in other films. I think it was also used in one of the god-awful Bring It On sequels, as well as the house Professor Finley and his brainwashed students (including Kelly) used as their headquarters in the 5th season of 90210. God, I’m sad for knowing that.

    • Lindsay says:

      Kent – that is definitely the place!!! So cool! I have never seen “No Place to Hide” – I will have to rent it now. 🙂 Thanks for the info!
      Happy Stalking :),

  12. Kent says:

    Awesome post. I’m a Drew fan as well. Poison Ivy is my fav! I’m wondering if this location was also used for the movie “No Place To Hide” which Drew starred with Kris Kristopherson. Drew’s character stays with nuns for protection and this looks like the location, particularly in 2 of your photos:

    This looks like the scene where Drew comes down the stars to talk to Kris’s character asking if she can stay with him for good:
    This shot looks like the final fight scene where Kris’s character comes back to save Drew’s character:

  13. Ashley says:

    OMG! So obviously I commented on your Buffy costume before reading the post – it’s the Poison Ivy high school!!!! I’ve been really wondering about this place but since so little is shown in the movie, I never thought to ask you. Lindsay, you’re amazing!

  14. Ashley says:

    How funky is your chicken! WOW!!! What a perfectly done costume, it’s spot on! Your mom is amazing 😀 I would’ve died of jealousy back in 6th grade, haha.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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