The “Beaches” MansionSep 15th, 2011 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
One location that I have been asked about repeatedly ever since I first started my blog almost four years ago (and I CANNOT even believe that it has been that long!!!) is the large Tudor-style mansion where Hillary Whitney Essex (aka Barbara Hershey) lived in the 1988 tearjerker Beaches. And while it had long been noted on various websites that the property was located somewhere in the Pasadena area, try as I might, I just could not seem to track the place down. Then this past January a fellow stalker named Alain who lives in France emailed me to ask about a mansion that had appeared in the Season 7 episode of Columbo titled “Try and Catch Me”. He mentioned that the same estate had also been used in Beaches. I explained to Alain that I had been trying to find that particular home for years, but had had absolutely no luck. Flash forward 9 months to this past Tuesday afternoon when I received another email from Alain, this one announcing that he had found the property! Whoo-hoo! How he managed to locate it while living thousands of miles away in France, when I failed to do so while living right here in Pasadena, is absolutely beyond me! My hat is most-definitely off to you, Alain!
So I, of course, ran right out to stalk the place early Wednesday morning. Sadly though, as you can see above, hardly any of the property is visible from the street.
But, as I have said before, that is why God created aerial views. In real life, the 7,479-square-foot, 8-bedroom, 4-bath home, which was built in 1916 by the noted Pasadena architecture firm Marston & Van Pelt (who also designed the Twins mansion), is known as the S. S. Hinds Estate. The property was named for one of its original owners, actor Samuel S. Hinds, who is best known for playing Peter Bailey, George Bailey’s (aka James Stewart’s) father, in the 1946 classic It’s A Wonderful Life. According to my buddy E.J. over at The Movieland Directory, Hinds lived in the home from the 1920s until the 1940s. Ironically enough, Hinds was originally a very prominent attorney who lost his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. He was able to keep his Pasadena manse during that difficult time by renting it out to various boarders. Finding himself destitute at the age of 54, he decided to abandon law and try his hand at acting and it was not long before Hollywood came a’callin’. Hinds went on to star in over 200 films before his death in 1948.
In Beaches, the S.S Hinds Estate stood in for the supposed Atherton-area residence where Hillary lived both as a child and an adult.
The house’s front gate was used quite prominently in the movie in the scenes in which Hillary checked her mailbox in anticipation of receiving letters from her lifelong best friend, Cecilia “CC” Carol Bloom (aka Bette Midler).
And while the gate is thankfully visible from the street and still looks EXACTLY the same today as it did in 1988 when Beaches was filmed, sadly, as you can see above, Hillary’s mailbox is not there in real life. I am guessing that it was just a set piece that was brought in solely for the filming.
The real life interior of the property was also used in the flick.
Thanks to fave website OnLocationVacations, I learned that the Season 3 episode of Mad Men titled “My Old Kentucky Home” was also filmed at the S.S. Hinds Estate. In the episode, the property stood in for the country club where Roger Sterling (aka John Slattery) and Jane Siegel (aka Peyton List) hosted their Kentucky Derby party.
As you can see in the screen captures above, one of the hallways that appeared in Beaches was also used in Mad Men as the spot where Betty Draper (aka January Jones) first met Henry Francis (aka Christopher Stanley).
I am fairly certain, though, that the club’s bar, where Don Draper (aka Jon Hamm) spent most of his evening, is not actually located inside of the Hinds Estate, but is a real life bar somewhere in Los Angeles.
And again thanks to OnLocationVacations, I also learned that the estate was used as the Turnbill Mansion, which Leslie Knope (aka Amy Poehler) fought to save, in the Season 2 episode of Parks & Recreation titled “94 Meetings”.
Amazingly, the very same hallway that appeared in both Mad Men and Beaches was also featured in Parks and Recreation.
As was the stairway from Beaches.
And the front gate, which Leslie Knopes barricaded herself to, thinking it opened in the middle, on Parks and Recreation. LOL
A large painting of the mansion was created for the filming of Parks and Recreation, as well. Being that I doubt the painting would ever be used again on the series, I am wondering if the owners of the Hinds Estate got to keep it. So cool if they did!
Unfortunately, I was not able to find a copy of the Columbo “Try and Catch Me” episode anywhere, so I could not make screen captures of the Hinds Estate’s appearance in it for this post.
Big THANK YOU to fellow stalker Alain for telling me about this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The Beaches mansion is located at 880 La Loma Road in Pasadena.