The Incorrectly Identified “Leave It to Beaver” HouseSep 6th, 2012 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
Last week, the latest issue of Los Angeles Magazine arrived in my mailbox and I, of course, tore the thing right open and devoured it in one sitting, as I do pretty much every month. Particularly fascinating was a feature titled “Affairs of Estate” about three unique communities in L.A., one of which – Lafayette Square – piqued my interest. In a sidebar, author Ann Herold listed four of the neighborhood’s most famous houses, most notably “the dormered two-story at 1727 Buckingham” which, she stated, was “home base for the Cleavers in the Leave It to Beaver pilot”. Well, believe you me, I was extremely excited upon learning this news and not only added the address to my To-Stalk list, but dragged the Grim Cheaper right on over there this past weekend. As I discovered after I returned home, though, the article’s information was actually incorrect and, from what I can tell, the Lafayette Square property has no connection whatsoever to the iconic 1957 television series.
Lafayette Square, which, prior to the “Affairs of Estate” article, I had been unaware of, is comprised of 236 stately homes situated on ten small blocks and was originally developed by banker George L. Crenshaw in 1913. The community was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, the famed military officer who served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Several of Los Angeles’ most-prominent citizens have lived in the upscale neighborhood, where the average home measures 3,600 square feet, including industrialist Norton Simon, boxer Joe Lewis and ill-fated actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. And while, as you can see below, portions of the place do indeed resemble a studio backlot, the area was not actually the site of the filming of the pilot episode of Leave It to Beaver.
Leave It to Beaver actually had two pilots. The first, titled “It’s a Small World”, aired on April 23rd, 1957 as a segment of the anthology show Heinz Studio 57, but was never shown as a part of the actual Leave It to Beaver series. “It’s a Small World” was aired once again in October 2007 during TV Land’s 50th anniversary celebration of LITB and was also released in 2005 on the Leave It to Beaver: The Complete First Season DVD set. The house featured as the Cleaver residence in that pilot is pictured below and, as you can see, it bears no resemblance to the property located at 1727 Buckingham Road, which is also pictured below. After doing a little digging online, I discovered (thanks to the RetroWeb website) that the LITB pilot house was actually a façade located on the Republic Studios (now CBS Studio Center) backlot. (You can see an aerial photograph of the façade if you scroll down to the “Flashback to the Cleavers’ Original ‘Neighborhood’” section of the RetroWeb post.)
No establishing shot of the Cleaver residence was shown in Leave It to Beaver’s actual pilot, which aired on October 4th, 1957 and was titled “Beaver Gets ‘Spelled’”. Interestingly enough, though, that episode was not intended to be the pilot, but was filmed as the third in the series. The intended pilot, titled “Captain Jack”, was held up by the censor’s office due to the fact that there was a scene featuring a toilet tank. How taboo! “Captain Jack” did eventually pass the censor’s office and wound up airing as the second episode of Season 1 on October 11th, 1957. In it (and all subsequent Season 1 and 2 episodes), the house below, which was said to be located at 485 Maple Drive in the fictional city of Mayfield, served as the Cleaver residence. According to The Studio Tour website (which provides a fabulous history of the Cleaver home), this property was also just a façade that was once located on the Republic Studios backlot. As you can see, though, it, too, bears no resemblance to the Buckingham Road house.
In between Seasons 2 and 3, filming of Leave It to Beaver moved from Republic Studios to Universal Studios and the Cleaver family, in turn, moved into a new house – the house pictured below, which was (and still is) a façade located on the Universal Studios backlot. On the series, the new residence was purported to be located at 211 Pine Street in Mayfield. And while some have speculated that the façade (which was originally constructed for the filming of the 1955 Humphrey Bogart thriller The Desperate Hours) was modeled after the real life Buckingham Road house, being that the resemblance between the two is rather fleeting, I doubt that to be the case. How the Lafayette Square home came to be connected to Leave It to Beaver is anyone’s guess, but the rumors apparently date all the way back to 1991. And in case anyone is wondering if the Buckingham Road home might possibly have been used in the subsequent Still the Beaver made-for-television movie, The New Leave It to Beaver TV series or the 1997 Leave It to Beaver movie, according to The Studio Tour website, all three productions used facades at Universal Studios.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The incorrectly identified Leave It To Beaver house is located at 1727 Buckingham Road in the Lafayette Square section of Los Angeles.