Michael’s House from “The Wonder Years”Mar 26th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
UPDATE – The Wonder Years is coming to DVD for the first time ever in October! The 26-disc boxed set includes all six seasons of the show, plus a cast reunion segment, over 15 hours of bonus footage, a collectible metal locker, two production booklets packed with behind-the-scenes information, a replica yearbook, and Wonder Years magnets. Sets can be pre-ordered here.
Fellow stalker Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, recently challenged me to find the old Victorian that Karen Arnold (Olivia d’Abo) and her boyfriend, Michael (who was played by none other than Friends’ David Schwimmer), moved into in the Season 4 episode of The Wonder Years titled “The House That Jack Built.” At the time, I had yet to hit that episode in my binge-watching of the series, so I scanned ahead and was pleasantly surprised to recognize the residence immediately. As it turns out, the home is located in South Pasadena and is one that I know quite well, due to the fact that it sat abandoned and run-down for over a decade before being fixed up. (Y’all know how much I love me some abandoned properties!) When I lived in Pasadena, I practically drove by the place on a daily basis, while on my way to and from the Harbor Freeway, and always wondered why such a beautiful dwelling had been left to deteriorate. I had even watched a music video being shot on the premises many moons ago (more on that later). For whatever reason, though, I had never blogged about the home, so I figured it was about time that I do so.
In real life, the property, which is a South Pasadena Local City Landmark, is known as the Riggins House and it was originally built in 1885. Yep, it’s currently 129 years old! The five-bedroom, two-bath, 2,778-square-foot Queen Anne-style Victorian, which sits on 0.33 acres of land, was last sold in June 2005 for $1.2 million.
I never did learn the story behind the residence or why it was left in disarray for so many years. I think it has something to do with the 710 Freeway Project, though. (In the 1960s, the state of California purchased 500-plus homes – many quite large, beautiful and historic – in what is now known as the 710 Corridor with the intention of tearing them down to build a connector road between the 210 and 710 freeways. While some of the houses were leased out, many were left vacant from that point onward. Thankfully, the freeway extension project was squashed last October and the homes are now finally, finally being returned to private ownership.) Oddly enough, I preferred the look of the place in its run-down state, most likely because it reminded me of the “Thriller” house. Unfortunately though, I do not have any photographs of it from that time period.
According to An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles, Professor Thaddeus Lowe, who was best known for founding the Mount Lowe Railway and Citizen’s Bank of Los Angeles, lived in the Riggins House while his own (much larger – we’re talking 24,000 square feet!) house was being built a couple of blocks away at 995 South Orange Grove Boulevard. That residence, which was once one of the largest homes in the entire nation, was sadly demolished between 1927 and 1928.
In The Wonder Years “The House That Jack Built” episode, Karen decides to leave her college dorm in order to move into a large home with a “roommate,” whom she fails to tell her parents is actually her new boyfriend. Both the exterior of the Riggins House . . .
. . . and the interior were shown in the episode.
The residence subsequently showed up in several Season 5 episodes of The Wonder Years, including “Dinner Out;”
and “The Wedding.”
As I mentioned above, I once watched a music video being filmed at the Riggins House – the 2003 video for the Beyoncé/Missy Elliot/MC Lyte/Free compilation song “Fighting Temptation,” which was featured on the soundtrack for Beyoncé’s then most recent movie, The Fighting Temptations. In a 2003 interview, Beyoncé stated that the Riggins House was chosen for filming because it reminded her of the Georgia-area residence where The Fighting Temptations was shot.
The interior of the Riggins House also appeared in the video.
You can watch “Fighting Temptation” by clicking below.
For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Los Angeles magazine online. And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here.
Big THANK YOU to Owen, from the When Write Is Wrong blog, for challenging me to find this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Michael’s house from The Wonder Years is located at 919 Columbia Street in South Pasadena.