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South Fork Inn from “Revenge”

Jan 26th, 2015 | By | Category: TV Locations

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Finding today’s location had me feeling like a complete moron.  Though my obsession with Revenge has waned in recent months (I have only watched three episodes from the current season), I remained hell-bent on tracking down the Colonial-style structure used in establishing shots of the South Fork Inn on the series.  I figured the location was most likely a private home and scoured the internet for months looking for it, all to no avail.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I decided to once again try my hand at finding it and proceeded to search through every location database that I knew of, comparing the Colonial-style homes listed with screen captures from the show.  I found the right spot fairly quickly and could not believe my eyes once I did.  Turns out the location is well-known to me – it was featured regularly and prominently on my favorite TV show of all time, Beverly Hills, 90210.  South Fork Inn is none other than the Marion Davies Guest House at the Annenberg Community Beach House, aka the former Sand & Sea Club, aka the very same spot that stood in for the Beverly Hills Beach Club on 90210.  (Insert facepalm here.)  Granted, the property has changed quite a bit since 90210 filmed on the premises, but still, how I did not recognize it is beyond me.

The five-acre beachfront property, which was originally known as Ocean House, was constructed in 1928 at a cost of $3.5 million for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, Marion Davies.  The lavish compound was designed in the Georgian Colonial-style by architects Julia Morgan and William Flannery.  The site was comprised of a three-story main house featuring 55 bathrooms, 37 fireplaces, a theatre, a ballroom and a basement pub.  The property also boasted three detached guest houses, as well as servants quarters, dog kennels, tennis courts, and two swimming pools.  (Flannery designed the main estate, while Morgan was responsible for the pool, guest houses and other detached structures, as well as all interiors.)  The parties held at the compound during Hearst and Davies’ tenure there were legendary and often included guest lists numbering in the thousands.  Such luminaries as Howard Hughes, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Winston Churchill, and Gloria Swanson all spent time at the massive estate at one time or another.

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Hearst and Davies vacated the mansion in 1946 in order to move to Beverly Hills.  The couple took quite a loss on the place, selling it to a man named Joseph Drown for a measly $600,000.  Drown immediately transformed the site into a hotel named Oceanhouse and a beach club named the Sand & Sea Club.  The hotel was never a huge success, though, and in 1956, Drown had the main house and many of the original structures demolished.  He then added three new buildings to the premises and continued to operate the property as the Sand & Sea Club.

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For reasons that are a bit hazy, the land where the Sand & Seas Club stood was acquired by the State of California in 1959.  The state in turn handed management of the land over to the City of Santa Monica.  It was still being leased back by Drown, though, and the site run as a beach club.  In 1964, Drown sold the club to Douglas Badt, who continued to operate it as the Sand & Sea Club until October 1990, when the city decided that a private club could not be situated on public land.  It became a public club for a short time after that and was used often for filming.   Then, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake rendered the site unsuitable for public use.  It sat vacant and boarded up for several years following.  (I took the below photo of the place in 2000.)

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The city eventually started making plans to renovate the site and turn it into a public beach club, and renowned philanthropist Wallis Annenberg donated $28 million to the cause.  Annenberg had been a member of the Sand & Sea Club as a child and wanted to see the once-great property resurrected.  During the renovation, all of the remaining Ocean House structures were demolished, aside from one of the guest houses, which is currently known as the Marion Davies Guest House . . .

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. . . and a 110-foot Italian marble swimming pool.  Sadly, other than those two elements, no part of Hearst’s original compound, or the Sand & Sea Club remains.

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The Annenberg Community Beach House opened on April 25, 2009.  The site is open to the public daily and is also used as a special events/wedding venue – and, of course, for filming.

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The Marion Davies Guest House pops up regularly as the South Fork Inn on Revenge.

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The Guest House is only used for establishing shots, though.  The interior of the Inn is just a set built inside of a soundstage at MBS Media Campus where the series is lensed.

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In the pilot episode of Revenge, which was shot on location in North Carolina, the City Club of Wilmington was used as the exterior of the South Fork Inn.

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Oddly, the interior South Fork Inn scenes from that episode were shot elsewhere, though.

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As you can see in the images below, the property used for interior filming (which could very well be a private residence) is addressed “400.”  That number does not match up to the address of the City Club of Wilmington, which is located at 23 South 2nd Street.  UPDATE – A fellow stalker named Brian let me know that the interior scenes were shot at the Dudley Mansion located at 400 South Front Street in Wilmington.  You can see some interior photographs of the place here.

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Fellow stalker Glenn also just let me know that a different exterior was used as the South Fork Inn in the Season 3 episode titled “Homecoming.”  That location is actually The Culver Studios at 9336 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

The Annenberg Community Beach House also popped up in the Season 3 episode of Revenge titled “Confession,” this time as a swanky beach club in the scene in which Nolan Ross (Gabriel Mann) first met Patrick Osbourne (Justin Hartley).

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Filming of that scene took place on the patio overlooking the pool area.

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During the second and third seasons of Beverly Hills, 90210, which aired in 1991 and 1992, the Sand & Sea Club masked as the Beverly Hills Beach Club, where Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) worked and the rest of the West Bev gang hung out.  The Marion Davies Guest House was not used in the filming of those episodes, though.  [To make screen captures for this post, I had to re-watch several of the episodes in which Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) and Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) cheated on my girl Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) and let’s just say it had me feeling all kinds of ragey! ;)]

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During the third season of Saved by the Bell (or fifth, if you’re watching Netflix), which aired in 1991, the Sand & Sea Club masked as the Malibu Sands Beach Club, where Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and the gang worked for a summer.

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While the Marion Davies Guest House was not used in the filming of Saved by the Bell, either, it was briefly visible in the background of the episode titled “The Game,” as you can see below.

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No interior filming of Saved by the Bell took place at the Sand & Sea Club.  The interior of the Malibu Sands Beach Club was just a set built inside of a soundstage.

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While doing research on the Sand & Sea Club for this post, I came across the photograph below.  Apparently, Bethenny Frankel was a Production Assistant on Saved by the Bell during the early ‘90s and worked on some of the beach club episodes!  How cool is that?

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The Sand & Sea Club also made an appearance in the 1990 movie Side Out.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Los Angeles magazine online.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Marion Davis Guest House, aka South Fork Inn from Revenge, is part of the Annenberg Community Beach House, which is located at 415 Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.  You can visit the property’s official website here.

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6 comments

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  1. Jonah Kyle says:

    The Southfork Inn sounds like an obvious homage to Southfork Ranch on sister manipulating-scheme show “Dallas.”

  2. Ashley says:

    Say it isn’t so – the Malibu Sands Beach Club is gone?! Great timing for this post because I listen to this hilarious podcast Saved By the Bell Reviewed and they’re currently talking about those episodes.

  3. Brian says:

    Lindsay – The interiors for the South Fork Inn in Wilmington were filmed at 400 S Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401 (a couple of blocks away from the City Club). This is a private home they use alot for filming in Wilmington. I used to live in Wilmington and recognize the interiors.
    Brian

  4. beachgal says:

    I used to play tennis tournaments there in the 50’s sometimes and remember it well before the main house and others were torn down. My mom went to a lot of fund raisers there when Marion was still living there – she hosted a lot of charity events held there in her home. I remember going to a big auction preview as well – that was before the main house was gone — by the time that was turned into a hotel, there were other destinations that were much more popular – Palm Springs and The Balboa Bay Club (by the early 50s) were places we went to then and not that many folks came to stay in Santa Monica anymore as a vacation destination. Things changed a lot about the area in those post War years. The hotel part was doomed from the start it seemed. They didn’t even have a very nice restaurant as I recall.


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  1. […] fires that followed wound up devastating the structure.  Architect Julia Morgan, who co-designed William Randolph Hearst’s Ocean House in Santa Monica, was eventually brought in to rehabilitate it and The Fairmont was finally opened to the public in […]

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