Get in on the Action at the Brady Bunch House in Studio City for A Very Brady Renovation.

The kids are back on the staircase.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Anne M. Russell
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell
  • Illustrated by
    Christine Georgiades

How much would you pay to own a nearly 60-year-old cultural icon, a piece of TV history known as “The Brady Bunch house”?

For the Discovery network, the answer was $3.5 million—cash—to claim the three-bedroom, three-bathroom property that sits on slightly under a third of an acre in Studio City. That bid was almost double its listing price of $1.9 million, and it allowed Discovery to grab the house out from under former ‘N Sync singer Lance Bass, who for a brief, joyful period on Twitter, celebrated what he believed was his own winning bid. The first hint about the network’s plans for the property came on an earnings call in August, when Discovery CEO David Zaslav reported the house would be used for a project at Discovery’s newly acquired channel, HGTV. That was followed in November by an announcement that the historic house would star in what is tentatively titled A Very Brady Renovation.

“The house hasn’t changed since it was built in 1959. It’s been kept relatively intact. The sellers—and we as agents—wanted to sell to someone who would preserve it.”

The new show will feature HGTV home-reno-show stars like Property Brothers’ Drew and Jonathan Scott (the latter himself a losing bidder for the house), Hidden Potential’s Jasmine Roth, and Restored by the Fords’ Leanne and Steve Ford. It will also host “surprise celebrity guests,” including the six surviving Brady Bunch castmates. The show’s premiere is slated for September 2019.

Still running in syndication and streaming 40 years after the last episode was filmed in 1974, The Brady Bunch represents the ideal of American suburban life to multiple generations. The single-family home, in spite of being widely known as “the Brady House,” was used only for exterior shots for the five-season-long iconic family comedy. A soundstage at Paramount Television studios was the location for all the interior sets—and the action.

With its showy, double entry doors, shake roof and leaded glass kitchen windows, the house, located at 4222 Clinton Way in the sitcom, is on Dilling Street in real life. As the storyline goes, it was designed by Mike Brady, the mythical dad of the blended family and an architect by profession. Whether it was one of his better efforts is left unsaid.

The 2,447-square-foot property has only had three owners since its construction in 1959. It was sold in 1973 by the original owners for $61,000 to Violet and George McCallister, whose heirs sold it to Discovery.

According to Douglas Elliman Realty’s Spencer Daley, who was the sellers’ co-listing agent, it was the original owners who agreed to the use of the house’s exteriors on the TV show, but the McCallisters allowed the deal to continue. “The McCallisters jumped into it without really understanding the implications of it,” he says. That bit of naïveté paid off handsomely for their children, however.

“The house hasn’t changed since it was built in 1959,” Daley says. “It’s been kept relatively intact. The sellers—and we as agents—wanted to sell to someone who would preserve it.” He adds that the property was on the market less than a week and a half with eight active bidders before the deal closed.

Probably no one is more interested in the impending fate of the house than the surrounding neighborhood. Jill Underhill lives right next door. She says the company producing the new reality show, Lando Entertainment, delivered a box of jumbo cookies to each house on the street, with a notice that construction would soon begin and asking them to “please accept the cookies as a token of goodwill.”

On the day the news broke that the six “Brady kids” would be in the show, she watched them all gather at the property, which had been turned into a “video village with honey trucks for the cast. After my sons got out of school, we went over there and got pictures with ‘Greg’ and ‘Bobby.’ When I met ‘Greg,’ I riffed off the theme song saying, ‘I live next door with three boys own my own,’” Jill laughs.

Alan Dymond, president of the 2,000-member Studio City Residents Association is more apprehensive. He makes it clear he and his group are supportive of the film industry in general saying, “The studios have been very good neighbors.” But he adds that the locals fear Discovery will turn the Brady House into some kind of theme park. “What we’re concerned about is that people will come and tour. Is it going to be a destination point?” he muses. The house is already, according to the Douglas Elliman listing, the second most photographed home in America (after the White House) and has its own Yelp listing and appears on Google Maps of the area.

Discovery says the HGTV Brady house makeover will involve a re-do of the interior to match the actual studio sets—a process that will include making a subdued white-and-floral kitchen into a ‘70s era orange-and-green color riot. It will not, presumably, involve removing the toilet bowls from the bathrooms, as required by network standards at the time the show was filming. (For Brady Bunch trivia fans, there was no actual toilet on the set of the kids’ bathroom, only the tank.)

In what Discovery describes as a “show-stopping transformation,” the renovation will expand the house by 2,000 square feet beyond its existing footprint, to accommodate the reconstructed sets. It will be, promises Loren Ruch, senior vice president, HGTV programming and partnerships, “a trip down memory lane.”

While it seems unlikely the neighborhood’s worst fears of a perpetual Brady Bunch shrine, with long lines of devoted pilgrims, will be realized (hard-core fans are now middle-aged), it does look like memory lane —at least for the time being—will be a hub of action.