Victorian homes seem to lend themselves naturally to movies and television shows of the horror genre. There is just something about them that screams ‘haunted house!’ Still, I have yet to come across one with quite the horror pedigree of Altadena’s famed Woodbury-Story House. By my count, the historic residence has appeared in no less than thirty spooky productions in the last 12 years alone! The place is a virtual horror film legend!
Tucked away on a sleepy cul-de-sac, with only a small portion of its frontage facing the road, it is easy to pass by the Italianate structure without even realizing it is there. In fact, despite its vast filming background and historical importance, the home remained unknown to me until 2012 when a friend told me about its rather gory appearance in a Season 5 episode of “True Blood.”
Constructed in 1882, the property was one of the first to be built in the area and is Altadena’s oldest remaining home. It was commissioned by Captain Frederick James Woodbury, a city founder, and his wife, Martha, on what was then a sprawling 937-acre plot of land. Though the home’s architect is unknown, per a 1993 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, its design is most commonly attributed to Harry Ridgway.
The dwelling went through a succession of different owners following the Woodburys’ move to nearby Pasadena in 1891, the most prominent being Hampton L. Story, one of the builders of San Diego’s beloved Hotel Del Coronado, and his wife, Adella, who purchased the home in 1895 and lived there for almost three decades. The couple also made a substantial addition, commissioning architect Frederick L. Roehrig to install a 21-by-40-foot music room to the western side of the property in 1898. The wood-paneled space, which features a trussed ceiling, 21 windows, and a brick fireplace, brought the residence’s total square footage to 6,159. The grand Colonial Revival-style room is easily one of the most filmed areas of the house. Roehrig also redesigned the entrance hall at the same time, installing a stunning screened staircase that leads up to both the ballroom and the home’s second level.