Los Angeles is full of hidden gems – you just have to know where to look. And location managers always do. So when it came to pinpointing spots to portray 1930s L.A. for HBO’s 2020 “Perry Mason” reboot (streaming now on HBO Max), the production team did not disappoint. From Pasadena to San Pedro to Santa Clarita, cast and crew shot at myriad historic sites to bring a Depression-era City of Angels to life on the small screen.
For the boarding house where Della Street (Juliet Rylance) – the tenacious right-hand-woman of both titular character Perry (Matthew Rhys) and his mentor E.B. Jonathan (John Lithgow) – lives along with a ragtag group of fellow lodgers, the team zeroed in on an exquisite Craftsman/Tudor property located in the Alvarado Terrace Historic District, a tiny enclave in the Pico-Union area chock full of architecturally significant residences.
Tucked away atop a small bluff on a curving block overlooking the adjacent Terrace Park, the district is home to six turn-of-the-century properties designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments. Though massive, the homes sit largely cloistered from their incongruous and bustling surroundings of commercial storefronts, apartment buildings and more modern tract houses. A quick turn south off busy Pico Blvd., though, lands you smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood – and seemingly decades back in time. As noted by the Los Angeles Conservatory, “The collection of noteworthy residences surrounding the park creates a complete historic neighborhood ensemble. The grouping of houses in its landscaped setting constitutes an oasis of the past within contemporary Los Angeles.”
At the forefront of it all, almost serving as a gateway to the small district, is 1317 Alvarado Terrace, the spot that portrayed Della’s home. Known as the Boyle-Barmore House in real life, the three-story structure was designed in 1905 by architect Charles E. Shattuck.