Considering its title, the 2018 film “The House with a Clock in its Walls” would have been nothing without a fabulously spooky residence at its center. Based on John Bellairs’ 1973 young adult book of the same name, the Eli Roth-directed movie tells the story of orphan Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) who is sent to live with his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) in a mysterious mansion following the untimely death of his parents. Set in New Zebedee, Michigan in 1955, the family flick has been described as a “starter horror movie,” with Roth drawing his fantastical inspiration from such purveyors of the macabre as Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro.
Jon Hutman, the celebrated production designer behind the memorable looks of “Something’s Gotta Give,” “The Holiday,” “It’s Complicated” and “Heathers,” was tasked with creating the movie’s wondrous, shadowed world. And while a real Victorian in Bellairs’ native Marshall, Michigan served as the model for the titular residence in the book, Hutman and his team looked elsewhere for the screen version, ultimately settling upon a rambling turreted dwelling known as the Parrott-Camp-Soucy House located about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta in Newnan, Georgia.
Hutman altered the exterior of the property for the shoot, telling the Motion Picture Association, “We built the big spooky wall and gates where it used to be sort of wide open, and made it all overgrown and funky. It’s really the wall and the big scary wrought-iron gates that changed the tone of the house.” One look at the pad’s exterior, though, and it’s clear the place has a tone all its own! In fact, back in 1991, long before it became cinematically famous, The Atlanta Constitution deemed the residence a “tourist-stopping attraction” thanks to the many passersby who would regularly pop by to gawk at the majestic exterior.