We live in strange times. We are approaching the third and fourth wave of vintage retro music, particularly exotica revivals, a music style that is initially almost a mockery of traditional Polynesian music, but in itself a pretty wide open, otherworldy bastard of a music genre, among others. I never thought that Star Trek or Dungeons and Dragons would see so many generations of enthusiasm outside of their initial flashpoint, but there are workings and reworkings. People still think that the wing wong chong sounds in "China Girl" and "Kung Fu Fighting" are implements of traditional Asian music, even though to anyone outside of 1940, they hardly have a resemblance. Sometimes, though, reworkings of reworkings of concepts that never really existed in real life can be captivating. Such is the case with the marvelous people who are trying to make the half-imaginary mansions from the Addams Family and The Munsters, both TV shows filmed on generic stage sets, a reality.
It might be more than a little geeky, but I totally support these folks who are trying to settle this problem once and for all.
For the Addams Family, it seems to be rather impossible. An architect named Mark Bennett did an entire book speculating the floor plans of several television sitcoms, but this blogger points out the very obvious flaws in these plans, especially in the (lacking) foyer to the Addams Family house. Both of these fellas are cross referencing scenes from every episode of the series with one single painting of a house in LA that is now demolished. The image of the house was only ever painted from one angle, scenes from the series were never shot there. It happened to be painted on glass, and they would simulate rain in front of this painting when necessary. Sometimes, they would zoom the camera all the way into the window to show us more intimately what Pugsley or Wednesday were doing.
The Munsters Mansion is much more accomodating in this case, although it was only built as a set house, moving around the grounds of Universal Studios several times since 1946. For one, it still stands, and has been utilized and modified for several other appearances including being featured on Leave It To Beaver, Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet (both the television series and the movie with Dan Akroyd), The Burbs, Murder She Wrote, and most recently Desperate Housewives. When the house wasn't being used for the Munsters, a hexagonal turret would be removed, stuffed dying trees were replaced with more presentable shrubbery, and the stove pipe chimney would be replaced with a more functional one. Four families have come and gone as residents of the mansion (wikipedia says the site was riddled with "bad news", haven't found much else on the matter).
Having changed slightly, and moved around a bit, the Munsters House was still used for "Munster, Go Home" and "Munsters Revenge", but for the remake series "Munsters Today" (1988) after the initial Munsters series. The pilot episode was made from stock footage, and a new, convincing scale replica of the house was constructed. A lot of props like the organ, grandpa's chessboard, and harp from the original series were reused. "The Munsters Scary Little Christmas" and "Here Come The Munsters" could not afford such a luxury.
In 2002 a couple in Waxahachie, Texas constructed a very convincing replica of the mansion with about $250,000 worth of work. It includes iron gates, trap doors, and secret passageways, cobwebs and wrecked walls, a dragon named "Spot" under the staircase, and a raven cuckoo clock (no word as to whether or not it repeats the words "Nevermore" at the stroke of the hour), but excludes the coffin shaped telephone booth because it's "too creepy".
Another fanatic who calls himself "Cousin Frank" also built his own homage to the Munster Mansion, complete with "cheap pyrotechnics".
In this context, I can relate to the idea of people buying art that "matches the drapes", it doesn't seem as superficial and shallow as it used to for me. There's nothing more artful than a complete and detailed atmosphere, whether there is art hanging on the wall or not. The Addams Family had a painting with a giraffe in a tuxedo, the head of a swordfish who had half swallowed a human leg, and a two headed tortoise; dadaistic at best, but as a whole, that set was a complete piece of art that just happened to have entertainment going on in it. Ultimately, I don't want to split hairs on replicating the Addams Family house, but I admire the people that do. I can't imagine something being more fulfilling than that, and art and music is only part of it.