The seventh and final season of Mad Men began two Sundays ago, and it won’t be long (well, another year) before legions of fans bid adieu to Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), and the rest of the Sterling Cooper gang. I have never actually seen an episode of the insanely popular series (I know, I know), but I was fortunate enough to catch a scene being shot a few years back. As luck would have it, the stately dwelling where Don and his first wife, Betty (January Jones), lived during seasons one through three is located just down the street from my former apartment, so I trekked over there on a sunny afternoon in 2010 to watch filming—and to catch a glimpse of Jon Hamm in person (obvs).
Said to be located at 42 Bullet Park Road in Ossining, New York, the Draper family’s colonial-style residence can actually be found at 675 Arden Road, right across the street from the Father of the Bride house, in one of Pasadena’s most picturesque neighborhoods. The Draper dwelling itself is no stranger to the screen—the very same pad was also used as the home of Robby Keough (Rene Russo) in the 1995 thriller Outbreak.
Don and Betty are said to have purchased the two-story house shortly after getting married in 1953, but their honeymoon period didn’t last long. By the end of season three, Betty had kicked her womanizing hubby out, and the two later divorced. Betty eventually moved out of the residence as well and into the castle-like Stimson House, another oft-filmed property (and a historic-cultural landmark) located at 2421 South Figueroa Street in the West Adams District.
In real life, the Drapers’ original abode features a blue front door, but on Mad Men, it’s painted a bright red. While observing the filming, I learned from a friendly crew member that the door was painted from blue to red and back again each and every time filming took place on the premises. With all those layers of enamel, I am surprised it can even close properly now!
Mad Men’s impending finale certainly marks the end of an era. Even though I never watched the show, I am sure to be struck with a pang of nostalgia—just like Don during his infamous Kodak carousel speech—every time I drive by the house and see that blue front door.
Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.