Scene It Before: The How to Get Away with Murder Castle

A historic La Canada Flintridge mansion figures prominently in the current season of the hit ABC show

Season 2 of How to Get Away with Murder is proving to be as scandal- and drama-infused as the first. There’s murder! Incest! Someone shoots Annaliese Keating (Viola Davis)! But the element I find most gripping is the massive hilltop castle that pops up in every episode. I’m not using the term “castle” to be dramatic. The place is an actual castle, complete with a stone façade, crenelated roofline, and looming tower. Despite all my years investigating film locations, I had never seen the place prior to watching HTGAWM. I set about doing some research on it immediately.

The property, it turns out, is known as the Wallace Castle and it is appropriately located at 5455 Castle Knoll Road in La Canada Flintridge.

The massive four-story, 9,170-square-foot mansion, which boasts 7 bedrooms and 7 baths, was constructed in 1911 and inspired by the Skibo Castle (now The Carnegie Club) in Scotland. Architect Arthur B. Benton designed the residence for Albert Joseph Wallace, who served as the Lieutenant Governor of California from 1911 to 1915. Wallace named the property “el Nido,” which is Spanish for “the Nest.”

Albert and his wife, Alice, did not live on the premises for long. In 1914, the couple sold the pad to developer Frank Raleigh Strong. Frank’s wife, Betty, painted the castle bright pink to punish him for taking a trip she did not approve of. The pastel hue remained for more than 70 years, earning the property the nickname the “Pink Castle.” Betty continued to live at the home after Frank passed away in 1953, but eventually sold it to a developer in 1955.

The developer parceled off virtually all of the castle’s original 75 acres (today it sits on just one) and left the residence to deteriorate. It quickly fell into disrepair and became a destination for vandals and local high school kids looking for a place to party. Thankfully, new owners rehabilitated the dwelling in the ‘90s and returned the exterior its original grey. Today, Wallace Castle shines like a beacon over the surrounding neighborhood.

A screen grab from "How to Get Away with Murder"
A screen grab from “How to Get Away with Murder”

In How to Get Away with Murder, the property belongs to adopted siblings Caleb (Kendrick Sampson) and Catherine Hapstell (Amy Okuda), who are on trial for the murders of their wealthy parents. The manse’s real life interior, in all of its wood-paneled glory, has been used in the filming, as well. You can check out some images of that interior here.

Seeing Wallace Castle in person gave me goosebumps. Not only is the residence extraordinarily beautiful, but it is not every day one glimpses a castle in Los Angeles County.

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.