Graystone Mansion, California

Graystone Mansion is probably the most-filmed mansion in the world, largely because it is vacant, and owned by the City of Beverly Hills, which encourages film shooting there. It is also a rare case of an authentic-looking old world English mansion, unlike so many of the Mediterranean mansions in the hills above Los Angeles, and its history is as gothic as any of the scary films that are shot there. The 55-room gray limestone structure was built in 1928, and was second only to Hearst Castle at the time in regional opulence. It was built by Edward Doheny, who amassed a fortune as the first to discover oil in the Los Angeles basin, and who was later involved in the Teapot Dome Scandal (he gave $100,000 to the Secretary of the Interior and received favored oil leases at the federally-owned Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve in Kern County). Graystone was a gift to his only son, and the heir to his fortune, but a few months after moving in with his wife and children, Edward Jr. and his male secretary were found shot in the head in a guestroom, in an apparent murder suicide. Edward Jr.'s widow lived there until 1955, when she sold Graystone to a Chicago business man who never moved in. The film industry started using the mansion, and for the next ten years at least 40 productions were shot there. In 1965, Graystone and its remaining acreage was bought by the city of Beverly Hills for $1.3 million, in order to build a reservoir on the grounds. The building continued to be used for filming, and was leased to the American Film Institute from 1969 to 1980. It is now empty and used for an occasional event, but is primarily used as a film location. Base camp for the film production trucks and caterers is on a large parking lot above the mansion, built by the city. Underneath the asphalt is the buried reservoir that serves Beverly Hills as a drinking water supply.