The Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate, located in western Oakland, should first and foremost be famous to any true horror fans. It was the filming location of the 1979 horror film Phantasm, and the mansion on the grounds served as the mortuary run by the Tall Man, portrayed by Angus Scrimm.
The Dunsmuir mansion itself, a 37-room building built in the Neoclassical Revival style that was popular during the late 1800s, was designed by San Francisco architect J. Eugene Freeman. It features woodpaneled public rooms, 10 fireplaces, a Tiffany-style dome, and inlaid parquet floors all within its 16,224 square feet. There are servants quarters as well in the house that are designed to accommodate 12 live-in staff.
The Estate takes its name from the two prominent Californian families who owned the house before the City of Oakland bought it in the 1960s. Alexander Dunsmuir came to the United States from Canada in 1878 to manage his family’s coal business in the San Francisco Bay Area. He built the house as a wedding gift to his fiancée in 1899, only to die of illness while on their honeymoon in New York. She lived in the house until she died, just two years later in 1901. Isaias W. Hellman, who earned his vast wealth through banking, bought the estate in 1906 as one (of several) summer vacation homes for his family.
The grounds are home to sprawling meadows, gardens and a wide variety of trees including camperdown elms, bunya-bunya and hornbeam.
The estate is open to the public on Wednesdays starting at 11am promptly, and throws occasional events like Easter egg hunts. It can also be rented for events. Flying silver spike spheres not provided.
Know Before You Go
From San Francisco:
Cross the Bay Bridge and continue to 580 East towards Hayward. Exit at 106th Ave./Foothill Blvd. Make three left turns at the three stop signs. Drive under freeway and turn right onto Peralta Oaks Dr. Follow signs to Dunsmuir.