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Blurring the Lines Between Fantasy and Reality: The Strange Story Behind the Real-Life Simpsons House in Nevada

Can a cartoon house survive in the real world?

Can a cartoon house survive in the real world?

The Simpsons is the longest-running primetime scripted series in Television history.

In a promotional stunt to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the hit show, that has now graced our screens for over 30 years, a real-life version of the Simpson family home was built in Nevada in 1997. 

It was originally built as a nearly exact three-dimensional replica of 742 Evergreen Terrace, the Springfield residence of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson. 

Image from Pixabay

The unusual idea sprung from Jeff Charney who was responsible for marketing at Kaufman and Broad (now KB Home), a home builder looking to promote both its brand and a new housing development in Henderson, Nevada, about 16 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

While brainstorming in the shower, Charney got the idea to erect a replica of the Simpsons’ home. He brought it to Kaufman and Broad’s builders, and after determining it was feasible, the company pitched it to Fox, who gave their approval to bring the idea to life. 

Project manager Mike Woodley and architect Manny Gonzalez strived to construct the perfect replica. They watched over 100 episodes of the show to help them visualise a near-exact layout that still met building standards and could accommodate real-life people.

No detail was left out, from a food dish for their cat, Snowball II, to Duff beer cans in the fridge and painted mouse holes on the skirting boards. Door frames were even widened and lengthened to accommodate Marge’s hair and Homer’s girth.

Image from Fox

Soon after completion, the house was opened for tours and drew in Simpsons fans from across the States and even the globe. However, it was intended to be lived in, and so was made the top prize of a raffle draw for one lucky fan in December 1997. The winner was Barbara Howard, a 63-year-old retired factory worker from Richmond, Kentucky. But Howard came to the decision that she didn’t want the house and opted for the $75,000 cash prize instead, even though the property value was substantially higher.

This left the fate of the house to Kaufman and Broad. Having sold over 100 homes in the development – which was fittingly renamed Spring Valley Ranch – the property had already served its purpose.

Despite its 24-hour security, fans had managed to sneak into the unoccupied house over the years and take mementos away with them, or at least the things that weren’t firmly glued down. Someone even managed to steal a tree from the garden!

After much deliberation of what do with the property, including one quickly aborted idea of blowing it up on live television, it was eventually put on the market and sold to Danielle, who moved into the bizarre home with her husband and two boys in 2001.

The house had to be repainted as the bright yellow exterior didn’t meet the conformity requirements of the homeowner’s association. From first glance, it now looks like every home on the suburban street. But on closer inspection peculiarities remain, such as the rounded doorways and the chimney that very few houses in Nevada possess. Yet, from the inside it couldn’t be further from a normal family home. No two touching walls are the same colour and the wacky interior appears two-dimensional! It is a cartoon home in the guise of a regular home.

Image from R Scott Jones / Flickr
Image from Fox

The house gets many uninvited guests trying to sneak a peek at the simpsonseque interior, and acts as a pilgrimage site for fans of the show. It even gets mail addressed to the Simpson family, hence why Danielle has kept her surname private. 

Despite the slight disturbance from nosey fans, Danielle has made a home for herself in the de-fictionalised house. Though she has never been a big Simpsons fan she appreciates the yellow legacy that she has bought into. “My neighbour’s dad is actually a pastor,” she says. “It’s too easy to go there with a Flanders joke.”

Sadly the Simpsons house hasn’t survived in the real-world in its full cartoon glory. But it remains the closest thing to the Simpson residence outside of our TV-screens. 

Perhaps next we’ll see the construction of the glass dome that covered Springfield in The Simpsons Movie. It would be fitting in light of current social distancing measures!

For more real-world Simpson content click here to see how an artist recreates the Simpsons as real people. 

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