Mary Richards’ Apartment on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

I grew up watching “Mary Tyler Moore Show” reruns after school and wishing I could have an apartment like hers. And of course I’d have to have a neighbor like Rhoda to go with it!

Mary Richards lived on the third floor of an old Queen Anne Victorian in Minneapolis, Minnesota, behind those signature Palladian windows with the iron balcony. We get a glimpse of the house here as she drives her white Ford Mustang up to it during the first season:

Mary Tyler Moore show front of house pilot

In real life, those Palladian windows at the top of the house led to nothing but an unfinished attic space at the time. Later owners reportedly finished it and turned it into a media room.

The owners of the house got so tired of drive-by gawkers when the show was in its heyday that they hung an “IMPEACH NIXON” sign across the front of the house so the show couldn’t shoot new exterior shots to use in later seasons. That’s why producers had Mary move to a high-rise apartment in 1975.

front of Mary-Tyler-Moore-Show-house on TV

In this shot when Mary steps outside you can see the ugly fence that surrounded the old house. It has since been removed, as you can see here.

Mary Tyler Moore in front of Victorian house pilot

In the first script, there was a description of what the writers had in mind for Mary’s apartment, including “ten-foot ceilings” and “a wood-burning fireplace,” which the set designers brought to life:

In the first episode of the series, Mary Richards has just arrived in Minneapolis and her friend Phyllis shows her the apartment she’s going to rent to her on the third floor:

Phyllis enters Mary Richards' empty apartment pilot

It was fun to see it as an empty space, before Mary moves in. Note that they even put ugly drapes up for the scene, which are never seen again:

Mary Meets Phyllis pilot MTM

When they open the drapes, it reveals Rhoda Morganstern, who is washing the windows of her new apartment (so she thinks):

Mary Richards apartment MTM pilot

After Mary moves in, we see where she plans to sleep in this one-room apartment–on a sleeper sofa in the middle of the room. This always made the idea of sleeper sofas seem so glamorous to me as a girl.

Mary Tyler Moore show apartment pull out bed

This shot shows the wall next to the door, with her famous “M” on the wall.

Mary Richards apartment M on the wall

A view of the wall with the tiny kitchen to the left, the wood-burning fireplace, and the door to the walk-in closet and bathroom to the right:

woodburning stove Mary Richards apartment

Rhoda Phyllis and Mary on the Mary Tyler Moore Show

I love this shot because you can see that the ceilings are vaulted and beamed:

Mary Tyler Moore Show apartment set

In this shot you can see that there are hardwood floors in the apartment, and that the shag carpeting is an area rug, not wall-to-wall as it sometimes appeared (at least on the “lower level” of the room). The furniture moves around a lot from scene to scene. Sometimes the sofa has its back to the window. Other times it is off to the right, like it is in this scene with Phyllis (the hilarious Cloris Leachman):

Mary and Phyllis on the Mary Tyler Moore Show

I was always kind of fascinated by this cute little kitchen:

Mary Richards kitchen Mary Tyler Moore Show

It could be open to the main room, or Mary could pull down this window to close it off:

door to Mary Richards' kitchen MTM Show

Here’s a look inside the teeny kitchen, with the window closed. Mary and Rhoda are looking in the mini fridge, hoping to find something to feed their guests who came expecting dinner. They find a carrot.

stained glass pull down window Mary's kitchen MTM

Mary and Rhoda in the tiny kitchen MTM Show

Here’s another view into the kitchen from the dining area, with the window up. There’s a pot rack that wasn’t there during the earlier kitchen scenes (the little girl is Bess, Phyllis’s daughter):

Mary's kitchen Mary Tyler Moore Show

Test audiences reportedly hated the show. Rhoda was deemed “too New York.” Mary was “a loser.” And Phyllis was “too abrasive.”

The writers originally intended for Mary Richards to be divorced and leaving a bad marriage behind, but the network was afraid it would be too controversial–also, that they might think she was “divorcing Dick Van Dyke” since he was her former TV husband. CBS insisted that she arrive in Minneapolis after her boyfriend of 2 years refused to marry her.

Mary Richards dining area MTM Show

Can someone explain to me how Rhoda managed to live upstairs from Mary, even though Mary’s on the third floor? Never figured that one out. Another head-scratcher: where is that octagonal window, which you can see in this shot, on the front of the house?

Mary Rhoda and Phyllis Mary Tyler Moore Show set

Here’s a cast photo from a later season that shows bookshelves on another wall (the door to the hall is to the left of Gavin MacLeod and Betty White):

*UPDATE*

The Mary Tyler Moore Show house in Minneapolis

It’s on the market! See the listing here.

crooked-house-jon-kate-garden-shop-closeup2
A few months ago, I discovered Kids Crooked Houses, creative playhouses for kids that look like cartoons that have sprung to life, and planned to…
Mary Tyler Moore House MN for sale 2007
Yesterday we took a look at Mary Richards' third-story apartment from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Today I thought I'd show you what the Queen…

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Comments

  1. says

    Mary somehow seemed to make living in one room romantic! We all wanted to be the girl who threw her hat in the air! I still laugh when I remember the “Chuckles the Clown” episode! She’d be in trouble these days if she gave up after 2 years of dating :)
    I always look forward to this!
    .-= susan´s last blog ..Met Monday…. A Wicked Metamorphosis =-.

  2. says

    I loved Mary’s little apartment. Before I was married, I too had one of those step down living rooms with a very small kitchen off to the side. I thought I was reliving the show at times. I loved that apartment…..
    And I could never understand the Rhoda upstairs and Phylis across the hall thing either. Can’t wait to see the inside of the Queen Anne House now..
    Thanks for Sharing this wonderful post.. Maybe you should post “That Girl” Marlo Thomas digs from the same time period. She had a cute apartment too!
    .-= Suzy´s last blog ..Fireworks, Boston Pops, and Special Guest….. =-.

  3. Kellye says

    By the time I saw the show, it was already in syndication and the furniture & rugs were horribly outdated. The apartment itself is adorable. What a great closet for a studio! In fact, I just moved out of a studio (nothing as cute as this) and what sold it to me was a huuuuge walk in closet. Can’t live without that.

  4. says

    Oh Julia! THat was such fun! I used to watch that show ALL the time (I think cause I loved the spaces…Rhodas apartment was cool too…and as a kid I wanted to be a window designer just like Rhoda!

    I forgot about that little girl! And Clorris!

    Too funny about the impeach Nixon sign!
    .-= Linda@Lime in the Coconut´s last blog ..You must see… =-.

  5. says

    Loved it! I went to a live taping of the MTM show (way, way back!) and was more than a little disappointed to see her wonderful apartment as a stage set. The show they were taping was the one in which she casually explains the location of her hidden bathroom. Thanks for the memories!
    .-= Teri´s last blog ..Dragon and Kenya — Four Weeks Later =-.

  6. J says

    You’ve done it again! Thanks for the great post and interesting trivia. Can you imagine not loving The Mary Tyler Moore Show?!

  7. says

    Great fun Julia. Who did not love & want to be “Mary”. I still remember how I thought having a step-down living room was so “cool”. That and her “M” on the wall!

    Thanks for the trip down a very impressive memory lane.
    .-= Deborah Milne´s last blog ..Life’s Pleasure is to Picnic =-.

  8. Derek says

    In the third season they do a shot that indicates that Rhodas apartment is in the top of the tower. Which is also on the third floor. Go figure. Also the Low bookcase that they keep stepping over in the first season suddenly has a step cut into the center in the second season.. I suppose the actors got tired of either going around to the steps by the door or stepping over it.

  9. says

    Good Morning ~

    This is a great post….it shows the birth of the “great room”. I would move into this apartment today. Such a great space…even the tiny kitchen is perfect.
    Smiles ~ Ramona
    .-= Ramona´s last blog ..4th ~ The Details =-.

  10. says

    Thanks for the tour. I never thought about that octagon window or Rhoda being upstairs, but now it is going to bug me. Can’t wait to see the house as it is today.

  11. Moi says

    I get a kick out of her “desk” with the typewriter.

    Great memories! Thanks for posting this.

  12. says

    As a girl watching this show, I just loved Mary’s little apartment and wished for something similar for myself. Looking at it now, isn’t it interesting how many of the elements of that room would be perfectly appropriate for today?… with the resurgence of the bohemian 70’s look and the popularity of recycling and repurposing cast-off decor, especially if you’re a broke college student or new-to-the-work-force graduate… gosh, it looks a bit like the home my eighteen-year-old daughter is living in now!
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..It’s the little things… =-.

  13. Billy says

    Great post especially with new actual house pix coming tomorrow. Iconic set design that “The New Adventures of Old Christine” living room borrows right down to the ‘C’ (okay so its is really a ‘u’ turned sideways) on the wall.

  14. says

    When I lived in DC during my young 20s, I had a teeny apartment with an even teenier kitchen. Yep, it was just about that size. I thought it was quaint…until I lived there for more than a week. ; )
    .-= the BLAH BLAH BLAHger´s last blog ..My New Nightstand! =-.

  15. Karen says

    Takes me back . . I’m old enough that I saw MTM as NEW episodes:) Shag carpet was SO the thing . . .my first apartment was the top of a Dutch Colonial house. It was so full of character! A HUGE country kitchen (with built in china cupboard), sloped ceiling bedroom, neat bathroom with clawfoot bathtub and built in linen cupboard – painted in a sage green (I still love that color!) Shutters on all windows – so many wonderful things, plus built in bookcases, front and back porches – sigh, it was just the most charming apartment (all this for $80/month!!) Not too long ago we were driving by and I was so sad to see that they had chopped down the most beautiful cherry tree out front (It would ‘snow’ pink blossoms in the spring and cover the sidewalk) the front door of my apartment was slightly open and just for a minute I wanted to open that door and return to 1973 . . . .

    Oh – and I would love to see two older movies, “Rich in Love” (gorgeous old house and on the water) and “Crimes of the Heart” (huge old house with beautiful huge bedroom and kitchen) – “One True Thing” – I better stop now, I get so carried away with this stuff:)

  16. says

    I LOVED the MTM show, even though it went off the air around the time I was born. I do have a giant K for my wall (not in gold, though it’s available in that color at Ballard Designs), and of all the places I’ve lived, the teeny tiny studio I had was probably my favorite.

    I did manage to find a pic of the layout of MTM’s apartment online somewhere, and I posted it on my blog a few years ago, right before I moved into my studio. In my archives it should be in May 2007, or maybe even April 2007.
    .-= Kirsten´s last blog ..Sunday Ramblings =-.

  17. says

    Wow, what a fun post! I adored MTM and her little abode. Looking back, my first apartment was in a Blue Victorian. A lovely studio with a sunken living room and tub. Here I was imitating and didn’t realize it! thanks for sharing!
    .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..Tea Time Tuesday! =-.

  18. TraceyB says

    This was fun, I can’t wait until tomorrow! I’ve been spending all of my time on Army parents websites, so this was a well needed break………Thanks

  19. says

    Julia, this was fun! I also watched the episodes when they originally aired. We thought that it was cool she was from the Twin Cities. ~ Robyn
    .-= Robyn´s last blog ..Blue Monday/Met Monday =-.

  20. says

    Always loved MTM’s apartment, but not that kitchen….love this post…thx. BTW, I read the Twilight books on your recommendation….I couldn’t stop reading them. 😉
    .-= Eileen´s last blog ..Remember Mary Ellen? =-.

  21. Eileen says

    This is great! Thanks so much for posting and I can’t wait to see the next one!

  22. says

    Oh, that was great! Thank you. You wouldn’t believe how often various scenes from that show come to mind. Mary really was the transition between “the way women were then” and “the way women are now.”
    .-= Why S?´s last blog ..Life, Liberty and . . . =-.

  23. says

    Thanks Julia! This post was so much fun! I’ve watched MTM shows and never really noticed the set before. Love that pull down window in the kitchen!

  24. greenie says

    Holy Smokes!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this show—still do. I had no idea the impact this show had on me as a child (of the 70s) until one day I looked around my apartment and …. Oh My God! I have almost the same apartment! Even the large arch window (although mine has two) is the same! Furthermore, my couch is a muted green velvet vintage number from the late 60s/ early 70s. Too weird! My apartment is larger, but the similarities are downright spooky. :-)
    I always loved the exterior of this house, although it did look a little run down. Glad to see the updated pictures–Thanks!

  25. says

    I loved her apartment. I was shocked when she moved to that other boring apartment towards the end of the show. The step down and the kitchen window divider were always my 2 favorite parts of her apartment.
    .-= Robyns Online World´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

  26. Scott says

    Love the photos from the first season. I was obsessed with this apartment as a kid, and even though I’ve long since owned a 4 BR house, there’s still something about the charm and simplicity the set builders created with this set. Now, something to note. When you re-watch the pilot episode when Mary finds her apartment on North Weatherly and moves in, notice the timing of events. As the episode progresses, she sees her apartment for the first time, meets Rhoda (washing the windows of “her” apartment), runs off to her job interview at WJM with Mr. Grant (“I HATE spunk!”), gets the job and is told by Lou to start the next day, and returns to the apartment to find that her furniture has arrived and been arranged by Bess. The next scene has Mary awakening – presumably the next morning, since she later remarks she is starting a new job today – to a locksmith letting Rhoda into the apartment. The apartment is perfectly arranged and accessorized, with the old drapes removed and pictures hung on the walls! We knew Mary was a whiz at many things…but she apparently accomplished all this overnight. Good for her! Another note – the only episode in which the apartment was arranged with the sofa’s back parallel to the window is Season 1, episode 2, “Today I am a Ma’am” – several photos of which are in the post.

  27. Scott says

    Also, before Mary moved to the new high-rise in 1975, there was a different house used for the exteriors during the fourth season. In the stand-in house, Mary’s apartment and palladian window are shown to be on the SECOND floor rather than the third. So, for this season only it finally made sense that Rhoda lived upstairs.

  28. Nathan says

    So where exactly was the bathroom? Even after reading this, I still don’t know. Is the bathroom through the closet? Like a walk-through closet into the bathroom? Cause that would be cool, lol. I also wondered how Phyllis could live above her when she was on the third floor – oh well. A small error, lol. As well as the continuity errors between the inside and outside shots of the house. Love the show!!

  29. It's Freezing Up There says

    Rhoda lived upstairs, in the attic, in a small area of the house hollowed out around the vaulted ceiling of Mary’s place. The angled walls of the attic set strongly suggest the roofline of the house in this tiny studio apartment. A steep staircase outside Mary’s apartment leads upward, (apparently) to a vestibule or hallway, which is implied by the partially visible area outside a beaded curtain from which actors enter when characters visit Rhoda in her place. When looking at episodes featuring the “Rhoda” set, the designer made it look like the unfinished lath and plaster construction of an attic, which the occupant had painted in a lively color palette. Upstage from where the actors stood was a curtained area suggesting the rounded window section of a turret. This only really made sense in later seasons when a different house exterior was utilized ( I have read speculation that it was a miniature model, but am unable to confirm this) and you could see the “Rhoda” level more clearly with the turret on the far right of the house now raised to the appropriate level for Rhoda’s place. Phyllis was shown to live below Mary, apparently the main level, and various references made by characters allude to her living downstairs. Phyllis is also shown using an undesignated room in the house as an art sutdio. And I’ve wondered about that clunky-looking octagon window outside Mary’s door for 39 years.

  30. Robert says

    Mary’s apartment building exterior was TOTALLY a miniature (framed with real tree branches) starting with the fourth season. You can tell this especially in an episode of Rhoda when they do an establishing shot for a phone call with Mary and zoom in close on the balcony and the dollhouse-like Palladian window.

    To answer Nathan’s question (above), yes, Mary’s bathroom was accessed through her closet (much like Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City).

    Per It’s Freezing Up There’s comment, during the first three seasons it was established that Phillis lived downstairs from Mary, but not in the apartment directly below her (if you remember, there was an episode where that apartment was coming available to rent and Mary and Rhoda were worried the noise they were making while exercising had disturbed the departing downstairs tenant). In shots that cut to Phyllis’ and Lars’ apartment the camera would zoom to the curved corner windows on the left side of the building (opposite the side with the “tower room” they used for Rhoda). By the fourth season with the miniature house, the miniature was only two storys tall (the original house was three), and instead of a curved corner and corner window there were just walls at right angles to one another, so Phyllis still lived downstairs somewhere, but from that one story we know it’s not directly under Mary.

    It’s all sort of an alternate universe kind of thing after the first three seasons, as at some point Mary would have gotten home and realized her house changed — even to the degree of now being a two story building and having a whole floor missing. :)

    It’s fun for me to see the gold “etc.” sign in Rhoda’s apartment sets (both the original and in New York) since I owned that same exact sign. They painted it for the show, but it was originally sold (for under $5!) in plain, unfinished wood, and in the late-1970s they amended the packaging with “As seen on Rhoda.” I’m sure it’s in storage somewhere but finding it could involve a major archaeological dig.

  31. Robert says

    As a follow-up to my message above, catch the early part of the fifth season episode “Not a Christmas Story.” You can see that the Palladian window details don’t match the apartment set window or the original house window at all. It looks like they bought a pre-existing doll house window and used that, rather than making an exact duplicate. Look also at the “trees” in front of the window with the “snow” on them and you’ll see they’re just sticks.

    (In most other scenes shot from an angle you can also see that the Palladian window is too thick as it juts out from the wall of the building.)

    The good thing they did with the miniature house was use illuminated transparencies inside the windows that sort of correspond to the set (there’s a lamp in front of the window, now, for instance). (On the first three seasons they’d do an establishing shot and the curtains position and things would seldom (if ever) match the interior set once we went inside.)

    Even worse was the Rhoda series, where instead of going out and filming exteriors much they’d just zoom in on a flat picture of the building, and the windows would be selectively yellowed out for night time shots (unconvincingly) and the light underexposed. Then, of course, when Rhoda and Joe move to their apartment in the same building there’s no window at all that corresponds to the set, so they just vaguely zoom in to the side of the building, never an exact window as they did with Brenda’s apartment on the second floor just to the left of the entrance awning between the wings of the building. (Watch her window ledge for appearing and disappearing flowers in pots too.) :)

  32. Robert says

    Okay, still watching season 5 episodes and the Palladian window on the miniature house changes at times. Sometimes it mirrors that in Mary’s place with two doors in the central window (this is also the one that seen at a slight angle is too thick relative to what it would be in real life), and other times the central doors are missing and the window pane details are completely different (see “Not a Christmas Story” [and others] for this version). Also note the side windows are narrow on these and completely different than those on the set. Enjoy.

  33. Diane S. Rice says

    Loved seeing these old photos! I loved MTM show in the 70s and would NOT go out on Sat. night until it was over! Didn’t see her Chemex coffee pot which I had to have (and do!) and also back then I promptly got a “D” to paint and hang on my wall in a grouping – just like Mary. I really identified with her – being young and single during those years. Thanks for all the info that went along with the photos. Loved it! Diane Rice

  34. amanda says

    I love Mary’s apartment. I have a thing for sunken living rooms and the window is gorgeous. I never knew she lived in a Victorian.

  35. Hamtonitegal says

    When I was a little girl, I watched this with my mother. I always told her I wanted to have Mary’s apt when I grew up and got my own place. It’s still great in reruns … It would be a great starter apt for anyone. I still love it. It’s so fun.

  36. PurpleCupcake says

    I miss this show…. I watched it growing up as a kid, and always LOVED Mary’s apartment. I wish they would bring this show back to T.V.

  37. Mary's Other Victorian says

    The house Mary Richards lived in before moving to Minneapolis was filmed but never used in the series. Built in 1896, it is at 1818 Kenwood Pkwy., Minneapolis, just up the street from the “Mary Tyler Moore House” at 2104 Kenwood Pkwy.

    My friends and neighbors, Doug and Linda Sawin, lived at 1818 at the time the first episode was filmed. If I remember correctly, Mary was supposed to be moving from a farmhouse near Rochester, Minn. The Sawins’ relatively modest house was chosen primarily because it could be shot at an angle that revealed nothing but sky behind it; that it was so near to the other shoot was secondary.

    My sons and the Sawin’s daughters, all small children at the time, were used as extras, lining the sidewalk as they watched Mary and her movers tote her worldly goods from house to van–for hours. The kids were unpaid–and ultimately unseen, much to our disappointment when we viewed the first episode. The entire sequence had ended up on the cutting room floor.

    The Sawins had given their permission to the producer, but the woman who owned the “Mary Tyler Moore House” had not. She was not even asked! The crew just showed up, unloaded their equipment and started filming. As you can see from the posted pic of Mary Tyler Moore on the house’s walkway steps, they encroached on private property.

    The illegal use of her property was irksome, as were the dozens of tour buses that began roaring past–and stopping–in front of her house every day, the many tourists who trampled her lawn, peered in her windows and rang her doorbell to ask if Mary was home. The final straw, though, was the news that the film crew was back in town and planning to decamp at her house all over again in order to show it as it looked in summertime. That no one on the production team had contacted her to ask for permission was the final straw.

    It was Watergate Summer, and that’s when she strung up the Impeach Nixon banner, making any filming impossible.

    • hookedonhouses says

      Very interesting! Thanks for all the inside information! -Julia :-)

  38. ilovesecretariat says

    I love this website!
    I too am a huge MTM fan, grew up watching the show (although I must admit, I loved the opening and closing songs and the bumper music used throughout the shows; since I was a little girl, I didn’t get a lot of the jokes!) and now still watch it all the time onDVD.
    If you can get it, the book “Love is all around–the making of the MTM show” is great.
    I enjoyed reading your comments, too! thanks for letting me participate :)

  39. Nita says

    It makes me long to see the apartment of Anne Marie on That Girl again!

  40. Angel says

    Bless you for having a collection of these screen shots. I have a school assignment in which we have to draft the set of an existing TV show, taped in front of a live audience. This will definitely help me, and I vow to pay it forward.

  41. says

    Hi! I am really enjoying your website, especially the sections about “Rebecca” and “Mr. Blandings…” since they are two of my favorite movies! A quick trivia item regarding Mary Richards’ apartment — a sixties tv show starring Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin called “He and She” used this particular sound stage indoor setting. I recognized it right away. Yes, there were some changes made for Mary, but that tiny kitchen and some other inside features were unmistakably from that other show.