The classic 1947 Academy-Award nominee The Ghost and Mrs. Muir featured an unforgettably romantic seaside house called Gull Cottage.
Gene Tierney starred as Lucy Muir, a young widow who rents the cottage, only to discover that the handsome sea captain who died there is still haunting it.
This is one of my favorites, and Gull Cottage is a big reason why. Let’s take a look at the ivy-covered house they built for the movie!
Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links that may earn commission.
Gull Cottage in “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”
Gull Cottage overlooked the ocean in the (fictitious) English village of Whitecliff-by-the-Sea.
However, according to IMDb, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was actually “shot entirely in
California and along the central Pacific coastline.”
Gull Cottage may have been built around the Abalone Cove area of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
It was an empty facade — a standing set without running water or electricity.
The house was dismantled after filming ended and no longer exists.
A reader named Jeri writes, “I have lived in So Cal and visited in Monterey several times. Gull Cottage was shot in Abalone Cove, Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is known for shrubbery and no trees. The end of movie with Fairley’s visit was shot in Monterey — the cypress in the background only grow in that area. Also the coastline is sort of flat near the water, in the PV Peninsula to start. It ends with craggy coastlines and mountains in the background. Very different landscapes compared from beginning to end.”
The Monkey Puzzle tree, which Captain Gregg was unhappy to see taken down, was real.
It was found on the back lot of Fox studios and transplanted for the shoot.
The word muir (and Lucy’s last name) is Gaelic for “the sea.”
Real estate agent Mr. Coombe tells Lucy that Captain Gregg committed suicide,
which is why he’s haunting the house.
But Lucy isn’t easily frightened. She loves the cottage and is determined to stay, ghost or no ghost.
Gene Tierney starred in several memorable classics, including Leave Her to Heaven (1945):
Despite her beauty and fame, Tierney had a difficult life marked by tragedy and mental illness.
The movie was based on the 1945 novel written by British author Josephine Leslie.
Fearing that no one would read a book like this written by a woman, she used the pseudonym R. A. Dick.
The novel was adapted by American screenwriter Philip Dunne for the movie.
The painting of Captain Gregg was actually a photo of Rex Harrison that they painted over.
The ceilings were removable to accommodate lights and sound equipment.
The Captain says goodbye to Lucy while she’s sleeping, telling her she needs to experience real-life love.
When she wakes up, she’ll think he was just a dream.
The Captain and Lucy in front of the cottage overlooking the sea:
Lucy’s daughter was played by a young Natalie Wood.
I just read the novel it was based on and loved it! The story is a little different from the movie version.
You can get it on Amazon (affiliate links):
And if you haven’t seen the movie in a while, you can get it here:
The DVD (affiliate link) has some really cool special features, including numerous set stills that show Gull Cottage from just about every angle you can imagine. That’s where I found a couple of the exterior shots of the house (the rest are screenshots I took while watching the movie). I highly recommend it for true Ghost and Mrs. Muir fans!
Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see the other movies I’ve featured, listed A-Z,
including Leave Her to Heaven and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
My apologies to all of you who left comments on this post today that are now gone. My blog had serious issues this afternoon and lots of things vanished, including this post and the comments that went with it. Was able to restore the post, but not the comments! -Julia
I am coming to this blog late so my apologies – but I just love it. I had to leave a comment as I also love “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir” which is still my all-time favorite movie and sound track by Bernard Hermann. Wanted to share three things: 1) The exterior beach scenes from the movie were actually shot on the craggy coast of Carmel, CA. 2) There is actually a street in Surry, Maine called Gull Cottage Lane and there’s a home right on the water that’s named Gull Cottage! Too bad it’s not half as pretty as the Santa Barbara one. And 3) I named my youngest daughter Lucy Anna after Lucy Muir and her daughter Anna. Told you I loved the movie!
Better late than never, Dava! Thanks for the additional info. I love that you named your daughter Lucy Anna! 🙂
I love this post and this movie! The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is my absolute favorite movie and I love Gull Cottage. I am late coming to hooked on houses as well. I love that you named your daughter Lucy Anna! Not enough people appreciate this movie.
Bohemian Valhalla says
What a great Post! I always Love watching the Old Movies just to see some of the fab interiors and Old Houses they were filmed in… whether sets or the real deal I find them captivating!
Dawn… The Bohemian
I love these old period movies, especially what can be seen of the houses! I’m sad to say I’ve only seen parts of this movie and never sat and watched if from beginning to end. Your post has caught my attention and next time it’s on TCM I’m going to grab my knitting and watch the whole thing!
jennie w. says
That house would be so adorable in real life. Those great floors and mouldings and trim! Not to mention the beach. Sigh. I wonder what that location looks like now. Probably a bunch of mansions.
I loved that movie…. how neat, but sad, that the house was only a shell and not really a “real” house… I guess that’s Hollywood for you – even that long ago… Your post makes me want to curl up on the sofa today and watch the movie again! 🙂
A wonderful post, as always. This movie is one of my favorites. Thank you so much for the memories.
Julia- I agree. It’s so sad that the Captain leaves his Lucia, when she falls for George Sanders (a total cad). Every time I watch the movie, I think it would have been SO much better, if the Captain had come back a week later and she had remembered everything. That would have made a great movie!
One more thing…since you’ve added The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, have you ever thought of including Laura’s apartment (from the movie Laura)? That’s a beautiful set and a wonderful film noir story. To me, the two best ‘girl movies’ of all time are ‘Laura’ with Gene Tierney and ‘Love Letters’ with Jennifer Jones. If you haven’t seen them, Love Letters has a wonderful old English cottage. Both movies are great combinations of romance and suspence, with a little murder thrown in.
This is one of my all time favorite movies – – I even have the DVD! I thought the movie set was less dark and gloomy than the interiors on the tv show.
I actually watched this movie last week (have the DVD). I love this movie. I wish also that he came back earlier. They all seemed to enjoy visiting with him, even though none of them knew the other knew. They were the family he never got to have! I love that house too. Oh to live by the sea (I’m in Indiana)! Thank you for talking about the house. Sad to know it was not real but very nice to see.
Lisa From Georgia says
Again, thank you so much for doing this great post, Julia! I Love this movie and Gull Cottage! After reading your wonderful post and seeing all the stills, I realize this movie may have started my fascination with hurricane lamps. The lighting through those windows is equisite.
it was really sad that he left her that way.
another movie i thought had…interesting sets is “two for the seesaw.” i have never seen or heard of it in my life. it’s set in new york and features two tiny apartments. shirley maclaine and robert mitchum. definitely cool.
I love this movie and love the set, especially the kitchen. There is a tender scene in the end where Lucy and Anna, now grown, sit and talk and Lucy realized that Anna also saw the Captain. I enjoyed seeing this post, Julia. Thank you.
Just watched Ghost & Mrs. Muir. The woman at the library said she watches it over and over. Loved seeing the cottage and thought Gene Tierney was perfect for this role. Therefore, I’ll watch Laura ! Thanks for posting the cottage. It was fun seeing it.
Stephen Saint-Onge says
Julia: Forgot all about this great film home! Love, love this movie. Such a great post!
This is one of my favorite movies and the feeling of the sea throughout the movie is part of the enchantment. The music score by Bernard Hermann makes a major contribution to the success of the film. Living by the sea has a great appeal and years ago when I needed to get away from it all I used to rent a house at The Sea Ranch in Northern California. This was a seaside cottage in every sense, compact and cosy with a wood-burning fireplace, but very modern with lots of glass and vaulted ceilings. The views of the sea and the meadows in this beautifully designed community were spectacular. I could see white spouts from whales migrating offshore and deer grazing in the meadows. The Sea Ranch is a magical place and I would always take a copy the “The Ghost and Mrs Muir” with me to enjoy during my stay there.
Ahhh…sounds wonderful! I wish I had a place like the Sea Ranch to go to right now. 🙂
One of the most bueatiful movies ever made. They could have never picked a better actor or actress to play the parts. I loved it from beginning to the end and I hope it will always be around to watch again and again. A true classic.
Alessandra White says
Where did you find all the production stills for this film? I’m grateful that you posted them. Once I am done with my mini version of Rosehill Cottage from The Holiday I plan to do Gull Cottage in miniature, and these photos will really help. Great post!
I forgot to mention that the stills were part of the Special Features on the DVD. Aren’t they great?
Alessandra White says
I’m getting the DVD then! I love it when special features are put onto a DVD. I always want to see how they did stuff, and parts of the set you don’t see in the film. Thanks!
Fyi – Many years ago, I bought a DVD of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”- but it wasn’t available in the States so I had to go on EBay and got a bootleg copy from China! Printed on the front cover – “The Ghost and Mrs. Mui”. HA!
lana dale says
I love this website and as i have always loved film and everything to do with it including the music plus I am married to a famous person as well…I thank you from my heart for posting the information about this particular film and the rare and great photos of the film from 1947 “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” as well, which happens to be my dream house including the interior and the grounds and shore! Thanks so much, Lana Dale
Robert Paterniti says
This site is the best!!! I’m 70 yoa and this movie has been in my life for the past 55 years.!!! It is without doubt one of the best things to ever come out of Hollywood!!! I have for the longest time, been trying to get information on Gull Cottage! You have made my day!!! I would love to get the blueprints for this house. Are there any available??
I love this site!!! You have a new follower. I love The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Gull Cottage. This post is amazing. I wish the house was real but some of the best movie houses are sets. The house from Practical Magic is a wonderful set. If I could design my own house it would be a combination of Gull Cottage and the Practical Magic house. Can’t wait to read your other posts!
Larry S says
Yeah, I have been watching this film for over 50 years and it still tugs at the heart and generates a yearning experience. I liked to build ship models and eventually got a brass ship’s bells clock. Still trying to find where in Palos Verdes Peninsula Gull Cottage was built.
lana dale says
My Husband Dick Dale and I watch this movie every once in awhile because the house in the 1947 film “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison is my Dream Home as i posted once before on this site. DD agrees with me that the film is one of the Greatest Films ever made ..Thanks to Joseph M. for making this great film! I would advise everyone to see the film and look at this great website to see the photos posted on here. They are like no other site on the computer. She has pictures on here i have never seen before and I thank you tremendously for this website… I love it!!! I wish i could be at this location and have this house..it’s the only one i have really ever wanted more than anything…Thank you again..Lana Dale
Thank you so much for your in-depth info about the house from “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”. I first fell in love with this movie at 12 (now 39), and it’s remained one of my all-time favorite movies. I first saw this movie during some of the best times of my life…when I still had my grandparents and my mom (all since have passed). So thank you for a wonderful walk down memory lane!
I’ve always loved this film; it’s setting, Gene, that ‘Lucy’ chose to be an independent woman, the paranormal factor, the music, etc. As I got older, I began to appreciate that cottage. That gorgeous house overlooking the ocean – that’s my dream home and setting.
Thank you for posting photos. Although sad to learn that specific house doesn’t really exist, I’m glad it’s image is perpetuated in such a lovely film and on your blog.
James Stuart says
Thanks for the great photos of the house. I read somewhere else on the net that the picture was filmed at Stillwater Cove, Sonoma County, Northern California. But you place the film location at Palos Verdes. Is this location south of Los Angeles? Are you able to clear up the confusion here?
I’ve always loved this house and its location but suspected it was a specially built set for the film and if I ever manage to visit California from my home in Scotland I’d love to visit the locations from the film.
By the way what’s unfortunate about Josephine Leslie’s pseudonym, R A Dick?
I got that information from Movie Real Estate (see the link in the post above). That’s the only info I found on the location during my search. Maybe more has come out since then, though! If anyone has any additional details, please fill us in!
James Stuart says
Forgot to say in my earlier post that the word “ muir “ in Gaelic doesn’t mean “by the sea” but actually means a “moor” an area of upland, usually having peaty soil covered with heather, coarse grass, bracken, and moss.
This site is bloomin marvelous, I’ve lived in Guernsey in the Channel Islands for 34 years and I first remember watching this film with my mam in Newcastle just before I left for here. I absolutely love the film and never ever get sick of watching it – the ending still sends tingles down my spine. It was on Sky the other month and I taped it so I can watch it whenever I want now, my best times to watch are when it’s cold and windy in front of a roaring fire. I always fancied it was made in the West Country UK so am a little disappointed it wasn’t, I also thought it was a real house and I would love to have visited it had it been – it would be my dream home.
Thank you so much for posting those stills. My Mom worked on this film in 1947, right before she married my Father and retired.. She had great stories about Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney, even Daryl Zanuck..
Always tear up when the Captain reaches down to take Gene Tierneys character off to Heaven at the end, walking past the now elderly housekeeper who doesn’t see them leaving for eternity….
That is so neat that your mom worked on this movie!
Yes, I always felt it was so cool! In those days though you only worked until you got married.. she was there for about 10 years.. had loads of stories about everyone.. even had a car accident with Katherine Hepburn one morning ! Mom always said she wasn’t looking where she was going.. Hepburn angrily shook her fist at her after getting out of the car to survey (?) jumped back to .. drove off in a cloud of dust..
What a great story! Love it.
Tom Austin says
I’m currently blogging about “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”, and I found your post about Gull Cottage. I really enjoyed reading your blog about the cottage, but I wish you had included up to date photos to compare with ones depicted in the film. It looks like a fantastic house to grow up in – but my growing up days are long behind me.
Just wanted to say hello to a fellow blogger. I intend to refence your blog for those who may want further info about Gull Cottage. You wouldn’t know the name of the dog in the movie would you ?. Just a friendly shot in the dark.
Well, that would be difficult to do since it was just a temporary structure created for the movie that was taken down afterward. Unless you mean you want to see the land itself and how it looks now? That could be interesting. I don’t live on the West Coast but if anyone wants to venture out and get some pics, I’d love to see them!
Looking forward to seeing your post about it, Tom.
L Stevens says
The location of the movie house was supposedly on Palos Verdes Peninsula, south of Los Angeles. Photos of that coastline are online, but after looking at the outdoor photos in the movie, and comparing with the coastline photos of today, I have not yet figured out where the cottage was.
Yes, most of the pictures during that time was filmed on soundstages inside the studio. it is amazing what they can ( and did) do..
I’m also afraid to inform you that the area is all built up with homes now in Palos Verdes. sigh!.
> I’m also afraid to inform you that the area is all built up with
> homes now in Palos Verdes. sigh!
Perhaps it is better this way. It’s hard to imagine any real structure could come close to invoking the feeling created in that wonderfully crafted film version. Gull House and it’s characters started out as and will continue to be a beautiful fantasy for all eternity.
I’m sure it looks nothing like it did in the movie then. Nice that we have it on film to revisit, though!
James Stuart says
Who is the “Steve” you quote in your text about the film ” The Ghost and Mrs Muir” 1947? I’m still trying to find out more about the locations of the sets.
Follow the link to that website I mentioned in the post above to Movie Real Estate. Steve gives lots of info in the comments.
Lisa Wilson says
My internet search on Gull Cottage has lead me here – to my delight – love the photos and comments. Intrigued by the location as well, I’ve been comparing maps and old photos found online and have narrowed it down to two possible locations in RPV. Lunada Bay or Christmas Tree Cove – I’ll have to watch the movie again to see if I can catch a glimpse of the Point Vicente Lighthouse, visible in distance off Christmas Tree Cove but not so much from Lunada…but looking at more photos…could also be Bluff Cove. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvlocalhistory/
These photos from the 1920s have kept me busy all day…hope it’s okay to post a webpage…in case anyone else wants to research…sorry if this is rambling…thanks!
Wow, those old photos are very cool. Thanks, Lisa!
I loved Gull Cottage and the movie. I also liked the the place where Miles Farley lived. Great interior shots. I like to watch old movies for the architecture. Another great one is The Bishops Wife. My Fair Lady also had incredible interior shots
I am amazed there are so many people who feel the same way about this movie, the house and music. I searched the coast until I found the area where it was filmed. Thank you for posting.
John D'Angelo says
I just published a short seven page paper entitled “The Search for Gull Cottage” on Lulu.com and it is a PDF document that is totally free, no strings attached. here is the link for you:
My paper deals with the cottages that were used in “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” 1947 movie, “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir” TV series, and a third cottage,
I had a good time researching my paper and I hope that you get enjoyment from it. As I said, there is no cost for downloading the PDF document. I also announced this on Movie Real Estate. I would enjoy hearing back from you after you have read the paper to see how you liked it.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Enjoyed reading your paper very much and you certainly have put a lot of time, effort and research into it.
I’m another person that dreams of winning the lottery and having ‘Gull Cottage’ built for me. Such a pretty house and great floor plan.
If anybody is interested in viewing UK houses please visit one of my favourite sites:
John D'Angelo says
Thanks for the nice comments beverly! I’ll have to drop into your site and see some of the houses. Thanks again!
Okay, first post in 2013 and it’s a good one. “GULL COTTAGE” is a an actual home on Linkin bay in East Boothbay, Maine that is currently for sale for $499. Circa 1930, 3 bedroom, 2 bath. Check out the virtual tour – MLS Maine #1058165. It’s pretty and yellow and right on the water. So, if you have $499 burning a hole in your Capt. Gregg pocket…
That is a cute cottage. Not the same one used in the movie, but I like that they named it after that! 🙂
John D'Anglo says
Really beautiful! We rented a cabin on Boothbay Harbor when our children were young and it’s a great spot. That’s a real nice presentation they put together and $500,000 sounds reasonable for having water front land with a dock. Thanks for giving us the link!
I wonder ??? Do they still have little huts like that on the beach? If they do I’ll find a way to go there, then maybe my mother will go in the water past r her shins.LOL
Thanks so much for putting up these wonderful pictures, I also have loved this movie all of my life, since seeing it at about 12 (I’m now 54). Its so romantic, wistful and beautiful, albeit sad that they couldn’t be together at least in the end.
I currently live in a house by the sea, love the salty smell, strong southerly winds and have a log burning fire we use in winter, lovely atmosphere…. I’m sure my yearning for this piece of paradise is because of this movie.. I never got the Captain but I love a man in a hat..lol My husband wears a hat.
Although this is described as being a romantic film, share with me if it could be considered a film noir. Why or why not? The more specifics you can share, the better. I look forward to hearing from you!
I grew up along the California coast watching classic old movies like this. I’m so glad that you’ve featured it as it is a personal favorite. I’m certain it was partly responsible for many romantic notions I had of one day owning a cottage by the sea–that and, of course, that I grew up along the coast.
I find the old sets captivating too regardless of whether they are real or not. I thought the ending of this film reminiscent of the movie, Somewhere in Time.
When I left home I lived in many different coastal communities and used to live by the sea in a small fishing village. I was always intrigued by a home that I fancied was a Sea Captain’s abode. It sat on the edge of the harbor front and had a tower where on could see a spyglass telescope. It filled my head with a fantasy that maybe one day I would live in a similar home. It wasn’t a mansion by any means, but just a small, lovely cottage-style home with wonderful views of the surrounding harbor.
I also recall the views of the sea, the estuary and rock formations. We would often fall asleep to the sounds of the crashing surf, especially during winter and the fog horn, although it was automated by then. Still I loved the sounds and found it cozy and welcoming. It wasn’t uncommon during winter to see the white spouts from the whales migrating offshore and the delicate coastal deer grazing in the meadows or the pelicans diving and crashing into the water.
Thanks for sharing this.
John D'Angelo says
That is a beautiful description! If you are not a writer, you should be! There is a piece of land near us located on a bluff facing Long Island Sound, about an acre in size and it is vacant. I would love to buy that piece and build a cottage there, just like your description. Unfortunately the land is going for, at the latest I’ve seen, for about 1.5 million. Come on LOTTO!
Thank you John, you’re very kind. I don’t expect people to reply to me as they usually don’t or say anything so nice. In fact, the Internet seems to invite the exact opposite. Makes me happy to know that there are other people who exist that appreciate some of the things that I do–like this wonderful old movie.
Real estate in California is expensive and especially along the coast. I don’t even know if that home still exists, but I tend to doubt it given that people want to build such huge homes. I’d like to think it is still there, if only in my memories and dreams.
I’ve yet to travel to Long Island–perhaps one day. I’ve heard that it is beautiful, especially places like Montauk. I know there is a lighthouse there and I’m drawn to them–I’ve seen so many. When I travel I long to be near the coast and if I’m close to a lighthouse I’ll visit them. I also picked up a book–now waiting to be savored called Amagansett. Someday I’d like to explore the region. The yearning for the sea never leaves one–it feels like home to me as it’s always with me.
John D'Angelo says
Thanks for the nice words,Karen
We live on the North Fork of Long Island in the village of Southold and it is very pretty here. We have Long Island Sound one mile north of our home and the Peconic Bay one mile south of our home. If you have “Google Earth” on your computer, find Southold, NY. We have 8 lighthouses in Southold Town limits and the Horton Point lighthouse is about 1.5 miles from us. Drop in and look around, Google Earth has lots of nice pictures of the area. When I retired in 2000, we moved here from New York City and love the place,even the winter gales!