The classic 1950 movie Cheaper by the Dozen was based on a book that told the true story about Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and their 12 children.
When the movie opens, Frank (Clifton Webb) announces that he is moving his family from Rhode Island to New Jersey. The kids protest at first, but when they see this beautiful Second Empire Victorian, they change their tune (wouldn’t you?).
Let’s take a look back at the house from the movie!
The “Cheaper by the Dozen” House
The movie was filmed on a back lot called St. Louis Avenue.
Below is a photo a reader took of the house in the 1970s before it was razed:
They used the same House in Meet Me in St. Louis in 1944:
Inside the “Cheaper by the Dozen” House:
Frank Gilbreth was a famous efficiency expert who thought he could run his family with the precision of a factory.
He had all sorts of time-saving routines for them that I wanted my own family to try after reading the book when I was a girl, but they weren’t as enthusiastic…ha.
After the Gilbreth family moves in, the mother (Myrna Loy) says the house was “too big for two servants” to handle, so they had a family meeting to tell the children they’d have to start pitching in. Times were tough!
After Frank dies of a heart attack, his wife and 12 children are left to fend for themselves.
There’s a poignant scene with Myrna Loy, alone and newly widowed, pondering her future without him:
One of the reasons I got this movie out to watch it again was because I had just re-watched the Steve Martin-Bonnie Hunt remake and wondered how much it had to do with the original.
The answer: not much.
The biggest difference was in the way the children were portrayed.
In the original movie, the children weren’t perfect, but they were well-mannered, respectful, and loving, even though their father is strict and demanding.
The house from the 2003 “Cheaper by the Dozen” remake is on the market.
See what the Second Empire Victorian looked like in Meet Me in St. Louis.
Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see the others I’ve featured, listed from A-Z.