Have you seen The Princess Diaries lately? I just watched it again with my daughter, and not only was Anne Hathaway adorkable in her first movie role, but she and her mom lived in a way cool firehouse-turned-art studio in San Francisco.
The Princess Diaries firehouse is on the market for $2.6 million, so let’s revisit the sets that were designed for it!
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The “Princess Diaries” Firehouse
In case you never saw the movie or read the book series it was based on (Amazon affiliate link), The Princess Diaries is about an awkward 14-year-old girl named Mia Thermopolis, who is surprised to learn she’s a princess in the (fictional) country of Genovia.
Art Director Caty Maxey posted set photos on her website and says, “The main set was designed to match a vintage firehouse in San Francisco.”
Mia’s mother is an artist, and the firehouse acts as her studio as well as their home.
Mia slides down one of the poles, ready for school:
Note the framed chalkboard on the wall with a list of groceries on it.
When Mia runs upstairs, Helen tells Clarisse that she’s heading up to her tower.
I love the Queen’s response:
My thoughts exactly! How cool would that be?
Here we see the door to the tower pulled shut with a smiley face painted on it:
Mia in Her Tower:
It’s connected to her bedroom below by a spiral staircase.
Fat Louie was a cat that reportedly belonged to Anne Hathaway in real life:
In the Princess Diaries book series written by Meg Cabot,
Mia and her mother Helen live in a Greenwich Village loft instead of a firehouse.
Another difference in the book:
Instead of dying like he does in the movie, her dad actually comes to New York to tell her she’s a princess. In the movie, her grandmother delivers the news.
Who wouldn’t want to find out that Julie Andrews was their grandmother? Love her!
When Mia comes out of her bedroom, you can see the top of one of the firehouse poles:
I love that the set decorators even thought to paint the trash cans outside the firehouse:
The firehouse that was used for the exterior shots in the movie is on the market for $2.6 million in San Francisco.
The listing says, “The firehouse has been home to boat builders, filmmakers, restaurateurs, dancers, sculptors — many who have benefited from this great, grand, expansive space.”
According to SF Curbed:
In 1911, Engine Company 43 was built on Brazil Avenue to fight fires in the Excelsior. The firehouse was originally constructed for horse-drawn carriages, but switched over to fire trucks in 1918. By 1976 it was no longer in operation and was sold at a surplus property auction to a buyer who converted it into a private residence.
There are almost 4,800 square feet in the firehouse itself, plus an additional 340-square-foot outbuilding that was originally the firemen’s kitchen. Inside, the space feels like a loft with cavernous rooms and few walls or interior details, which makes it the perfect starter castle for any would-be rulers of fictional monarchies.
For photos and details about the Princess Diaries firehouse,
check the listing, the article on Curbed, and Art Director Caty Maxey’s website.
The firehouse sets in the movie make me itchy. Too. Much. Junk. Everywhere. No where to rest your eyes. The actual firehouse is so very white, but such a wonderful blank canvas.
Well, the movie version is fun, but I’ll take the more practical real-life space. I’d add a lot more color, furniture, rugs, etc. though.
Barbara H. says
I never wanted to see that movie until I read this post – now I simply MUST see it, just to take in the house.
Love this movie and LOVE this house. Great post, thanks for sharing!
Absolutely love BOTH versions of the firehouse…in a weird split-personality sort of way. I love the energy of the movie version and the quietness of the real life version, but technically I wouldn’t choose to live in either because it looks like it is right smack dab in the city…and alas, I prefer the quiet of the countryside.Thanks for this post though, because now I want to read the books! Never knew there were any.
There’s a whole series of them, I believe. I spent the weekend reading the first one, which is what this movie was based on. Even though it’s technically a “Young Adult” book, I really enjoyed it. Found myself chuckling all the way through! 🙂
[email protected] says
I love the open layout of the movie version, but the colors and clutter are just too much for me. Would be a blast to paint large crazy canvases in, but no relaxing vibe there at all.
Speaking of painting 😉 the real life version is a blank canvas, in serious need of some color….and furniture. It looks too cold and uninviting as it stands now.
But if I HAD to pick, it would be the real life version 🙂
Anne Hathaway was “adorkable” ??? Hee, hee!
She really was! Ha. 🙂
Loved the books! Loved Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews in the movie, though it was pretty awful. But, I think I prefer the real firehouse. Really cool!
Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving says
I love this movie! I love Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway! I actually prefer the movie set to the sterile finished sets. Now, I want to go watch the movie again! 🙂
I’ve seen the movie quite a few times. Being on the quirky, creative side I’d go for the movie set design over the blank white canvas.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the same firehouse was used for the 1968 movie “The Love Bug” starring Dean Jones, Buddy Hackett, and Michele Lee. It was where the main character lived as well as the shop he worked on is little VW Beetle.
Oh, really?! I didn’t know that, but now that you mention it, I definitely see the resemblance!
I love the movie version so much better. I love a lot of stuff in a house, it makes it really homey. The real life version reminds me of a museum. I could never live in a house like that!
The firehouse lowered its price by 375k yesterday.
Fencing in Orange County says
Agree! This was an interesting post when I came across this beautiful house.Oudoors brings a cool environment in your dwelling. What a completely charming space. It is incredible, thank you for all the time you put into researching and sharing your posts Julia.