When it comes to film and TV, few places are as iconic as the home of Batman & Robin. From the bright yellow house with the black windows, to the gadgets and gizmos tucked away in every corner; the things that you know and love about Batman’s lair will never disappear from our hearts (even if the actors do). Sadly, it was not always this way. After more than 70 years of living in the same address, the Caped Crusader’s fictional home had to make way for newer, fancier digs. In the pages that follow, we take a look back at the transformation of Wayne Manor (as it was then known) and what it cost those who called it home.
When production on the 1966 Batman film began, the only thing standing between the camera and the house was a demolition crew. The production designer, Les Dilley, had to fight tooth and nail to save the place. As it turned out, saving the mansion wasn’t a total loss. Dilley managed to salvage a lot of the original design and incorporated it into the look of the new house, which replaced the original building (destroyed in a fight scene, no less).
What was supposed to be a simple demolition turned into a massive battle for the preservation of a beloved childhood home. Thankfully, the crew won the day, and the house was saved. The only thing that remained from the original building was a brick wall and some plaid painted on the exterior, which can still be found there today.
The challenge for the next phase of the renovation was to not only bring the house up to date with modern conveniences, but to do it in a way that respected the spirit of the original design. This is where architect, Charles Hargrove, came in. Hargrove, who also worked on the set of the 2016 film, visited the house daily and was able to incorporate a lot of his knowledge and expertise into the design and renovation process. One of the main features that Hargrove designed into the house was a series of rooftop terraces that would allow residents to escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
The first of these was furnished with a table, chairs, and a grill for those hot summer days, and could also be configured to suit smaller parties or meetings. The terrace, which overlooks the whole of Gotham City, was a brilliant idea. It would have been easy for Hargrove to design a house with a glass wall that would have allowed anyone standing next to it to see what was going on inside the fortress. As it turns out, this is exactly what he did. The glass wall, in fact, became a feature in several of the house’s rooms.
While Hargrove worked on renovating the premises, interior designer, Michael Scudamore, put together a plan to completely revamp and update the look of the house. The plan called for the addition of a swimming pool and tennis court, as well as a fully equipped fitness center. It was on this front that Wayne Enterprises stepped in, providing the necessary funds to see Scudamore’s vision come to life.
Work on the fitness center began, with weights and other workout equipment being delivered to the house. This part of the plan turned out to be rather problematic, as an archeological dig in the garage uncovered several skeletons, which set back the project by several months. In the end, the fitness center was located in the basement, behind a wall. It was not open to the public, like the rest of the house, and the nearest gym to the mansion is at least a half-hour drive away.
While the inside of the house was being renovated, the outside was being tackled, as well. Scudamore designed the deck, which was built behind the brick wall that held the fitness center, as an extension of the living room. This gave the owners of the house, the Wayne family, the ability to enjoy the outdoors from both the deck and the living room, with the addition of plants and flowers to give the outdoor space a more natural look.
The deck, which measures an impressive 50 feet by 30 feet, features an outdoor fireplace for those chilly nights, as well as seating for up to eight people. It also has a fully equipped kitchen for those who want to cook while enjoying the fresh air.
The pool, meanwhile, was moved off-site and into its own private yard, featuring an outdoor shower and changing area. This allowed the pool to be cleaned without having to head indoors, as well as giving the water some time to settle before entering the house. It was while cleaning the pool that the producers of the 1966 Batman film discovered an artifact from the site of the original Wayne Manor. The artifact turned out to be a lead pipe, which helped them identify the exact spot the house had stood on prior to its demolition. It is now held in a museum, along with several others that were discovered during the filming of the film. These included a bullet mould, an automatic pistol grip, and a small armor plating, among others.
What was supposed to be a modest mansion, built in the early 20s, held the secrets to Batman’s past and, eventually, would lead to the creation of one of the most recognizable addresses in pop culture.