‘The Waltons’: The Original Home Was Reportedly Set on Fire by a Serial Arsonist

Plenty of television viewers from the 1970s adored The Waltons. The show followed a family living in rural Virginia during the Great Depression era, and it showcased how they all supported each other through the hard times.

While the characters had their fair share of ups and downs, the set took a hit as well. A serial arsonist reportedly set fire to the original home on the show. Here’s what happened

‘The Waltons’ set took place on a tropical set known as ‘the jungle’

Actor Will Geer as Grandpa Walton dancing a jig in front of the Walton house on 'The Waltons'
Actor Will Geer as Grandpa Walton dancing a jig in front of the Walton house on ‘The Waltons’ | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Like a few other shows at the time, The Waltons utilized “the jungle” as its set. MeTV notes “the jungle” was a Warner Bros. studio built to look like lush and jungle-like, and it was originally created for the 1956 film Santiago.

On the north side of the set, a two-story farmhouse with three windows on the upper level was constructed. The house also featured a porch below the windows, and a red barn was placed next to the farmhouse. The house was known as Doonevan Flats, and it was first used on Mayberry R.F.D.

After Mayberry, that same farmhouse was used for The Waltons. Earl Hamner Jr., the creator of the show who based the storyline off of his own life experiences, saw the farmhouse and thought it looked a lot like his childhood home in Virginia. The exterior of the house was then painted white to make it look even more like what Hamner had in mind.

The farmhouse used on the show was set on fire by a serial arsonist

'The Waltons'
‘The Waltons’ | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

While the home used in The Waltons was well-known amongst fans, it was destroyed in a fire. According to The Orlando Sentinel in 1991, the blaze was set by an arsonist. The arsonist in question allegedly splashed a flammable substance on a chicken coop on the set, and the flames spread from there to the home. Overall, the arson caused over $200,000 in damages before studio firefighters could extinguish the flame.

The New York Daily News reported John Orr as the arsonist. Prior to anyone knowing of his crimes, Orr was the chief arson investigator for the Glendale Fire Department. It was estimated that he started around 2,000 fires, which resulted in the deaths of four people.

It seems part of the way he was caught was through his desire to be a best-selling novelist. Orr wrote a book, Points of Origin, that was about a firefighter who found arson sexually thrilling.

The house was later rebuilt on a different lot

Richard Thomas as John Boy Walton on 'The Waltons'
Richard Thomas as John Boy Walton on ‘The Waltons’ | CBS via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘The Waltons’: John-Boy Walton Actor Richard Thomas Said the Dinner Scenes Were ‘A Nightmare to Shoot’

While the original house of the Waltons took a serious hit, it was later rebuilt. MeTV notes the second farmhouse was built on a different Warner Bros. lot altogether.

While the famous Virginia family finished out their days in the new place, that same set also became the set for Gilmore Girls. In the show, Lorelai Gilmore purchases the home and makes it into the Dragonfly Inn.

Kami Cotler, the actor who played Elizabeth Walton, talked about both of the homes, too. “One difference between the original set and the post-fire set is the number of steps going to the porch,” she said in an interview, according to All About the Waltons. “The porch on the original set was raised and there were three or four steps up. I think the post-fire set had fewer steps up.”

Now, Gilmore Girls fans and Mayberry R.F.D. fans alike can spot either home featured in The Waltons.

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