Where is the house in “Meet Me in St. Louis”? Where was it filmed? – Meet Me in St. Louis is a 1944 American Christmas musical film directed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It tells the tale of a year in the life of the Smith family in St. Louis leading up to the inauguration of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (better widely known as the World’s Fair) in the spring of 1904. It is divided into a series of seasonal vignettes, beginning with Summer 1903. Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main, June Lockhart, and Joan Carroll star in the picture.
Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe developed the film from a collection of short tales by Sally Benson called “The Kensington Stories,” which were first published in The New Yorker magazine and later converted into a novel called Meet Me in St. Louis. Vincente Minnelli, who met Garland on the set and eventually married her, directed the film. The film’s art director was Tony Award-winning designer Lemuel Ayers.
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“Meet Me in St. Louis” Plot Summary
The film is set in St. Louis, Missouri, in the year leading up to the World’s Fair of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The Smith family lives a comfortable upper-middle-class life in the summer of 1903. Rose, Esther, Agnes, and Tootie are Alonzo Smith’s four daughters, and Lon Jr. is their son. Esther, the second-oldest daughter, is head over heels in love with John Truett, the kid next door, even though he initially ignores her. Tootie goes on a journey with iceman Mr. Neely, debating whether St. Louis is the best city in the country. Rose, the eldest daughter, waits for Warren Sheffield to propose to her in vain.
Esther meets John for the first time when he is a guest at the Smiths’ party, and she hopes to see him again on a trolley ride to the World’s Fair building site. Tootie and Agnes go to a bonfire on Halloween. Tootie later says that John tried to kill her after she emerged with a split lip and missing teeth. Esther approaches John, criticizing and physically assaulting him. Tootie and Agnes admit the truth after Esther returns: John tries to protect them from the cops after a deadly prank goes wrong. Esther apologizes to John after learning the truth, and they have their first kiss.
Mr. Smith says that he will be sent on a business trip to New York City and that they will all be moving there after Christmas. The news has devastated the family, particularly Rose and Esther, whose love, friendships, and educational aspirations have all been jeopardized. Esther is also upset since they won’t be unable to attend the World’s Fair. Mrs. Smith is also sad, but she and her husband reconcile and sing a beautiful duet at the piano.
On Christmas Eve, an elaborate ball is held. John cannot accompany Esther since he cannot pick up his tuxedo in time. When Esther’s grandfather offers to accompany her to the ball instead, she is relieved. Esther and Rose plan to ruin Warren’s girlfriend Lucille Ballard’s evening at the ball by filling her dance schedule with losers. They are taken aback when they discover Lucille is kind, friendly, and not a snob.
She argues that Warren should be with Rose, allowing her to be with Lon. Esther replaces Lucille’s dance card and takes on the clumsy and awkward partners. Esther is pleased when John appears in a tuxedo after being saved by Grandpa, and they dance for the remainder of the evening. Esther accepts John’s proposal later, but their future is uncertain because she still has to move to New York.
When Esther gets home, Tootie is waiting excitedly for Santa Claus and is concerned about whether she will be able to bring all of her toys to New York with her. An inconsolable Tootie destroys the snowmen they must leave behind after Esther’s moving recital of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Tootie is reassured by Esther, who assures her that they will be together no matter where they go. Mr. Smith begins to have second thoughts after seeing the girls outside.
He invites the family downstairs after thinking in the living room and declares they will not be moving to New York, much to everyone’s astonishment and delight. Warren rushes into the Smith residence, declaring his love for Rose and promising they will marry as soon as possible. The Smiths celebrate Christmas after realizing it has arrived.
The family gathers in front of the Great Lagoon at the World’s Fair as thousands of lights around the grand pavilion are turned on.
Filming Locations for “Meet Me In St. Louis” Movie
The entire film ‘Meet Me In St. Louis’ was shot in and around California. The film’s principal photography began in December 1943 and ended in April 1944. As cinematographer George J. Folsey (‘Forbidden Planet’) joined the crew. Simultaneously, Edwin B. Willis, the set decorator from ‘Singin In The Rain,’ joined the team as a set decorator. Now, let us take you to the particular sites where the film was shot!
Los Angeles County, California
Sally Benson, who lived in a beautiful Victorian house at 5135 Kensington before moving to New York with the rest of her family, inspired the film. Unfortunately, Benson’s home in St. Louis was razed in 1994 following years of neglect. However, you might be able to discover similar Grand Victorian buildings if you walk down Kensington Avenue.
The producers chose to build extravagant sets for the film. Most of the filming took place at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (now Sony Pictures Plaza), a legendary Golden Age Hollywood studio located at 10202 West Washington Boulevard in the Culver City suburbs of Los Angeles County. MGM built Kensington Avenue in a studio backlot, with magnificent dwelling homes on both sides.
The set was also included in family movies like ‘Cheaper By The Dozen,’ which was familiar with the facility as St. Louis Street. However, visiting the set in person may be more difficult than it appears. Both the backlot and the house were razed in 1970, so they no longer exist. MGM was in financial problems; therefore, most of the land, including the backlot at St. Louis Street, was auctioned off. But don’t be concerned.
Lot 3, where the set was built, is still open to the public. The studio property, which is spread out over 80 acres, includes a large lake. The crew also shot external scenes on the set in addition to those within the house. The La Grande Station was another major site in the film. The terminal, which was once located between 2nd Street and Santa Fe Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, was decommissioned in May 1939.