The Story Behind the 'Golden Girls' House That's Now Up for Sale (Exclusive)
By Jackie Willis
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Before it became the location for one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, Justin Barry lived in the house where the Golden Girls made America laugh for well over a decade.
James, 65, is a beneficiary of the trust of the home, where he also grew up. His parents, David Noble Barry III and his wife, Margaret Carr Barry, built the house in 1955 and lived there until their deaths -- David died in 2017 and Margaret in 2019.
The house is now on the market and expected to sell for at least $2.9 million. Rachelle Rosten of Douglas Elliman holds the listing.
"They built it when I was first born and I lived there till I moved out in my 20s," James told ET's Nischelle Turner. "It's my family home."
James recalled that a location scout for the Golden Girls -- which aired from 1985 to 1992 -- noticed their home in Brentwood, California, from the street and approached his parents about using it for the series. The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom residence has long been surrounded by exotic plants, which provided a great background for the sitcom, which was set in Miami. The house is famous for its blend of Hawaiian and Japanese styling.
Only the exterior of the house was used for filming, while the interior was a sound stage that was modeled on the floor plan of the residence itself.
"The house had an allure because it was full of tropical plants, palms, exotic things. My grandfather owned a nursery coop a mile down the road, Exotic Jungle Gardens, and he used to travel the world collecting plants and bring them back and grow them. My father had the same interest in plants as well. He crossbred orchids and things like that. So they love the tropics," he said of his family. "They loved the plants and the house had kind of a close Miami feel to it, where the show was [set]. That's how they kind of saw it from the outside and approached us. [My parents said,] 'Sure. We'll go ahead and do it.'"
While the house is now iconic, the family didn't make a lot of money off of it being featured on the sitcom. "[My parents got a] small, one-time fee. I think they probably gave them an additional small fee when they rebuilt a facsimile of the house on the studio lot in Florida, because they did take the original architectural plans from the home and used those to build the full card that they used for filming."
After all these years, James says Golden Girls fans still come by the house "all the time."
"There's a story I like to tell where someone came and knocked on the door and asked my mother if he could propose to his girlfriend on our driveway because she was a huge Golden Girls fan. So she said yes," James recollected. "My mom came out and and provided them with a little champagne after they got engaged on our driveway."
James says the couple now "follows up with a nice letter and a Christmas card every year."
In addition to Golden Girls viewers coming by the house, James' family also receives quite a bit of fan mail, sometimes even addressed to the characters themselves.
"We got a letter just two weeks ago in the mail and it was really moving for me to read because it was a young gentleman just saying that he was going through a tough time and that show really helped to get him through moments in his life where he was feeling really down," James shared. "He wanted to thank [Golden Girls] for bringing light to his life at a point where he felt he really needed to be uplifted. I just thought, 'Wow, that is really meaningful and so heartfelt.'"
He added, "You kind of feel that sense from the people that come to see the house. It resonates with them on this deeper level. ...I think that it just has transcended time and it speaks to the youth today too that come out and take their pictures and it means something to them."
It's James' hope that whoever ends up purchasing the house that they "prefer to keep the house as it is -- iconic and unchanged."
"[We want] someone who will fall in love with the architecture and the house and the feel of it and everything and keep it just the way it is and grow up like I did," he added.