Home & Garden

Here’s your chance to see inside the ‘Lady Bird’ house (and gardens, too)

The backyard of the “Lady Bird” house is a featured stop on the garden tour.
The backyard of the “Lady Bird” house is a featured stop on the garden tour. apayne@sacbee.com

For six months, movie fans have been walking, running, biking and driving by the East Sacramento home of Chris and Amy Wood. On tours or alone, these visitors take selfies while posing on the sidewalk or occasionally on the front steps, poised to knock on the front door.

“People are still interested in stopping by,” said Chris Wood, a little astonished by this phenomenon. “Most are pretty respectful; some don’t understand boundaries – we’ve had people walk right in (the door). But it’s not a prop; we live here!”

Such is life at the big blue house featured in the hit movie “Lady Bird.”

“If they do peek inside, they get to see a lot of action,” he added. “We have four kids age 5 and under.”

In the heart of the Fabulous Forties, the handsome two-story home on 44th Street has become a magnet for people interested in “Lady Bird” and its many Sacramento locations. Filmmaker Greta Gerwig, herself a Sacramento native, shot several scenes in her semi-autobiographical movie on this beautiful shaded street.

Painted federal blue, the house had its own star turn as the dream home of Lady Bird McPherson, the movie’s teen-age protagonist played by Saoirse Ronan.

Family, friends and fans lined up outside Tower Theatre in Sacramento on Sunday night (October 30, 2017) for the local premiere of Sacramento-native Greta Gerwig’s autobiographical film “Lady Bird.” She spoke to the audience before and after the f

Next weekend, visitors will get a chance to do what Lady Bird never did in the movie – hang out in the backyard. The house and its gardens are the star attraction on the 20th annual East Sacramento Home and Garden Tour.

Set for May 12 and 13, the popular tour will bring more than 2,000 people to this neighborhood to see seven homes at their spring finest in what has become a Mother’s Day weekend tradition. Proceeds benefit the neighborhood’s David Lubin School.

“That’s why we’re part of this tour,” Wood said. “We want to support our local schools.”

With demanding careers as well as a houseful of kids, the couple are extremely busy. (Chris is a trial attorney and partner in the Sacramento law firm Dreyer, Babich, Buccola, Wood, Campora LLP. Amy is a teacher.) Yet, they embraced the opportunity to share their now-famous house.

“They were so kind and on board almost immediately with the idea (of being on the tour),” said Lubin principal Richard Dixon. “This is the tour’s 20th year; that’s a special thing and we wanted to celebrate that. All seven homes including this one are first timers on our tour. People want to see something they haven’t seen before.”

At this stop, expect to see a real family home, not a movie set – or a designer showcase, Wood added. The Woods have four children: Twins Jameson and Henry, both 5; Lila, 3; and William, 11 months.

The Woods have lived in the home for about two years. Before that, they spent a full year remodeling.

“The original house had four small bedrooms and one tiny upstairs bathroom – for the whole house,” Wood said. “Can you imagine?”

In their careful remodel, the Woods added a lot of plumbing: Three more bathrooms to go along with bigger reconfigured bedrooms plus a new kitchen. Yet from the sidewalk, the stately house looks much as it did when it was built in 1922.

“We kept the color, too,” Wood said. “It’s always been the big blue house.”

Its distinctive good looks is why Gerwig literally came knocking to ask if she could use the home as a location for her movie. It took four trips to get to yes.

Anabel “Abby” Ayala, nanny to the Woods’ four children, answered the door each time.

“Greta who? I don’t know who she is,” Ayala said with a laugh. “I never think that this would be a big deal with the Oscars and stuff.”

The critically-acclaimed movie "Lady Bird" gives Sacramento lots of recognizable screen time.

“Lady Bird” received five Academy Award nominations and put Gerwig on the cover of Time magazine. But when Gerwig was scouting locations, she was still not a household name, even in her hometown.

“I knew who Saoirse Ronan was, but I wasn’t really familiar with Greta,” Chris Wood said.

“When Greta come by the first time, I told her (the Woods) weren’t home,” Ayala recalled. “She said she really loved the home and would come back. Two or three days later, she come again, but they still weren’t here. Then, she come again. I told her, sorry, they’re still not here.

“So, Greta made this big note that explained everything, went into a lot of detail,” she added. “She really wanted this house!”

That still didn’t seal the deal. Gerwig made one more visit, accompanied by her mother and bearing a scrapbook filled with articles and photos to prove that she was an actual actress and filmmaker, Ayala said.

Soon afterward, the Woods agreed to let their home be part of “Lady Bird.” Filming took place in October 2016.

“We still didn’t know what would happen,” Wood said. “But it all turned out very nice.”

20th annual East Sacramento Home and Garden Tour

Where: Start at David Lubin School, 3535 M St., Sacramento

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13

Admission: $20 in advance; $25 on tour weekend

Details: www.davidlubingardentour.com

20th annual East Sacramento Home and Garden Tour

Where: Start at David Lubin School, 3535 M St., Sacramento

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. next Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13

Admission: $20 in advance; $25 on tour weekend

Details: www.davidlubingardentour.com

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