Architecture and Entertainment/Light and Dark- A Little History, A Little TV and a LOT of Design.
It isn’t surprising that everyone, it seems, is buzzing about this season of American Horror Story: Coven. Created by television screenwriter, director, and producer giant, Ryan Murphy, this decadent and expertly styled show has already had two previous incarnations and story lines in the first two seasons, which generated just as much buzz. In it’s third “story” the plot takes viewers to New Orleans and the premise is centered around- you guessed it- a coven of witches whose story lines can be traced all the way back to Salem, MA.
With an over abundance of staple stars that are series regulars, the season also features cameos by industry peers of theirs that are of equal fame and celebrity. Setting the bar with a cast such as Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Angela Bassett along with even legendary musicians, like Stevie Nicks could make it a daunting task to find comparable set locations. However, in The Big Easy, there seems to be no problem housing the cast of witches under the guise of an exclusive all girls boarding school. A fabulously appointed, school, I might add.
The actual location was originally The Buckner Mansion, built in 1856 by cotton magnate Henry S. Buckner. The mansion was built to outdo his ex-business partner’s well-known Stanton Hall mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The Buckner Mansion has galleries on three sides, an amazing honeysuckle motif cast iron fence and a triple ballroom. The mansion served as a home to the Buckner family until 1923, when the prestigious Soule Business School moved in. Soule was the best business school in the South until it closed doors in 1983. The mansion is now a private residence and serves as “Miss Robicheaux’s Academy.”
The juxtaposition between the dark storyline of the central characters and the grand, light-filled mansion that is where the majority of the scenes are this season is nothing more than genius. The mansion, not just serving as camouflage for these “witches” on the series, but as a statement of artistic and directorial creative license directs us in an unexpected way to an almost ethereal atmosphere by not just giving us a glimpse into the mansion, but showcasing its stunning design elements and introducing it as a crucial part of the show and a MAJOR design tour de force. It’s stunning interiors, painted all white, with white floors, and had dark outlined furniture and dark artwork, the set invokes a glacial, icy cool palate. It’s haunting yet gorgeous. The pictures are worth a thousand words…