Lovecraft Country is a sprawling adventure that takes its central group of characters through Jim Crow America to occult hideouts, haunted houses, and even beyond the limits of space and time. The series boasts a variety of colorful settings in which our heroes come into contact with both the disturbingly real and racist as well as the fantastical and magical. Because of this unique mixing of down-to-earth and out-of-this-world, the crew utilized a mix of tangible, on-location sets and studio soundstages.
The show’s name, which is the same as the novel it’s based on, alludes to the fictional New England area in which most of author H.P. Lovecraft’s stories are based. Despite this, however, Chicago serves as a central setting on the show, although the mysterious Ardham in Devon County, Massachusetts, a nod to Lovecraft’s town of Arkham, plays a significant role in the first two episodes. The legacy of the place’s figurative and literal monsters, born out of ages-old prejudices and mystical rituals, haunts the characters through the rest of the series like a ghost.
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The elaborate set design on Lovecraft Country is meant to transport viewers to the 1950s and allow them to experience the life and beauty of Chicago’s black community, as well as the inherent threat of the neighboring white supremacists. However, the show makes liberal use of special effects in order to bring to life the more supernatural and outlandish elements of Lovecraft Country‘s narrative. It’s this concoction of the physical and the computer-generated that highlights the power of genre to both accurately capture historical drama but also transcend the limits of historical boundaries.
The giant mansion that Tic, Leti, and Uncle George confront at the end of the first episode is one of the grandest pieces of architecture on the show, a sprawling, Tudor-style residence with pointed archways, Gothic-like windows, and even a castle turret. The actual property is located in La Grange, Georgia, despite its lack of Southern aesthetics, and has previously been used as a wedding and events venue. The name is listed as Bisham Manor, though since it became a private residence its occupants prefer the original 1920s name of Alta Vista.
The place is turning into quite the television landmark, having already gained fame for its role as the namesake setting in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. Whereas Hill House shot interiors in a soundstage, the crew of Lovecraft Country actually went inside the manor for its wood hallway, staircase, and central fireplace room. However, the show still shot extensive scenes in a soundstage and incorporated CGI to increase the size and scale of the structure, namely to include the giant glass dome where the Sons of Adam perform their magical ritual.
The seemingly quaint Massachusetts town with racist evil bubbling just under the surface was actually shot in Elburn, Illinois, a far western suburb of Chicago. The crew constructed facades to transform the exteriors, but Elburn’s already well-preserved historic Main Street section is perfect for a period piece location. The diner that the characters stop at (only to barely escape with their lives once they learn of its forced change of ownership) is an events hall in real life called The Old Elburn Hall, complete with Wednesday night jazz performances. Additional scenes were shot in nearby Woodstock, Illinois, which can also be seen as the shooting location in Groundhog’s Day.
Devon County Woods
After the squad leaves the diner to go on a nerve-racking run through sundown town territory, they find themselves trapped in a nightmarish forest surrounded by violently racist cops and carnivorous Shoggoths. The spooky woods are the White Pines Forest State Park in Ogle County, Illinois, a recreational getaway with hiking trails and cabins but no eldritch creatures. The park is located in the Rock River Valley region and once fell under the jurisdiction of Sauk Native American leader Black Hawk. When the traumatized heroes leave their refuge cabin at the break of dawn, the shooting location switches to Conyers, Georgia, closer to Ardham Lodge’s real-world location.
The extravagant Winthrop House that Leti buys and rents out with her inheritance money in episode three is supposed to be located in the predominantly white North Side of Chicago, but the actual address is 155 Greenville Street in Atlanta, Georgia. Officially called the Parrott-Camp-Soucy House, the residence was first constructed in the 1840s as a single-story home, then went through numerous additions and changes of architectural style before becoming the grandiose Victorian monument it is today. The house was used in the filming for The Odd Life of Timothy Green, as well as its exteriors being the main facade for The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
Lovecraft Country makes sure to thoroughly explore the rich culture of Chicago’s African-American community, as well as the city’s violently prejudiced dark side. The thriving metropolis is where the show’s main characters are grounded, so the crew traveled to multiple areas and neighborhoods in order to increase the scale of the setting. The central street corner where we meet our heroes is the intersection of W 18 Street and S Laflin Street in Pilsen, heavily covered in facades to give the place a more 1950s feel. Pilsen is, in fact, located in the West Side of Chicago, not the South Side, but its working-class legacy and cultural importance have designated the neighborhood a Historic District.
On the other hand, the crew traveled to the North Side neighborhood of Lakeview to shoot backdrops, as well. L&L Tavern was transformed into “Denmark Vesey’s Bar” under Chicago’s elevated rail (the “L”). Fitting snugly in the show’s horror mold is the actual creepy backstory of the bar, which was reportedly a hangout for not one but two of America’s most notorious serial killers, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer. However, the department store that employs Ruby in her “disguise” in episode five is actually the Hurt Building, an 18-story skyscraper in Atlanta. Speaking of Atlanta…
Other Filming Locations in Lovecraft Country
The rest of Lovecraft Country‘s constructed sets were shot in Atlanta’s Blackhall Studios so the crew could be closer to their on-location shoots in the area. Georgia is a popular shooting location due to the state’s tax breaks, although Governor Brian Kemp’s controversial House Bill 481 (more popularly known as the “fetal heartbeat abortion bill”) was met with a wave of Hollywood backlash. Producers Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams have vowed to donate 100% of their individual episodic fees to Georgia’s ACLU and Fair Fight chapters. The studios were used for much of the latter half of the first season of Lovecraft Country as the show gets more fantastical, allowing the production designers to let their imaginations run wild.
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