5 faves | mary richards’ apartment
Why Mary Richards’ bachelorette pad became the 4th girlfriend on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’.
When the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’‘ premiered in September 1970, it received mixed reviews, mostly due to sexist norms that still existed in our culture. A TV series about a 30-year old single career woman who was actually happy with her life? What’s so aspirational about that? Well, it turned out, lots. To this day, women recount stories of religiously watching the show every Saturday night, tuning in to see how Mary hilariously dealt with work and relationships, while also coveting her clothes and her home. In fact, the apartment became a character in its own right, the fourth girlfriend hanging out with Mary, Rhoda and Phyllis. A third-floor flat in a Queen Anne Victorian, the show’s original script described the abode as:
‘A room. Actually, an entire apartment, but a single large room. There are some — mostly of the working-girl variety — that would consider this place a “great find”: ten-foot ceilings, pegged wood floors, a wood-burning fireplace, and, most important, a fantastic ceiling-height corner window.’
Rent was $130/ month (raised to $145 a few seasons in), and while American women might not have been able to find quite as good a deal on an apartment, they could most certainly be inspired by the decor, a mish mash of modern 70s style (shag rug, rattan furniture) and personalized knick knacks (how many ladies bought a wooden initial like Mary’s famous M?). Although the interiors were filmed in a Hollywood studio, the actual house seen in the opening credits is located at 2104 Kenwood Ave. in Minneapolis and was built in 1892. When the show became a hit, tourists kept turning up to gawk at the home. But by season 5, the homeowners were fed up with the crowds and posted an ‘Impeach Nixon’ sign in the front yard so the producers could no longer film exteriors. That is when Mary moved into a more generic high-rise apartment in downtown Minneapolis. Still, her original digs remain iconic and influential. Here are some of our favorite features.
Mary’s sunken living room was outfitted with shelving built into a very peculiar place: the step. In the first season, Mary used a stool to walk up and down the levels (which you can see below), but before season 2, the set design was changed and actual carpeted stairs were put into place. But those space-saving book cases are clever, even if you have to get on your knees to find a book.
Look in the back there at the little setting in front of the window on the left. How much do you love that yellow rattan bubble chair? And it only gets better with the little cube and globe lamp. This cozy nook lasted three seasons, until the furniture was replaced with a cafe table and chairs in season 4. We’re still not sure who the handsome man in the photo is, though.
Despite its small size, Mary’s kitchen was packed with quirky details, in particular the stained glass pull-down shade that created privacy (though Mary rarely ever utilized it). Also fall in love with the pink and purple tea towel hanging in the back there and the dorm-sized fridge beneath the counter. There was plenty of space for dishes and tableware, not much for food, though. (We guess this is how Mary stayed so slim!)
Oh, Mary’s closet! Well, it’s not really a closet, more like a walk-through with a rack that leads to the bathroom that we’ve never seen. Peering into this closet, we try to see Mary’s clothes and luggage, and imagine what it looks like on the other side of the bathroom door. We’re convinced this space inspired Carrie Bradshaw’s NYC walk-in from ‘Sex & the City’.
Probably the best part of Mary’s pad is its close proximity to Rhoda. And Rhoda’s converted attic space was teeny, tiny but decked out exactly how you’d expect from a arty, eccentric lady who dresses department store windows: bright pink with a beaded curtain, fringe lampshades, and psychedelic wall art. The joint clashes with color and texture, the visual opposite of Mary’s neatnik apartment. They were yin and yang in both personality and style, which is why they got along so well and why we love them both!