Last week, the real-life Creel House that starred in season four of Stranger Things went under contract. The asking price was $1.5 million. Though listing agents at Toles, Temple & Wright are tightlipped about the buyer, we got some details from the departing owners about their history with the 1880s Second Empire–style mansion—and how it landed on the smash-hit Netflix thriller.
When the current owners, Shane Fatland and Bryan Schreier, saw the house for sale back in 2019, it was already something of an Internet star.
The couple, who lived in a similarly dramatic Victorian in Minnesota at the time, saw the listing while scrolling old-house blogs on social media, and immediately booked a flight to check it out. The couple were captivated by its scale and unique original details, from its heavily corniced mansard roof to unpainted woodwork and ornate plaster molding. They were looking for a change and warmer weather, and spontaneously made an offer, purchasing the house for $350,000. “That was the impact this house had,” says Fatland. “It was just—chef’s kiss—perfect. It was just shocking to see the grandeur. We were just walking around saying ‘holy shit, holy shit.’ Everything was in this time capsule—you just don’t see this. It was always about the house.”
But it was a major project.
The massive house had been operating as a bed and breakfast and had fallen into disrepair. But Schreier and Fatland, who works as a contractor and runs a design-build company called Old Made, had embarked on this sort of renovation before; it’s their third Victorian. Still, the scale was huge. There was significant deferred maintenance. Plaster was falling from the ceilings. “The electrical was terrifying,” says Fatland. They spent the better part of two years restoring it. It was reported they spent $500,000, but the couple insist it’s hard to quantify the amount, since Fatland worked full-time doing much of the labor himself. “We spent a fortune on this house,” he says. “We almost don’t want to know.”
They stripped painted wood inside and restored the house to its original exterior paint colors, carefully restored the looming original windows, and painstakingly touched up plaster. They created a modern but traditional kitchen and bathrooms, always intending the home to be their full-time residence.
The pair were lured to the house for its innate spookiness.
“We’re very drawn to the Psycho house, Addams Family style,” Fatland jokes. (The Bates House from Psycho was reportedly an inspiration for the Creel House.) “We like our fixtures with crystal. We like candelabras and candlelight—things that are dramatic, a little on the dark side.” Quips Schreier: “Haunted-mansion chic.’” 906 East 2nd Avenue fit the bill.
Netflix was enchanted by its eerie charm too.
Just a month or so after Fatland and Schreier moved in, the location manager (who the couple believe had seen the home’s earlier listing too) showed up asking about filming at the house, but they couldn’t disclose what. Fatland and Schreier moved forward with it, although, “We thought it was going to be some horrible C-list horror flick,” says Fatland. When they found out it was for Stranger Things, well into the process, they freaked out. “We’re huge Winona Ryder fans,” says Schreier. “We loved it.”
Crews got to work quickly to “set and dress” the house for Stranger Things, a tricky thing since the couple had been working on a renovation. “Bryan spent months removing wallpaper, and then Netflix came in wallpapered over the plaster again,” says Fatland. “It was kind of a sick joke.” The 1950s scenes were filmed on location at the Rome mansion: the lights flickering, the Creel family around the dining room table, Victor Creel standing over his dead family in the foyer. For the 1980s scenes of the abandoned house, the crew carefully boarded over windows and faux-distressed siding, and for the Upside Down, they choked it in vines—all practical effects created with a lot of museum putty, foam, and velcro, so as to not damage the house. “These were artisans,” says Fatland. “They were amazing and they really cared.”
The couple was asked to let their yard get tremendously overgrown (“It was embarrassing for a while for sure,” says Schreier, who says neighbors were offering landscape services.) Crews added more overgrown shrubs and dead plants. “If it weren’t for the community we cared about, we probably would have left it,” they joke. “We loved it.”
Netflix also completely recreated the house on an Atlanta soundstage—down to the most minute laser measurement. Attic scenes and many of the 1980s scenes were filmed there. Fatland and Schreier say visiting the near-perfect model of their home—including windows with old wavy glass, mantels, the grand staircase—was surreal, but it would all be scrapped in the end. Fatland and Schreier weren’t even allowed to keep a newel post as a souvenir—but Netflix did give them the schematics.
It’s (probably) not haunted.
As for any lingering signs of Vecna—or anything else paranormal—the couple say they haven’t seen any indication. “We never hear things go bump in the night,” says Shreier. “The house is built like a tank,” adds Fatland. “It doesn’t creak.” But—the couple notes—the attic door seems to always be mysteriously open, even when known to have been closed. “The attic door shuts perfectly well and latches well,” says Fatland, “but the darn thing is always open. That’s probably the only thing.” As if that weren’t enough.