Desperate Housewives was an ABC hour-long show that aired from 2004 to 2012 for 8 seasons. The show mixed comedy, drama, and mystery to tell the story of characters who live on a seemingly quiet suburban street. The series starred a group of highly regarded cast, such as Teri Hatcher, Vanessa Williams, Alfre Woodard, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria.
To film the quaint suburban setting of Wisteria Lane, the show’s production settled on the Colonial Street backot at Universal Studios. This area featured a series of houses on a backlot, allowing the show to film as needed, without having to shut down public streets. The street featured a number of well-known houses from shows like Leave It To Beaver and The Munsters. It was also featured in the Tom Hanks movie The Burbs.
The first season largely made use of the Colonial Street as it existed, and did not feature the cul-de-sac at the end. Once the show was a hit and renewed for a second season, the show’s budget allowed for the show to make significant changes to the street. Cosmetic changes to several houses were made, and a mansion on the cul-de-sac was removed to add a park area.
The Universal Studios Tours
I’ve had the chance to visit the street a couple times. A great way to see the street is to take a Universal Studios Tour. When you visit the theme park you can take the Studio Tram Tour, a one hour narrated tour in a large tram. You can also book a VIP Tour, which is a guided tour in a small group. It is operated on a small trolley bus, and lets you out to walk around in several areas of the backlot. You can read about both tour options here.
Let’s take a look at the houses on the street. Keep in mind that Desperate Housewives finished filming in 2012, and some of the houses have been modified since then. I’m going to list them counter clockwise, which would be the way you would see them on the tram tour. This map courtesy of the Desperate Housewives Wiki.
4344 Wisteria Lane (not pictured on map)
The first house on the lane is number 4344. There are no featured characters who live here.
4346 Wisteria Lane
House 4346 is another house where no major characters live. Mona Clarke and her family live briefly in this house later in the series.
4348 Wisteria Lane
This house belongs to Rose Kemper. Once she leaves the street, no other residents are mentioned.
4350 Wisteria Lane
This house originally belonged to Martha Huber, a widow. When Edie’s house burns down in the pilot, Edie movies in with Martha. After Martha’s murder, her sister Felicia moves into the house. Later in the series, it’s mentioned that the house is owned by a couple by the name of Addams. In season 5, Bree buys the house for her son Andrew and his husband Alex to live in.
4352 Wisteria Lane
This is the house that Mary Alice and Paul Young lived in with their son Zach. While Mary Alice died in the first episode of the series, she remained as narrator for the full series. The first two seasons explore her story and significantly feature her husband and son.
Other residents of the house include Art and Rebecca Shepard, Mrs. Hudson, Mike Delfino, and Angie and Nick Bolen, before Paul Young ends up moving back into the house.
If the house they live in looks familiar, it’s popularly known as the Leave It To Beaver house. It’s actually not the original house from the TV series, but was built for the filming of the 1997 movie.
4354 Wisteria Lane
This house belongs to Bree Van De Kamp throughout the series. She initially lives here with her husband Rex and children Andrew and Danielle. Bree later marries Orson Lodge who lives with her here.
4356 Wisteria Lane
This house is most well known for where Mike Delfino lived for several years. It is also where Katherine Mayfair lived. The house changed hands a lot, and some other residents include Carlos Solis, Robin Gallagher, and Felicia Tilman.
4358 Wisteria Lane
Number 4358 is the house belonging to Karen McCluskey. It later belonged briefly to Orson Hodge, Porter and Preston Scavo, and finally Roy Bender. This house has a full interior, so these shots were not done on a soundstage.
4360 Wisteria Lane
This house on Wisteria Lane had no notable characters from the series living here.
4362 Wisteria Lane
This house belonged to Edie Britt for much of the series. It then becomes the home of Renee Perry. The house was burnt down by Susan in the first episode, and is rebuilt with a new design. In reality, this area of Colonial Street didn’t exist, but once the show was successful, they added this second starting in season 2.
4355 Wisteria Lane
This house belongs to Lynette and Tom Scavo and their children. As main characters, this house is prominently featured throughout the entire series.
4353 Wisteria Lane
Number 4353 belongs to Susan Mayer throughout most of the series, along with Mike, daughter Julie, and son MJ at times. In season 7, Susan and family move out, and the house is occupied by Paul Young. After a while, Susan and family move back in.
4351 Wisteria Lane
In season 2, Betty Applewood and her son Matthew move in. It’s later discovered that they keep her other son Caleb locked in the basement. In season 4, Lee McDermott and Bob Hunter move in, and remain until the end of the series. They also adopt a daughter, Jenny, who lives here as well.
This house was memorable as the house in The Munsters, with an address of 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Because of it’s notoriety, the house was not shown in season one. When it was needed for season two, the house was remodeled to look more generic.
4349 Wisteria Lane
This is the home belonging to Gabrielle and Carlos Solis through the entire series, along with their children. Carlos does move out briefly when he divorces Gabrielle, but they later reconcile and he moves back in.
4347 Wisteria Lane
The house at number 4347 is where Ida Greenberg lives until her death in season four. In season six, Mitzi Kinsky moves in and remains through the end of the series.
Like most series, many of the interior shots are filmed on soundstages. Sets are built inside the soundstages, allowing the crew to control filming and not be interrupted. Desperate Housewives used stages 1, 3, 4, 5, and 41 at Universal Studios.
In the Season 6, Episode 17 episode “Chromolume No. 7”, Gabby and Angie travel to New York to track down Angie’s son, Danny. They end up visiting her mother’s house. This was filmed on the backlot at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Universal’s backlot had a large fire in 2008, and it’s New York Street was mostly destroyed. This is likely why they used the facilities at Paramount.
The shop seen behind the characters as they approach was also seen as the Cake Shop in the movie Bridesmaids.