Inside The House That Plays Starring Role In 'August: Osage County'

Thursday, October 24th 2013, 10:06 pm
By: News On 6

Movie lovers in Oklahoma are getting a big present this Christmas Day--the long-awaited release of "August: Osage County."

The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tulsa native Tracy Letts.

And along with a dazzling cast of Hollywood's finest, it also showcases a house that has a fascinating history of its own.

We got an exclusive, inside look at what the rest of the world is waiting to see.

The year 1918 brought us Tarzan, Mae West, Rin Tin Tin, and in Oklahoma, a three-story beauty that rose out of the tallgrass prairie of Osage County. It too, was destined to be a star.

Mitch Boulanger never actually lived in the house that bears his family's name, but he knows every inch of it.

"This is where they would come to have their hoedown, their dances. They'd have the windows open and they would play music all night, I hear," Mitch said.

The Boulanger house started life as a mail-order bride, listed for $2,065 in the Sears Roebuck catalog.

9/24/2012 Related Story: 'August: Osage County' Makes History In Boulanger

After hauling his prize to Osage County, Mitch's grandfather, Isaac Walter Boulanger, added the house's signature touch--huge white pillars and the wrap around porches embracing both the first and second floors.

Mitch never knew I.W., but can't help but admire his style.

"Having him being one of the first persons to do this and have this brought in was pretty spectacular for the time," Mitch said.

The "big house" wasn't I.W.'s only mark on Osage County. Flush with cash from the tribe's mineral rights, he built a whole town, with a business district, a school and even his own ball team.

10/10/2012 Related Story: Movie Crew Does Some Rearranging In Small Oklahoma Town

"They had the Osage Reds baseball team, which was just really cool," Mitch said.

But in the mid-1920s, fire wiped out the town of Boulanger in a single evening. I.W. pulled up stakes and moved to Kansas.

But the house stayed in the family. I.W. sold it to his nephew. And his son, Bob Boulanger, grew up there.

Bob said the place hasn't changed much, although the new bedroom wallpaper is easy to spot in the movie clips. And the woodwork was gussied up, too.

Bob's family lived there until 1983, when the house sold and passed out of Boulanger hands. With a series of new owners, it grew shabbier year-by-year, until last spring, when in swooped Hollywood.

"This is in the trailer, and its a scene where a lot of the discussions of family, and some of the bad things about family come out," Mitch said.

The old house's dining room is at the heart of "August: Osage County." And it's there the movie crew made some of their most striking changes, adding a mural that's actually a super-sized digital photograph, they simply pasted to the wall. And then there's the story of the big oak tree out front, which used to be the big oak tree out back.

"It had to cost them huge bucks to put that tree in there," Darrell Boulanger said.

Moving it to the front yard was a production in itself, requiring a series of huge cranes that were followed by swarms of assistants to glue on extra leaves.

The Boulanger boys were amused by the commotion, but not necessarily impressed by what they saw.

When asked if he's excited to see the film, Darrell Boulanger said, "Uh, to be honest, not really."

He said he's not a Hollywood guy.

"I'm a Boulanger person, is what I am," Darrell said.

Still, the home's new history is undeniably glamourous, closets still stuffed with fancy clothes, and familiar places turning up in movie trailers filled with stars.

9/13/2013 Related Story: New Trailer For 'August: Osage County' Shows More Of Green Country

Even Darrell developed a soft spot for Julia Roberts, after watching her mingle with some waiting fans.

"Pretty soon, Julia came down there and she was friendly and she got out and hugged them and they took pictures and all this stuff. And that kind of restored my faith," Darrell said.

Now the stars are gone and the house is back on the market, listed for $250,000.

Mitch is hoping the tribe itself may be the next owner, perhaps turning it into a conference center or museum; something to preserve its remarkable history and capture the glittering new chapter that's about to draw the eyes of the world to Osage County.

Terry Hood sat down for a one-on-one interview with the author of "August: Osage County," Tulsan Tracy Letts. Keep an eye out for that on News On 6.