Dexter Filming Locations: Dexter's Forgotten Family Home


The location: Dexter's Family Home.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A residential home.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. At 1235 Mangrove Drive, in some rural area near Miami, FL.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. Only once, in the first season's dark finale, Episode 12 , "Born Free":

    Dexter has been drawn into a series of perverse mind games with "The Ice Truck Killer", who has been leaving him personal clues as he litters the landscape with the bodies of his victims.

    In a way, Dexter admires the unknown killer, seeing him both as a master at their dark art and as a kind of depraved playmate.

    As it turns out, the "Ice Truck Killer's" games have been designed to tempt Dexter into researching his own past, to discover the horrible family secrets awaiting him there.

    But in the final episode, Dexter realizes that his sister's fiance, Rudy, is the Ice Truck Killer, and that she is in danger. Rudy has kidnapped Debra, leaving clues for Dexter to follow that eventually lead him back to the home of the mother he never knew.

    As he walks through the front gate, Dexter begins having flashbacks of his happy early childhood, before his trauma, recovered memories of his mother, and of a brother, Brian, he had forgotten even existed.

    That brother, Rudy (born Brian Moser), steps out on the porch to welcome him. Happy to have his blood brother back at last, Rudy assumes that Dexter will gladly join him in slaughtering his foster sister, Debra, as a way of cementing their relationship.

    But Dexter, it turns out, has a bit more human feeling than he would like to admit, and when forced to choose between his long-time sister and his new-found brother, he can't bring himself to harm her.

    A fight breaks out between Dexter and Rudy, just as the cops arrive outside.  Rudy makes a run for it and escapes from the police via a hidden tunnel. (The two meet up again, for the final time, at Rudy's lair.

    Update: Three years later, the same house shows up once again, in the Season 4 finale (Episode 12, "The Getaway").

    Debra, who has been looking into her father's cheating ways, talks to a former girlfriend of Harry's, and she takes Debra to the home of Dexter (and Rudy/Brian's) mother, Laura Moser.

    Debra immediately recognizes it as the same place where the Ice Truck Killer took her when he tried to kill her.

    The woman tells Debra that Laura Moser had two sons. Debra later looks it up and finds out that the two boys were Dexter and the Ice Truck Killer - something she later reveals to Dexter (unaware that he already knows).

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A residential home - but not in Miami.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. You'll find the house way out in Acton, California, a desert community some 75 miles north of Dexter's normal local hunting grounds of Long Beach.

    Acton is located off the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway, about 13 miles southwest of Palmdale and about 30 miles east of the Six Flags Magic Mountain area.

    The address is 31823 Crown Valley Road, in Acton, CA, at the southwest corner of Crown Valley Road & Cory Drive. (They used the actual interior as well, for the inside shots, and they also used the back yard.)

    It's a three bedroom, one bath home, built back in 1891. The tin roof, windmill, and water tower seen in the back are real. It was for sale recently, with a $399,000 asking price.

    For the flashback scenes, the house was heavily draped in foliage, and otherwise dressed to give it a more nostalgic look.

    [ Warning: This is a private home.  Do not knock on their door,
    trespass on their property, or do anything else that might disturb the residents
    . ]

    At the end of the house scene, there is a very short shot of an ambulance racing away from the crime scene, with Debra and Dexter inside. Freeze-frame it, and you can see the "49er Bar & Grill" in the background, which is located at 31908 Crown Valley Road, in Acton, just a hundred yards north of the Dexter house, but on the other (east) side of the street. Ironically, the ambulance speeding "away" from the crime scene is actually heading back south towards the house.

    Update: They re-used the same past footage of the Acton house in the Season 4 finale ("The Getaway"), however, they faked the part of the scene where Debra and the woman walk up to the house and open the gate.

    Obviously, they didn't want to drive all the way out to Acton again.  So they just shot those street scenes right across the street from the Bomb Shelter house (where Trinity buries the boy). To complete the illusion, they made a copy of the rickety old gate out front of the actual Acton place and propped it up on Locust Avenue in Long Beach. During that fake part of the scene, they are on the east side of Locust, with the camera looking west, towards the bomb shelter house (in fact, you can see that house's white picket fence behind them in that scene.) StreetView.

    The photos below come from 2008 real estate listings.

    Here is an aerial photo of the house.  And here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. I had honestly given up any hope of ever finding this house.

    Not only were many of the shots at night (making it hard to identify details), but I could tell from the rural scene that it was probably located out in the middle of nowhere. And sure enough, it turned out to be in the last place I would have ever looked.

    Fortunately, in 2008, I got a tip from an anonymous source that it was shot in Acton, CA.

    That wasn't much to go on, but it gave me a place to start. I embarked on an intensive search of the city, using Live Local aerial photos to look at virtually every house in town, one at a time. (For a small town, Acton has a surprising number of houses, many of which look similar to the house in Dexter when seen from the air.)

    I was searching for a few key landmarks: two twin palm trees in front of the house (separated by a sidewalk), and in the back yard: a windmill (if it was real) and a low water tower.

    It took days of searching, but I finally spotted those twin palms out front of a small home on west side of the main street of Acton, Crown Valley Road. And in the back yard, I saw the water tower and the windmill (which turned out to be real, not just set dressing). Googling the address of that location, I quickly turned up real estate listings that included close-up photos that perfectly matched the home seen in "Dexter". I had found Dexter's long-lost home.

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