The Perryopolis property, used to represent serial killer Buffalo Bill’s home in the film starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, listed last October, and Chris Rowan, an art director and prop stylist from New York, bought it for $290,000 in February. As a long-time fan of both the movie and the genre, Rowan immediately saw an opportunity to turn it into an homage to the cult classic.
“When I saw that Buffalo Bill’s house was on the market back in October, I had a few ideas,” Rowan told Inman. “I am a passionate fan, first and foremost, while my filmmaking and production experience really gives me a unique ability to deck the place out and make it into something really special.”
About 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh, the 110-year-old home was built in the Princess Anne Victorian style and sits on 1.76 acres of land along the Youghiogheny River. In the film, it portrays an attractive-yet-unremarkable suburban home that actually hides the dark secrets of Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine), the serial killer being hunted by Foster’s character FBI trainee Clarice Starling.
Much of the decor recognized by fans from the movie, such as the the wood trimmings, vintage wallpaper and some of the furniture, remain untouched. To expand on the Silence of the Lambs theme further, Rowan is currently recreating features that were filmed on sets, such as the well where Bill kept his victims before skinning them and the infamous basement pit. Renovating a vintage train caboose parked behind the house is also in Rowan’s plans.
“I’m utilizing some of some of my talents as a prop stylist to recreate some of the key components of the story of Silence of the Lambs inside the house and in the basement,” said Rowan, who has also expanded his collection of movie memorabilia that’s displayed throughout the house. “What I’m looking to do is recreate some permanent sets in the basement so that fans can have a very immersive and unique experience during their stay here as well as make a wonderful photo op.”
Rowan, who also runs the annual New York City Horror Film Festival, is confident that there is a large enough fan base to be interested rather than creeped out by this type of rental property. To kick off the rentals, he is holding a contest for a chance to win a free two-night stay at the property and be the first to stay at the property through Sunday, Feb. 28. A winner will be chosen in March while regular bookings will be opened in the coming months.
“My goal is to is to preserve the legacy of Silence of the Lambs and its place in film history while also sharing it with with like-minded people who want to come visit,” Rowans said, adding that his social media has been inundated with messages from interested fans since announcing the rental plans.
In what started as a passion project, Rowan hopes that the house will draw together fans of not just Silence of the Lambs but the horror genre in general. As part of his new Buffalo Bill’s House business, he also plans on launching guided tours and opening the house up as a filming and photo shoot location alongside the overnight stays.