Image via Baltimore Soundstage’s Facebook.
Image via Baltimore Soundstage’s Facebook.

Filmmaker John Waters’ boyhood home in Lutherville has just gone on the market.

The six-bedroom house at 313 Morris Ave. has been listed by Frances Hebert of Cummings & Co. Realtors for $936,000. An open house is scheduled for Sunday, July 19, from 1-3 p.m. Masks are mandatory.

“Presenting ‘Oak Grove,’ the first Victorian Leading Lady of Historic Lutherville,” the listing reads. “Built in 1852 by John G. Morris, the founder of The Female Seminary, as his personal residence…Through its 168 years it has been the home to just 4 families, including John Waters. He lived there in his formative years and filmed on the property. You will find a nod to the iconic Pink Flamingo.”

Waters said the current owners alerted him that they were putting the house on the market. He lived there with his parents, two sisters and his late brother, from the late 1950s to 1966, when he got an apartment at 315 E. 25th St., he said.

He would have been about 12 to 14 when his family moved in and in his late teens to early 20s when he moved out.

“She told me about two months ago that they were going to sell it,” Waters said today. “They’ve been a lovely family. They’ve been really nice to us. They’ve been always open. When ‘American Biography’ or one of those shows did me, they allowed us to go out there and film.

“I think the thing that was most lovely, to me,” he continued, “every year at Christmas they had on the front lawn Santa being pulled by pink flamingos, which I thought was very touching.”

The exterior of John Waters’ boyhood home in Lutherville. Image via Zillow.
The exterior of John Waters’ boyhood home in Lutherville. Image via Zillow.

Waters said he once drove by the Morris Avenue house on his way to visit his parents on Christmas Eve, after they had moved to a smaller house in Ruxton, and pulled over to see where he grew up.

“The son, I think, was out there, and he looked over and saw me. I felt like Santa Claus and I said, ‘Wow, do you live in my bedroom?’

“He said, ‘Which one was yours?’ and I told him, and he said, ‘Yep.’

“I said, ‘I thought up a lot of weird stuff in that room,’ and he laughed. I guess he went back in the house and said, ‘Guess who was out front?’”

Noting the pink flamingos in the house’s online listing, Waters said, “They’ve always been very lovely to me and very supportive.”

Waters said he doesn’t think there are any remnants of his time living on the property, except for one addition his parents built.

“My parents put in a fallout shelter. We were the only ones that had a fallout shelter. I always thought [the neighbors] would come over and kill us and take our canned goods. I had a little sign from Mad magazine that I still have in my house now that says, ‘God Bless Our Fallout Shelter.’ That was very ’50s, you know. The Duck-and-Cover years.”

The house itself has been “completely remodeled inside,” he said.

“To me, my thought was, It seems cheap. That price? That’s the oldest house in Lutherville, I believe. It’s a beauty. I drove by there recently and I think maybe they repainted just before they put it on the market. When we had it, it was gray. Inside, it’s completely different. It’s a beautiful house.”

Waters said he still remembers shooting his early films there.

“I filmed the opening of ‘Hag in a Black Leather Jacket,’ ‘Roman Candles.’ In ‘Multiple Maniacs,’ the entire Cavalcade of Perversion was on the front lawn there. I shot ‘Eat Your Makeup,’ the whole Kennedy assassination right out front on Morris Avenue.

“‘Desperate Living,’ Mink [Stole] in the bedroom, in the beginning, that is my mother and father’s bedroom. The whole beginning is the house, when Grizelda the killer maid comes down, that’s all the steps. They look the same in the house. It seems like every one of them had something filmed in there, in some way, until we moved. I have certainly very, very fond memories of it. It’s a beautiful house, and whoever gets it will be lucky.”

Some of the pink flamingos in a garden outside John Waters’ boyhood home. Image via Zillow.
Some of the pink flamingos in a garden outside John Waters’ boyhood home. Image via Zillow.

Waters said his parents were supportive of his filmmaking and his friends who filmed there, the Dreamlanders.

“We used to call that front lawn the Dreamland lot,” he said. “That was our studio. My parents, they never came down and watched. They just let us do it.”

Waters said his family lived on Morris Avenue before people started calling Lutherville “historic.” For those who must know, he said, “my bedroom is when you walk in the front door and you go up the main steps and you bear to the right and you go up the next little steps and it’s the first bedroom on the left.”

Waters said he’s curious to find out what happens with the sale–and whether he’s a selling point.

“I’m just trying to figure out if it’s a curse or a plus to have me involved,” he said. “Either way, it’s kind of funny.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.