Writer-director David Swift and the Disney production crew made an extensive tour throughout the state of California looking for homes which would best portray the architecture prevalent in the eastern United States during the early 1900′s, the era in which the Eleanor H. Porter story is told.
After weeks of searching they finally chose the fabled, now-deserted, Stag’s Leap, an ancient house in northern California’s Napa valley, and the still-occupied home belonging to Mrs. Juilliard McDonald, located about 40 miles west of Stag’s Leap, in Santa Rosa, Calif.
In the story of Pollyanna, Adolphe Menjou enacts the role of Mr. Pendergast, “the meanest man in town,” an irascible recluse who lives in a huge, foreboding, ivy-covered abode on the edge of town. Stag’s Leap was selected for the Menjou house.
Situated eight miles from St. Helena, Calif., Stag’s Leap sits at the foot of a 600-foot cliff, with the sheer wall running directly up from the house. The promontory got its name, so an old legend goes, when a band of Indians, hunting for food, flushed a great white stag. They pursued the animal until it reached the cliff from where, rather than be killed by the Indians, the noble animal leaped to its death.
The Santa Rosa home of Mrs. Juilliard McDonald is used, in the Disney production, as the film residence belonging to Jane Wyman. The McDonald place, with spacious lawns and gardens, is a two-story house occupying an entire square block in the center of town. Built in 1877 it is a replica of an old Natchez, Mississippi home which belonged to Mrs. McDonald’s in-laws prior to the Civil War.
The home is filled with valuable antiques, almost all of which will be given to charities and museums upon Mrs. McDonald’s death in accord with her own wishes. One of her most valued possessions is a harpsichord which stands in the lower hallway. There are only six like it in the world and its value is almost impossible to determine.
Pollyanna, stars Jane Wyman, Richard Egan, Karl Malden, Nancy Olson, Adolphe Menjou, Donald Crisp, Agnes Moorehead, and Kevin Corcoran, and introduces 14-year-old Hayley Mills in the title role.
From the Pollyanna original press materials.