Last Updated on October 14, 2022 by Jeremy
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We love checking out movie set locations in Pittsburgh, and one of the most famous films shot here is none other than the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs.
You may know that some of the movie's most iconic scenes were shot at a set built inside Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland (where they typically recreate the set for a screening most Halloweens). But did you know that the house used as Buffalo Bill's residence is located about an hour south of the city just outside of Perryopolis?
Up until 2021, this house was maintained as a private residence, but when it went up for sale a horror movie fan (and worker in the film industry at large) bought it up to transform it into a private rental and museum for tours.
Naturally, as a fan of the movie myself, I had to visit this one as quickly as possible once it opened for the public and had my chance during a media tour via our friends at Laurel Highlands tourism.
You'll want to check this one out as fast as possible!
Buffalo Bill's House is an Homage to The Silence of the Lambs
Sometimes when movies use a house as a filming location, they take several creative liberties to get a scene. Perhaps only the exterior is used with another house utilized for indoor shots. Or maybe just one room is used for a very specific purpose. Movie magic is indeed quite real.
At the Buffalo Bill house, most of the scenes were filmed on the property outright with little alteration which makes for a rather nice experience on the tour as you get a step-by-step explanation of how elements of the house were featured in the movie.
As there are many surprises in store for visitors regarding these points, we're not going to ruin the fun on that end. But instead, it is worth discussing how this house leans into the movie with many amazing movie memorabilia, artifacts left over from the filming, on-brand decor (like a well-placed Chianti bottle or fava bean wall art), and an untold amount of Buffalo Bill fan art that has been sent to the owner since purchasing the house. You won't go a few feet without seeing something new that is about the movie or Buffalo Bill, and it is exceptionally well done all around.
But perhaps my favorite part of the Buffalo Bill house was the last spot I visited on the tour- a re-creation of the well in the basement of the property designed by the legendary Tom Savini and his students.
As you may have guessed, the well scene in The Silence of the Lambs was shot on a soundstage as digging a deep well in the basement of a residence was not only impractical but structurally risky. That being said, Savini and his students created a replica of the well in an old coal storage room in the house's existing basement. But instead of being deep like in the movie, this one is just about four feet to allow guests to get in for photo ops with Precious, a bucket of lotions on a working pulley, and, yes, a hose prop, too.
It rubs the lotion…
Beyond touring the house for its movie-related connections, the second and third floors have been transformed into a beautiful living space for those who rent the house for overnight stays, with character-themed rooms, a game and TV viewing space in the attic, and an expansive grounds with several wonderful amenities. Even without the movie connection, as far as rentals are concerned this one has a lot (but alas, our overnight stay will have to be on a future visit)!
Visit for Tours, Stay Overnight, or Check Out Special Events
Now, before you get into your car and make the drive down to Perryopolis, you should know that there are three ways to visit this one and each requires advanced planning and reservations.
First, Buffalo Bill's house is open for tours on a limited basis only. As the attraction element of this house is still somewhat new as of my 2022 visit, tours were conducted seasonally (roughly April to October), one weekend per month, and via advanced registration only- so don't drive down hoping to get a tour on the spot. We expect this one to increase its tour frequency as word gets out, but just note that visit dates are inherently limited overall and require advanced booking.
Second, one of the reasons tours are limited is that Buffalo Bill's is primarily operated as a private rental with direct and Airbnb bookings. Yes, you can reserve the entire house for an overnight stay and get to enjoy the rather stunning property all on your own! So while you only have a few days a year to visit for a tour, the rest of the year you can visit through an overnight reservation.
Third, if you cannot make it for the scheduled tours, look out for the one-off events conducted at the house. When I visited in October 2022, they had a rather awesome-looking paranormal investigation with an optional overnight stay package conducted the night before Halloween (running to midnight on Halloween). We're told more unique events like these will be scheduled throughout the year as well for those looking for something just a bit different.
Overall, if you are a fan of The Silence of the Lambs, visiting Buffalo Bill's house is most certainly a pilgrimage site worth driving to Perryopolis for. As far as house tours are concerned, this one knocked it out of the park and we hope to visit many more times over the years!
Now it is time to watch the movie again with a nice bottle of Chianti!
Buffalo Bill's House is located at 8 Circle St in Perryopolis, PA. I was a guest for a media tour but as always all opinions are my own.