Where Is Miss Robichaux's Academy?

Still from an American Horror Story: Coven trailer
"You're never gonna become great women of our clan, sitting around here at Hogwarts."
Oh burn, witch. Fiona Goode hits the nail on the Minotaur's head with her appraisal of Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. Both are schools for witches. Both are scenes of bloodshed and haunted by spirits. Both Zoe Benson and Harry Potter are fishes out of water, on a train to school. 

Beyond those, the comparison may be lazy, even from a wickedly smart Supreme like Fiona. Where there are no whomping willows, there are only oak trees, as grand as Louisiana could grow them. Where there are no moving paintings, there are only the stationary portraits of the Supremes, whose stares can lay a guilt trip on you forever. In terms of student body size, Ms. Robichaux's Academy has more in keeping with the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters

Ms. Robichaux's Academy may be no castle but—oh  my Papa Legba—it is vast. In the real world, it is 1410 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans: the three-storey, 20,000 sq. ft. Buckner Mansion.

Bienvenue Chez Robichaux

As life would imitate art, Buckner Mansion served, from 1923 to 1983, as a school, Soulé Business College.

FIONA HAS NO SOULÉ. A remnant of Buckner Mansion's academic past

Before that, it was the domicile of cotton supremo Henry S. Buckner, who had it built in 1856 to surpass another antebellum mansion, Stanton Hall in Mississippi. Today you can rent Buckner for at least $1,690 a night—with "ghosts on request."

Inside Buckner house. Photo via Nicco

American Horror Story: Coven apparently seized upon opportunity. But "extreme precaution was taken to not damage the 156-year-old mansion," according to the show's Facebook page. 

In fact, so much precaution was taken that interior scenes were filmed not inside Buckner but in an 8,000 sq. ft. set at the Lower Garden District. Besides, set designer Mark Worthington felt that the Buckner interior was not suited to filming, as the proportions were "a little odd," the rooms "really long and narrow and tall." 

As you may see, the AHS Coven set has a whiter interior than the real Buckner Mansion. Via Old New Orleans

Coven's set really has a second floor. Via EOnline

Unlike sets of seasons past, Coven's boasts a staircase that actually leads to a second floor. The dominant motif is white, to reflect Coven's relatively more upbeat, sanguine feel than Asylum or Murder House. But be mistaken not.

“I guess you could say you can really see blood on white," said set decorator Ellen Brill.

Well, Ms. Robichaux's is truly sanguine in that sense. Here, after all, which-witch-is-witch is the favored parlor game.


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