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If anyone knows about tracking down the right house, it's the team behind SYFY's SurrealEstate. And we're not just talking the onscreen members of the Roman Agency, led by Tim Rozon's Luke Roman, who spend their days clearing homes of their less savory and oft-spooky residents. Noel Harris, the series' location scout, also knows a thing or two about potentially spooky houses, especially after tracking some down in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
"Any location manager will tell you they always need more time," Harris told SYFY when we inquired about how long it took to track down the soon-to-be-haunted houses for the series. "Just like every crew member doing their particular job, there is a finite amount of time I am allotted to find a location. Then there is the roulette game of finding the person who can make the decision to let us shoot there or not. Sometimes that is the person who answers the door when I knock as opposed to a tenant who tells me the owner is out of town and unreachable for a week or two."
Despite the time constraints, however, Harris was able to track down a number of beautiful, unique homes to embody each of the Roman Agency's listings. Finding the right house for each haunting was paramount, so Harris worked closely alongside production manager Jeff Hanes, poring over reference photos and discussing "the location intricacies of the episode." From the roof where little "Molly" defied gravity to a neighborhood of (identical) plenty, SurrealEstate has already served up a buffet of beautiful architecture, and there's only more to come.
For Harris, the star of the show is, of course, the Donovan House, which Megan Donovan (Tennille Read) has been looking to vacate since Episode 1. In real life, the house's owner, Pam Crossan, has nothing but love for her home. Harris says Crossan became something of a "quasi-crew member" throughout the shoot, even going so far as to invite some of the creators over to her home for a 12-course meal.
"It's ironic that I would allow my home to be used for a horror-based show, when I had previously dismissed the idea when approached about using it in a traditional show," Crossan says, noting that the experience of seeing her house so often on SurrealEstate has been "in a nutshell, 'surreal.'"
In real life, the Donovan House is called the "Hopedale House." As Crossan explains, Hopedale House was built in 1883 by Captain Samuel Blandford, whose family owned the home until World War II.
"As Newfoundland was then a British Colony, it was taken over by the British Forces as their headquarters in St. John's during the War," she says. "The British then left it to the Salvation Army, who converted it into a home for 'unwed Mothers' and later to a home for senior citizens.
"Many lives started and ended here, but before we purchased it, it had been divided into 5 apartments and many of the beautiful architectural features had been removed or covered up," Crossan continues. "We moved in in 1986 and with the help of my incredibly talented father and brother, both carpenters, we returned it to its original character and purpose: a loving family home! I feel safe and comfortable here."
While Megan Donovan and the Roman Agency might not feel the same way about the house, Crossan promises that, "with all this history, it has more spirit than spirits," even if several of her family members swear up and down that they once experienced something creepy in the dining room.
"Twelve of my family members were seated around the dining table. While I was in the kitchen, I heard a commotion in the dining room. Upon returning, I saw my adult nephew on his hands and knees looking for something on the floor, while other family members were making exclamations of confusion and disbelief," Crossan explains. "Apparently, something, described as a long, smoky, opaque, scarf-like object entered the room. It floated around, drifted down the center of the table, then suddenly and intentionally changed direction into the living room where it disappeared. All who witnessed it still talk about it, and it remains unexplained."
Maybe our buddy Luke could help out with that. New episodes of SurrealEstate premiere every Friday at 10 p.m. ET on SYFY.