Inventing the Abbotts  movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Inventing the Abbotts filmed?


City Locations

Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, California

Location Types

Architectural, American, House, Mansions, Retro, Automotive, Banks, Clubs/ Bar, Restaurant, Retail, Studios, Theaters

Location Styles

Americana, Classic Car, Classic Truck, Dated, Retro, Mid-Century Modern, Pick-Up, Rustic

About Inventing the Abbotts

Inventing the Abbotts is a coming-of-age movie set in the 1950s in America. It is based on a short story by Sue Miller and an adapted screenplay by Ken Hixon. The movie has a stellar star cast, and the actors have done a fantastic job ensuring all the characters are portrayed to perfection.

This film concentrates on the story of two brothers from the economically challenged section of society who constantly flirt with three rich girls in their town, The Abbotts. The Holt brothers also blame Mr. Abbott for stealing their good fortune because he made a bet with their father, which caused Mr. Holt's death.

The story starts with a monologue by Doug Holt (Joaquim Phoenix), who gives a run-down of his and his brother, JC's (Billy Crudup) life while describing the class divide, their history, and life in their small town of Haley, Illinois.

After Mr. Lloyd Abbott (Will Patton) becomes extremely wealthy after acquiring Charlie Holt's (Doug and JC's father) patent, he throws lavish parties for each of his three daughters at their important milestones – birthdays, graduation, and others. JC Holt seeks calculated revenge on Lloyd Abbott by trying to seduce his three daughters. He first sets his eyes on Eleanor Abbott (Jennifer Connelly). Because of their liaison, her father sends her off to a mental hospital and will never return to Haley, Illinois, ever again. Simultaneously, the younger brother, Doug, has genuine feelings for the youngest, Pamela Abbott (Liv Tyler).

When JC returns on a break from university, he seduces the eldest, Alice Abbott (Joanna Going), who is in the process of divorcing her abusive husband and fighting for custody of her daughter. When Lloyd realizes what's happening, he takes extreme measures to keep JC away from his daughters. This does not stop JC, who also seduces the youngest, Pamela, from causing a significant rift between Pamela and Doug.

JC and Doug finally realize the truth about the patent their father sold when they come home to attend their mother's funeral. Eventually, Doug manages to sort everything out with Lloyd and starts his true love story with Pamela.

Inventing the Abbotts Locations

Fans wanting to visit Inventing the Abbotts locations should head straight to Petaluma in California. This small town was the epicenter for all things Inventing the Abbotts and was shown to audiences as the fictional town of Haily, Illinois, set in 1957. The main house, the theater, Greyhound bus station, the store where Pamela works, the school and college, and more are all located in California.

Most notable throughout the film is American Alley in Petaluma, which was a brilliant way for the director to show the class divide between the Abbotts in the 'rich' side of town and the Holts in the 'poor' section. In nearly every scene in the movie, the Holt boys walk through this alley to get to the other side.

The majority of Inventing the Abbotts takes place in Downtown Petaluma, Western Avenue, and the Center Park localities in Petaluma. The traffic signals, drugstore windows, storefronts, and even store displays were perfect for the period film.

The interiors of the Holt house were filmed at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California. However, the sets have long since been broken down.

The Haley Theater used in the filming was the actual location of the Mystic Theater at 23 Petaluma Blvd in Petaluma, California. The Lake Hotel was McNear's Restaurant, also at Petaluma Blvd in Petaluma, California.

Fun fact:

The University of Pennsylvania scenes were shot at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Doug laments about his innocence scene in Inventing the Abbotts

American Alley, Petaluma, CA

One of the best scenes in Inventing the Abbotts occurs right at the film's beginning.

Doug (Joaquin Phoenix) and John Charles 'JC' Holt are brothers raised by their single mother in Haley, a small town in Illinois. Their father lost their life over a bet made to Lloyd Abbott (Will Patton). Because of this incident, the brothers blamed Lloyd Abbott for their father's demise.

Doug narrates their life, "The end of my innocence and childhood began in 1957. It is remarkable to me now just how little I knew then about the people around me. It took me years to figure out exactly the truth, especially given my brother's knack at inventing facts." He continues his monologue, saying, "My mother once told me that if the Abbotts didn't exist, my brother would've had to invent them."

This dialogue and the first glimpse of the brother's Holt is centered around their lives in Illinois. The Inventing the Abbotts filming location for this pivotal scene is American Alley in Petaluma, California. American Alley is also critical in showing the divide between the rich and the poor. The best way to get to American Alley is to catch bus number 101 and hop off at Washington St and Grey St. The Alley is a four-minute walk from the stop.

Doug draws sideburns on his face scene in Inventing the Abbotts

Paramount Studios Bronson Gate, 5555 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Doug and JC are invited to a party. While JC is ready, Doug is busy drawing 'Elvis Presley' style sideburns in ink. JC spots him and can't believe what his brother has done. JC goes to his mother, yelling, "Mom! Mom! He has to wash that off! You cannot let him go to the party until he's washing it off!" Doug politely tells his mother, Helen Holt (Kathy Baker), "Mom, it'll look worse if I wash it. It's Ink! It'll turn gray. It'll look like dirt." JC walks up to him and says, "You look like a clown! Mom, he looks like a clown! And he doesn't even know it!"

The brothers then talk about Doug not wanting to go to the party but changing his mind at the last minute.

This filming location of Inventing the Abbotts in their house is a studio set up at Paramount Studios. Paramount Studios is a famous filming location for several movies, including Forrest Gump, Suicide Squad, and Austin Powers, and TV series like Frasier, American Horror Story, Star Trek, Monk, Rizzoli & Isles, and more. To get to Paramount Studios at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, catch bus number 10 to the Melrose/ Windsor stop, and walk for a few minutes to reach.

Doug tries to peek scene in Inventing the Abbotts

Santa Rosa High School, 1235 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA

Doug making a fool of himself is one of the few funny scenes in Inventing the Abbotts. Doug and Eleanor Abbott (Jennifer Connelly) are in the school library when they notice each other. Doug purposely drops his pencil below the long table. He gets off his chair and goes below the table under the pretense of finding it. When there, he turns to look at Eleanor's legs. She realizes what he's up to and raises her leg while scratching her thigh, so her skirt rides a little higher. She lets Doug sneak a peek at her white knickers while she writes on an A4-sized paper, 'Hi Doug!'

She suddenly shows the paper to Doug (who's still below the table). Doug gets startled, bangs his head on the table, and immediately returns to his library chair. As he stands straight, the pencil nib is stuck to his chin, and he rubs his head, trying to ease the pain from when he banged the table. Later, Doug is walking home when Pamela Abbott (Liv Tyler), Eleanor's sister, drives up to him, asking, "How's the chin?"

This scene is filmed in the Santa Rosa High School library in California. Getting to the school is quickest via Hwy 12 E and Creekmont Court.

Eleanor congratulates JC scene in Inventing the Abbotts

Maude Rare Finds For Child, 10 Western Ave, Petaluma, CA 10 Western Ave, Petaluma, CA 94952, United States

Eleanor comes to visit JC while he's mopping the floor. She stops and smiles at him with eyes full of tenderness. She walks toward him and leans against a pillar, saying, "Congratulations!" JC stops, clears his throat, and asks, "For what?" She gives him a crooked smile and replies, "I heard you got accepted to Penn." He responds, "Yeah, yup. Yup, thanks." Eleanor asks, "How'd you swing an Ivy League school like that?" while circling him as he mops.

JC, oblivious to her movements, replies, "Well, my grandfather went there, and I had the grades." She ignores his statement, touches a can behind her on the shelf, and smirks, saying, "It really stinks in here." When JC thinks he might've dropped something, Eleanor replies, "Yeah. Me." He looks up at her, "I just thought maybe you and Steve…" and she interrupts him, retorting, "Yea, that's what you 'thought.'"

For this scene, the Inventing the Abbotts production team chose the interior of a storefront at 10 Western Avenue in Petaluma. The store is now called Maude Rare Finds For Child and is wholly redone as a children's store. Fans can visit the store by catching bus number 48, hopping off at Washington & Petaluma Blvd, and walking for 2 – 3 minutes.

JC comes home for the summer scene in Inventing the Abbotts

17 Petaluma Boulevard, Petaluma, California

JC comes home for the summer and immediately starts dating Eleanor again. They were involved before he went to the University of Pennsylvania, and even though Doug tries to catch Eleanor's eye, she waits for JC. Doug goes to the bus stop to get JC and bring him home. But when JC gets off the bus and is waiting to collect his bag, Eleanor comes in a car with her friends.

They honk and create a dramatic scene at the bus stop. Eleanor's friends say, "Hi, JC!" He realizes Eleanor is there to get him, leaves his bag, and hops into the car as they drive off. When they leave the bus stop, JC turns to his brother Doug and says, "Hey! Get my case, will you?!" Doug is annoyed about the whole scene with JC and is thinking, "When he came home that summer, he picked right up where he left off with Eleanor, and she was more than eager to pick right off where she had left off with him."

Considering there aren't many Inventing the Abbotts action scenes, this one involved a bit of drama and flair. The filming location of the Greyhound bus stop is 17 Petaluma Boulevard, outside the Kabuki Sushi restaurant. Hop onto bus 48, get off at Washington and Petaluma Blvd and walk for five minutes to reach.

Doug confesses his love scene in Inventing the Abbotts

15 Western Avenue, Petaluma, CA

Doug walks up to the store where Pamela is on a ladder, adjusting the dress on a mannequin. She is holding the skirt and pinning something onto it at the window. Pamela notices him standing there and just stares at him. Since the window is slightly frosted, he writes on it with his finger, "I love you." She reads it, gets off the ladder, and walks to meet him.

She comes close to him and says, "How can you ever forgive me?" Doug responds, "You always loved me no matter what I did, right?" When Pamela confirms she does love him despite everything, Doug tells her, "Maybe that's how I love you. No matter what. It's the best kinda love, you know?" She looks confused and asks Doug, "But how can we just start all over again?" To prove his point, he hugs her, gives her a kiss, and says, "See? There. We're doin it."

This Inventing the Abbotts film scene is shot at 15 Western Avenue in Petaluma. Getting here is possible by either catching bus number 48, hopping off at Washington and Petaluma Blvd and walking for a few minutes, or catching bus number 101, hopping off at Petaluma Blvd S and G St, and walking for a few minutes.


Inventing the Abbotts was a one-time watch movie, with too many twists and turns for a coming-of-age genre. Considering the two brothers and three sisters combo, the story and plot were doomed for disaster from the get-go, with heartbreaks and issues. The rich girl meets poor boy trope was not new to audiences, who find the film a bit of a stretch.

It was only because of the casting that the film managed to get a few accolades. The art direction, acting, and film shoot locations covered up what the storyline could not. Unfortunately, Inventing the Abbotts did not do very well at the Box Office either. However, it managed to get all the actors recognized, leading to future lucrative roles.

The Inventing the Abbotts locations in Petaluma, California, as Haley, Illinois was a masterstroke decision by producers since it saved costs and helped make the small-town life believable.