Building A on Emory University’s Briarcliff property, which is an abandoned mental health hospital that served as the filming location for Hawkin’s Lab in the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things,” will be torn down as part of Emory’s plans to renovate Briarcliff into a gated senior living community. 

The Atlanta-based senior living company Galerie Living recently entered into a 99-year lease agreement with Emory to develop and operate the senior living community, Corso Druid Hills. This will be Galerie Living’s second community under its Corso brand. Galerie Living opened its first Corso location in Atlanta last year.

Building A, which was used for Hawkin’s Lab in “Stranger Things,” stands on the Briarcliff campus. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Due to its distance from the main campus and various site considerations, Emory decided to enter a long-term ground lease with a senior living community developer and operator,” Associate Vice President for Planning and Engagement David Payne said. 

At least 32 acres of the 42 acre Briarcliff property will be leased, according to Galerie Living Director of Marketing Stephen Corder. Payne noted that Emory will maintain the rest of the acreage and land where the Library Service Center is located for future use.

Once renovated, Briarcliff will feature independent living options like cottages, as well as one to two bedroom apartments and memory-care residences, Corder said. A total of 500 units will be built to house senior citizens. 

Galerie Living will also refurbish the Candler Mansion as part of their agreement, although it will not be used to house senior citizens. Coca-Cola mogul Asa Candler’s son Asa Candler Jr. originally lived in the mansion until the land was sold to Emory and turned into the Briarcliff campus in 1998. 

The Candler Mansion was used as a filming site for TV shows like “Vampire Diaries” and “Doom Patrol.” Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The mansion, which was showcased in “Stranger Things” and “Vampire Diaries,” features 22 rooms, seven bedrooms, two solariums and a ballroom with 14-foot ceilings and gold-leafed walls. 

The mansion’s construction in 1922 makes it ideal for period pieces, Denise Chandler, the head of film production management, said. She added that the variety of spaces in the building allow it to be converted into “a bank lobby, a police bullpen, a hospital or an office.”

Briarcliff is also visually striking, and many production designers appreciate the brutalist architecture,” Chandler said. 

When it comes to filming on Briarcliff, however, production companies are expected to fulfill a few requirements.

Productions are generally not allowed to film during the academic year, according to Chandler. She added that the majority of filming takes place in inactive buildings to avoid disturbing staff. 

“If a scene will affect staff, film management and the production work with the unit to ensure that the impact is minimal,” Chandler said. 

An artist’s rendering of Emory’s plans to renovate the Briarcliff campus into a senior living community. Photo courtesy of Emory University

Emory receives compensation for the films, Candler noted. 

 “A portion of the revenues go to the hosting school or unit, a portion help fund film management and a portion fund University special projects,” Chandler said. 

There are no definitive plans to stop filming on the property so far, according to Corder.

“The mansion now, at least part of the mystique and appeal is that some of it is still very grand and exquisite, but lots of it is in disrepair,” Corder said. “Once we renovate and refurbish it, it’ll become a destination location where we envision weddings, receptions, community events, corporate events.”

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Assistant Multimedia Editor & Atlanta Campus Desk | Lauren Baydaline (she/her 23C) is from Los Angeles, California, majoring in biology and anthropology and human biology on the pre-med track. Outside of the Wheel, she is working in Dr. Escobar's lab and as a classroom technical assistant. Baydaline is also an avid volunteer for the Glendale YMCA. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, selling clothes on Depop, and working out.