After a breakup, the actor Billy Morrissette (Vegas Vacation, Pump Up the Volume) left Los Angeles and bought a loft in Manhattan's SoHo. “It was a crazy mistake,” he said. “SoHo is a mall, and I hated it.” He put the apartment the market in 2008 and a year later purchased a derelict brownstone in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, which he called “a beautiful, insane wreck.”
After gut-renovating the house (but keeping its original details) and completely redoing its facade, Morrissette is now listing the 5,600-square-foot house for $5.6 million.
Along with seven bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, a patio, garden, deck, and sub-basement, buyers will find that the house, which dates to 1860, has become something of a celebrity. It started, Morrissette said, when he acted in Girls.
“I knew the producers and they needed a house for an episode,” he explained. The episode in question is Season 2, Episode 5, when Lena Dunham’s character meets a wealthy older man (Patrick Wilson), and spends most of the show lounging around his house in various states of undress. “No offense to Patrick Wilson,” Morrissette said, “but the house was really the star.” (Ed. note: Bloomberg Pursuits’ editorial staff respectfully disagrees.)
It was the first time Morrissette had rented his house to the film industry—“I would never trust them,” he said—but was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was “a great experience.” Soon, Morrissette was fielding calls from location scouts, and the brownstone has since appeared in a fake commercial on Saturday Night Live, the TV shows Difficult People and Elementary, and in a variety of photo shoots that include spreads in Food and Wine and Glamour magazines.
“People ask me what I do now,” Morrissette said. “And I say I’m a landlord/house pimp.”
Renting out the house for print work, he said, can pay “a few thousand a day,” while it might cost a film crew up to $30,000 a week. “Expenditures for the house grew and grew, and all of that income really helped,” Morrissette said.
The house, which is a half-block from Fort Greene Park, is laid-out as a single-family residence, with a large kitchen/dining/living room on the parlor floor and bedrooms on the upper floors, which Morrissette has filled with his friends.
“All of the bedrooms and sitting rooms are amazingly proportioned for New York,” he said. “They’re just ridiculously large.”
After completing its restoration, Morrissette, like a modern-day Mary Poppins, has decided that his time at the brownstone has come to an end. “I don’t have the money to buy another one and I really want to [renovate a house] again,” he said. “I just keep seeing so many in the neighborhood that I love.”
The house is listed by Amy Wendling at Douglas Elliman.