Like me, every gamer who owned a PlayStation in the late ‘90s remembers the first time they stepped inside the Spencer Mansion, the iconic and utterly terrifying home that served as the setting of the original “Resident Evil”. From the first glimpse of its foreboding wood and marble main hall—flashes of lightning throwing strange shadows on the walls—you knew that nothing good was going to happen in this place. It was the perfect venue for a horror game (or a “survival-horror” game, as this genre was dubbed), and one that would go down as one of the most iconic locales in video game history.
I have quite a history with the “Resident Evil” series, having played every installment across dozens of platforms and reviewed many of them during my career as a games writer. When I joined Movoto, some of the earliest things I bonded with my fellow bloggers here over were memories of the original game, like our fearless leader Chris Kolmar’s admission that the zombie dogs “scared the sh*t out of” him and caused him to stop playing. Even with its now-primitive graphics, “Resident Evil” managed to instill a sense of fear in players like few games before—or since.
The Spencer Mansion was an easy choice, then, when we were looking to follow up our recent property evaluation of Hyrule Castle from “The Legend of Zelda.” Not only is the mansion right up there with Zelda’s abode in terms of how memorable it is, but the “Resident Evil” franchise as a whole is one of the most important and influential gaming series ever.
So, with my target set, I grabbed some green herbs (health) and a few typewriter ribbons (for saving my progress), and set out for the Arklay Mountains outside Raccoon City to put a price tag on the mysterious manor. As it turned out, my mission would be almost like solving one of the game’s many puzzles.
What I found: the Spencer Mansion would set you back $1.75 million if it was put on the market—zombies not included. Keep reading to find out how I came to this number.
Prologue: How to Value a Horror House
Before I could determine how much a fearless real estate agent would put the Spencer Mansion on the market for, though, I had to gather some very important intel:
- Where the mansion is located
- How large the mansion is
- The price of comparable properties
The first one proved to be the trickiest by far, as you’ll see in a sec.
Finding Raccoon City
The first two “Resident Evil” games are set in and around a (sadly) fictional metropolis known as Raccoon City. The Spencer Mansion is located in an area called the Arklay Mountains, an equally fictitious setting several miles outside of Raccoon City. Seeing as location is absolutely key to valuing a property—real or otherwise—I had to figure out where the city and mountains would be if they actually existed.
Thankfully, this is territory that’s been covered by a few diehard “Resident Evil” fans before. There are several theories as to the “real” location of Raccoon City floating about the Internet, based on limited information provided in the games. Capcom, the developer and publisher of the series, has stated that Racoon City is a Midwestern U.S. town with a population of around 100,000 residents. Digital sleuths have spent plenty of time trying to track down which state, and the most convincing argument I found was for Missouri, made by a user named Welsh on the Project Umbrella forums.
If Raccoon City is really meant to be situated in Missouri (rather than the non-Midwestern Pennsylvania as the “Resident Evil” movies and novels would suggest) then the real-life city that has the most in common with it is Springfield, MO. It has a similar population (Springfield had 159,498 people that called it home as of 2010), nearby rivers, and the nearby Ozarks which fill in nicely for the fictional Arklays.
The area around Springfield also has natural limestone caverns, the sort used by the evil Umbrella Corporation for building underground facilities in the “Resident Evil” series, like those in and near Raccoon City. That was the real deal-clincher for me.
With a stand-in for Raccoon City figured out, I next had to size up the mansion itself.
How Big is Spencer Mansion?
As one of the most memorable pieces of real estate in all of gaming, Spencer Mansion has been thoroughly documented by fans—some of whom have even recreated it in astonishing detail within other games, such as “The Sims”, “Halo: Reach”, and “Minecraft”.
It’s known to have 28 rooms, including its expansive dining room, a gallery, a room of armor, and a library, all full of traps and puzzles. Oddly enough, the mansion only has one bathroom, and it’s occupied… by a zombie. The place is also filled with typewriters—not because it belonged to an obsessive hoarder, but because they’re the mechanism players use for saving their progress. Still, pretty weird.
The only thing is, even with all this detail, no one has figured out how big the mansion actually is.
That’s where I came in. In order to get the square footage, I needed to know the actual dimensions of the house, which is hard to do even with access to some really great maps. Since they lack scale, I went with a totally low-tech approach: I used the size of a standard 2.5” door—of which there are many in the house—painstakingly measured all the necessary walls, multiplied to get the square footage of the mansion’s component areas, then added it all together.
When all was said and done, I’d determined that the Spencer Mansion’s floor plan covers a total of 10,125 square feet. Note that this doesn’t include the underground passageways, lab, or guard house—just the main structure.
With a location and square footage in my inventory, I only needed one more piece of the puzzle: comparable properties for my price per square foot.
Not All Mansions are Evil
Getting this last bit was easy, to be honest. Since I’d already placed the Spencer Mansion in the Ozarks outside of Springfield, MO, I needed to find some comparable (in size, not infamy) properties in the area so I could get a price per square foot.
I found four mansions in the 10,000 square foot range in the area, ranging from $1.5 to $2.5 million. After calculating their individual price per square feet, I ended up with an average price per square foot of $173. That’s a far cry from the $4,690 per square foot we came up with for Tony Stark’s “Iron Man” mansion in Malibu, CA.
Taking Up Residence in Spencer Mansion
Price per square foot, square footage, and location acquired, I was ready to add it all up—or, rather, multiply. That gave me my final figure of $1,751,625.
Like I said earlier, that doesn’t include anything beyond the main house—so the underground passageways, guard house, or lab. It also doesn’t factor in all the priceless artwork, antiques, or crazy-scary monsters like man-eating plants, zombie dogs, and friggin’ sharks that appear in the game. You’ll have to figure those into your move-in costs if you decide to call this one-of-a-kind property home.