Ava Gardner’s Homes: Inside the Golden Age Starlet’s Most Notable Addresses

Ava Gardner was known for leading a glamorous life filled with A-list Hollywood parties, explosive romances, and even a healthy dose of flamenco dancing in Madrid—but before all of that, the starlet was a country girl living on a family farm in rural North Carolina.

The summer after graduating high school, in 1939, Gardner traveled to New York City to see her older sister and ended up charting the course of her life in the process. During her visit, the then 17-year-old posed for a portrait session with her photographer brother-in-law; a picture of the young beauty in the window of his photo studio ultimately led to her discovery.

Gardner was set to begin a college secretarial program that coming fall, but by 18 she was living in Hollywood, MGM contract in hand. From there, the actor resided in numerous California dwellings before eventually giving up the US altogether. Below, we trace the legendary screen star’s journey in homes.

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Grabtown, North Carolina, farmhouse

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The clapboard house where Ava Gardner was born

Photo: Will & Deni McIntyre/Getty Images

The youngest of seven siblings, Gardner was born on Christmas Eve 1922. The Gardner family lived in a white two-story farmhouse on their tobacco and cotton farm in the small unincorporated community of Grabtown, North Carolina. According to the nearby Ava Gardner Museum, the house still stands as a private residence.

Brogden, North Carolina

When the Show Boat actress was three years old, a fire ravaged the Gardner family barn and cotton gin, prompting them to relocate to Brogdon, North Carolina. The family made ends meet by managing a teacherage—a boarding house for teachers at the local school—where they also lived until financial strain forced them to close in 1934, as Gardner was entering teenagehood.

The family then ran and resided in a shipyard worker boarding house in Newport News, Virginia, until Gardner’s father died in 1938.

Rock Ridge, North Carolina

After her father’s passing, Gardner moved to another teacherage in Rock Ridge, North Carolina, with her mother. The simple Colonial-style house had two stories clad in white clapboard siding and a front porch spanning the entire length of its façade, according to a photo from the Ava Gardner Museum.

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