p north, a man's man lives high on the log.
From knives to hides, here's a peek into Maurice's digs.

MAURICE: " HEY! You can come inside. I'll give you a nickel tour...Well, nothing elaborate, just a walk-through. Come on, in! Don't touch anything!...Be sure and wipe your feet."

 

It's probably the most visited log cabin on TV since Grizzly Adams' - if cabin is the right word for a place with a 1,000-square-foot living room and a dining table that seats 18. Northern Exposure's Maurice Minnifield, the ex-NASA jock (played by Barry Corbin) who splashed down in the one state big enough to hold his bluster, calls it home.

"We wanted to give him a castle that's commensurate with the size of the character," explains Exposure co-creator Joshua Brand, "a monument to himself."

Imagine, if you will, a collision outside fictional Cicely, Alaska, between Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu and a hunting lodge. A zoo's worth of moose, bear, and buffalo gaze with glass eyes at museum-quality paintings. An arsenal of rifles and knives cozies up beside Victorian lampshades and rococo sofas. "Guns and roses," Brand calls the decor. "In a way, it's a Rorschach for Maurice."

The set was inspired by a real log house built about 20 miles outside Seattle by DeWelle F. "Skip" Ellsworth III, who teaches cabin construction through the University of Washington. His 6,500-square-foot home, dripping with hunting trophies, Zulu shields, knives, even a carriage and sleigh, was used in three episodes of Exposure.

Eventually Maurice got his own place, built inside a Redmond, Wash., soundstage under the supervision of production designer Woody Crocker, and stocked with furnishings found at thrift shops and taxidermists'. "This is a man with a great knowledge of period and style, but who overdoes everything," Crocker says. "Practically is not Maurice's long suit."

Leaning back in his character's study and scanning the wildlife-studded walls, Corbin says, "This is Maurice's vision. It's a very odd vision. It'd give me the willies to come in here at night and see all these dead things."

 

HORNS APLENTY: The elk antler chair, upholstered in tanned elk hide with deer antler buttons, was built by a taxidermist artist and has a matching side table. It "fits with Maurice's vision of manhood," says Corbin. "Heavy, substantial, big. You couldn't harm any of this stuff."

POST MARK: The newel post duplicates one at the Depression-era Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Ore. "The Native Americans have given Maurice a name, and eagle is part of it," says assistant art director Lori Melendy. "He had a Native American carve the post for him."

"Is the Eagle new?"
MAURICE: "Oh yes, I put in this banister last year."
 

TROPHY LIFE: "There's a lot of dead things" in Maurice's home, Corbin says. "Weapons that don't work. Rusty swords. In a way, it's symptomatic. Brought up with the John Wayne myth, Maurice has no idea what his role is anymore. He is simply and truly trapped in amber."

LOG ROLE: Cardboard tubes of the sort used in heavy construction double as logs in Maurice's house. The fakery doesn't end there: The numerous rifles were salvaged from broken stocks and fitted with barrels constructed of wooden dowels or pipe.

LANCE A LOT: "They're not your basic pocket knives," set dresser Rachel Thompson says. "Maurice collected many of them in his travels. They're something that'd be easy for him to pick up and pack out. He's not the type of guy to collect salt and paper shakers."

 

MAN ON THE MOON: The study is filled with astronaut photos, including one of Richard Nixon welcoming the Apollo 11 crew in which Maurice's face was pasted over Neil Armstrong's (that's Michael Collins to his immediate right and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin to his far right).

 

THE SHINING: A copy of Sydney Laurence's 1931 work "Northern Lights," which hangs in an Anchorage Museum. "Laurence is the foremost historical painter of the Northwest and Yukon," Crocker says. "It only makes sense that Maurice collects the finest Alaskan art."

TOOTHFUL: Of the walrus, Corbin says, "Maurice probably harpooned it." But set dresser Kimberley Frank thinks a puddle jumper taking Maurice fishing rendered the walrus "instant road kill." "If you were Maurice," she asks, "would you tell somebody it got hit by a float plane?"

POINT BLANK: The framed arrowheads are Maurice's "salute to Native American heritage," Corbin says. In real life, they're plastic replicas of obsidian, agate, and jasper artifacts unearthed along the Columbia River, supplied by a Portland gem shop.

FEAST FORWARD: The 24-pund steel-head mounted above the doors (with Timberline Lodge logos) could feed a table full of guests - even at Maurice's table (the chairs are Vegas casino castoffs). "Just in case he has a crowd," Corbin says, "he wants to have room."

MAURICE: "I ENTRUSTED YOU WITH THE CARE OF MY HOUSE! How do you repay me?
You ransacked the place!

 

 

 


MAURICE MINNIFIELD:
A MAN'S MAN


MAURICE MINNIFIELD:
ON THE SET

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Background clip: Barry Corbin as Maurice Minnifield in "Northern Exposure," episode 3.20 "The Final Frontier."

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