The location: Doakes Crashes Mobster's
Family Party at

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A Catholic church.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. In Miami, Florida.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 3 (of Season 1), "Popping Cherry".

    The mob has killed an undercover policeman, Ricky Simmons, and his wife. And Sgt. Doakes is mad.

    So, he shows up at a party being held at a Catholic church celebrating the confirmation of the young daughter of the mobster (Guerrero) who Doakes thinks ordered the murders.

    It's a happy festival, and the young girl, Rose, is being congratulated by the local bishop when Doakes shows up uninvited and starts talking to her.

    He tells her he is investigating the murder of an undercover cop and his wife, and begins to show her a photo. She's confused about why he's asking her about the matter.

    Her father suddenly shows up and tells Doakes to get away from his daughter.  He whispers to Doakes that he is crossing the line by coming to his church, and messing with his family.

    "You just opened a dangerous door," Guerrero tells Doakes.

    "No, you did," replies Doakes. He then raises his voice to make sure everyone hears, and shouts "When you murdered a cop and an innocent lady."

    As the mother hurries the distressed daughter away, Doakes says "If you don't play by the rules, Guerrero, why should I?".

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A women's club.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This is not really a church (Catholic or otherwise).

    This is actually the Ebell of Los Angeles, a social club for women which dates back to the late 1800's.

    This clubhouse was built in 1927, and the church-like arches we see in this scene from Dexter are part of a tile-roofed colonnade walkway that leads from the dining room to a grassy central plaza with a fountain.

    You'll find the Ebell clubhouse at 4400 Wilshire Boulevard (at Lucerne Blvd), which is just south of the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.  The arched colonnade is on the building's east side.

    The producers added the various religious statues and paintings to make it appear to be a Catholic church.

    (As a side note, Dexter later filmed a scene from the 3rd season at the Ebell's sister clubhouse in Long Beach.)

    Here is a Google StreetView panorama of the building and its arches:

    Here is an aerial photo of the clubhouse. And here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. Of all the Dexter locations I've found, this one took me the longest time to track down. Almost 10 years, to be exact.

    Back in 2006, I looked for this "church" everywhere, but I couldn't find it.  The first problem was that I was looking for an actual Catholic church - and as you've read above, this isn't one.

    The other major problem was that the show was still filming some of its scenes in Miami back then, so I couldn't be sure if this "church" was in L.A. or in Miami.  I remember even emailing a screencap to a priest in Florida to see if he recognized it.  But no luck.  It's hard enough to find locations here in L.A., so after checking out a zillion Catholic churches in both cities, I eventually gave up.

    Cut to a weekend in the summer of 2015:  My computer was in the repair shop, and I was bored enough to watch a bad 1986 TV movie, called "TimeStalkers", via Netflix.  And what do I see in the movie?  What looks like the very same Mission-style church walkway that I remembered from Dexter

    I check that episode of Dexter and compare the two, and sure enough, it's definitely the same place.  Since the movie was made in L.A., that finally answers my question of whether the location was here or in Miami, and it reignites my optimism that I might be able to find it after all.

    While I'm looking at the two scenes, I notice something I hadn't seen before: plain glass doors & windows, at the end of the church walkway.  That's unusual for a Catholic church; they usually have solid wood doors and stained glass windows.  So it occurs to me that maybe this isn't really a church, after all.  Maybe it's some other kind of building that just looks like a church.

    So, I start considering all the locations I've encountered that might have Mission-style archways like that (and I've seen a lot more locations now than I had back then), and one idea pops into my head: the Ebell on Wilshire.  I know it looks somewhat Mission-like, and it's a major filming spot.  I check images of the Ebell, and sure enough, they match perfectly.

    So, almost 10 years after I initially started looking for it, I finally found it.  (Whew!)

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