Today, we have a very special guest post brought to you by my good friend/Hocus Pocus aficionado Katie, who recently took a trip to Salem, Massachusetts to stalk the locations featured in the bewitching (pun intended!) 1993 film. When she kindly proposed writing a column about her adventure during my Haunted Hollywood postings, I immediately took her up on the offer and I could not be more excited about the result! So take it away, Katie!
Growing up, Hocus Pocus was one of my absolute favorite Halloween movies, and definitely still is! I had always wanted to visit Salem, Massachusetts after watching the beloved Disney film, and as I grew up and heard more and more of the history and legends of the little town, my interest in it only grew. While planning a trip to New England this summer, I was completely shocked when I discovered that some of the production had actually been filmed in Salem, and I knew I had to check it out. So, after packing my witchiest outfit, I dragged my parents along for a quick detour to Salem, Massachusetts, and put all of the stalking skills I learned from Lindsay Blake to work! [Editor’s note – LOVE it!]
1. Ropes Mansion (318 Essex Street)- The beginning of our Hocus Pocus filming location journey began with Ropes Mansion, located a few doors down from the famous Witch House of Judge Jonathan Corwin. The Ropes Mansion is used in the film as the obnoxiously beautiful home of Max’s love interest, Allison, and where the legendary famous words from Dani, “Max likes your yabbos”, were first muttered. The mansion was recently refurbished and reopened to the public, along with the well-loved gardens frequently visited by Salem residents which are located behind the house. Unfortunately, there were no Rococo-inspired Halloween costume balls or candy filled cauldrons inside of the mansion, but if you’d like to step in and see for yourself, the mansion is open to the public for self-guided tours and a glimpse into Salem history.
Built in 1727, the Ropes Mansion housed four generations of the Ropes family before becoming a part of the Peabody Essex museum. One of the original owners of the house, Nathaniel Ropes, died as a patriot mob attacked the mansion in 1774, and Abigail Ropes died in 1839 due to her dress catching on fire. Both are said to haunt the property.
2. Old Town Hall (32 Derby Square)- The Halloween party where the Sanderson Sisters sang the iconic musical number, “I Put a Spell on You”, took place in the Old Town Hall in downtown Salem. Though the interior shots of the party were filmed elsewhere, the exterior of the building is extremely recognizable from the film. Located in the historical district in Salem, the building is now home to the Salem Museum, where tourists are able to learn about the town’s extensive past. The interactive play, Cry Innocent, is also housed by the historical hall, where the story of Bridget Bishop’s trial is depicted and the audience acts as the Puritan jury, deciding whether she is guilty or innocent.
The doors of the backside of the town hall can briefly be seen as Max and Dani’s parents leave the party after dancing the night away under the Sanderson sisters’ spell.
3. Max and Dani’s House (4 Ocean Drive)- A bit of a hike from the central locations of Hocus Pocus is the house used as the home of the Dennisons, which looks almost exact to the film. This home is so distinct that it has practically become a tourist attraction of its own! Built in the 1870s, this charming little house sits on the oceanfront in a residential area of Salem, and has a stunning view of the sea, which you don’t see in the film.
Trick-or-treaters are shown many times lingering in front of the house before Max and Dani leave to begin a Halloween adventure of their own.
I’m pretty sure every kid who grew up watching this movie was immediately jealous of the crow’s nest in Max’s bedroom, which can clearly be seen from outside the house, and definitely made this place the house goals of the 90s youth. It was the perfect place to sulk in teen angst, which Max took advantage of after a rough day of his Jimi Hendrix pickup line being rejected and having his shoes stolen.
4. Phillips Elementary School (86 Essex Street)- “Tis a prison, for children!” Winifred Sanderson says, as she stands in front of Phillips Elementary School, which depicted Jacob Bailey High School in the film. During the sisters’ hunt for children, they are lured to the school by Max, Dani, and Allison, only to be trapped in the school’s ceramics kiln where they meet their presumed demise. The school also appears at the beginning of the film, where the story of the Sanderson Sisters was told in Allison and Max’s classroom. Apparently, the school shut down a year before Hocus Pocus was filmed, making it the perfect place for a Salem high school. The building now serves as a condominium complex overlooking the Salem Common.
“This place reeks of children!”
Smoke from the aftermath of the Sanderson Sisters’ fate of being locked in the school’s kiln can be seen billowing out of the chimney at the front of the school.
6. Salem Common (Washington Square)- Located just across from Phillips Elementary, which was used as the high school of Max and Allison, and the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem Common is a prominent area in the town. The Common was initiated in 1667, and was a partial swamp where livestock roamed freely among the 8-acre park. From around 1685, the Common was used as an area for the residents of Salem to practice shooting and training for military purposes. In 1714, the town decided that the Salem Common would be “forever kept as a training field for the use of Salem.” The Common now acts as an attractive park, and the spot in the movie where Allison hands Max a note, which he believes to be her phone number, but soon realizes after she’s left that it’s actually his own number handed back to him. Ouch.
7. Pioneer Village (98 West Avenue)- The very first location we see at the beginning of the film takes place in Salem’s Pioneer Village, which was used as the home of Thackery Binx (before his cat days). This location is shown for a brief period of time before Thackery heads to the Sanderson Sisters’ cottage, which unfortunately was filmed on a sound stage. The mock village of life in 1630 was built in 1930, and was the first ‘living’ history museum in America. The village has very strange hours and tours, so be sure to check out the website before you plan your visit. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan ahead and the museum was closed, but thanks to some wandering around the perimeter and making use of our investigative skills, we were able to sneak a peek in and could clearly see Thackery Binx’s home! [Editor’s note – again, LOVE it! I’ve taught you well, Katie!]
Well, that’s that, all of the Hocus Pocus filming locations in Salem! I want to give a huge thank you to Lindsay for giving me the opportunity to write a guest post, I had so much fun doing this and I hope you had fun following along with me! Happy Halloween stalking, everyone!
[Editor’s Note – big THANK YOU to you, Katie, for this fabulous post! I regularly receive emails from Hocus Pocus fans asking for information on locations from the movie, so I could not be more thrilled with this spellbinding compilation!]