After posting photos from the Nicholas Sparks tearjerker novel-turned-movie Nights in Rodanthe, requests came pouring in for The Notebook. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of featuring this movie before, because it has three great old houses to look at: Allie’s, Noah’s, and the old plantation house that served as the nursing home. Let’s take a look!
Allie’s Family’s Summer Home:
Boone Hall Plantation served as Allie’s family’s summer home. The antebellum mansion is located in South Carolina near Charleston and has the distinction of being one of America’s oldest working plantations, growing and producing crops for over 320 years. The house itself dates to the early 20th century.
We don’t see them in the movie, but there are 9 original slave cabins still standing on the property, dating back to the 1700s (photo via the DVD special features):
The plantation is open to tourists who can see what life was like for its residents in the 1800s. According to their website:
In 1743, the son of Major John Boone planted live oak trees, arranging them in two evenly spaced rows. It would take two centuries for the massive, moss-draped branches to meet overhead.
Rumor has it that a photo was taken of the nearly mile-long “Avenue of Oaks,” as it is known, by film location scouts back in the 1930s and used as inspiration for Twelve Oaks in Gone With the Wind. (You can see how it looked in the movie here.)
Photos of the house taken during production (via DVD special features):
*9/12 UPDATE: People magazine is reporting that Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds just got married here.
Interior photographs of the house aren’t allowed, but based on this postcard I found, the real rooms look nothing like the interiors in the movie:
I’m assuming they filmed the interior shots elsewhere.
*UPDATE: Readers have informed me that the interiors were shot at Calhoun Manor in Charleston.
In case you missed this movie–Noah (Ryan Gosling) is a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and Allie (Rachael McAdams) has parents who, according to one of the characters, are “richer than God.” The parents aren’t thrilled with the new relationship and determine to keep them apart. (We all know how well that works!)
Allie’s mother, played to icy perfection by Joan Allen, informs her daughter that they are leaving early to return to their home in the city. She will not see Noah again.
The Nursing Home (Black River Plantation):
Noah and Allie are living here in the present-day, at a nursing home. It was filmed at Black River Plantation in Georgetown County, South Carolina. James Garner and Gena Rowlands play Noah and Allie “all grown up.”
Boy, did I bawl when Allie’s children and grandchildren show up and she doesn’t recognize them. Anyone who has had a loved one with Alzheimer’s knows how painful that can be. I went through half a box of tissues on this movie. (Darn you, Nicholas Sparks!)
According to the DVD special features, the grand old home was a Sears kit house, purchased for $5,140 (read more about kit houses here). This is only one of the four Magnolia floor plans ever built, and the only one built in the South:
The homeowner got the plans turned around, however, and inadvertently built the house backwards.
9/10 UPDATE: Readers have informed me that even though it was long believed to have been a Sears Kit house, research showed it wasn’t after all. The dimensions are a bit larger and the floor plan is different. Special thanks to Kelly of Old House Dreams for tracking down the facts for me here (page 9 of the PDF).
Here’s the solarium that Noah meets Allie in. He spends the day reading to her the story of Noah and Allie from “the notebook” and hoping it’ll trigger some memories for her:
A shot of the living spaces from the DVD special features:
If I ever need a nursing home, sign me up for this one, please. I think I could be happy in one like this!
Noah’s White House with the Blue Shutters:
Noah’s house isn’t white and doesn’t have any blue shutters when we first see it. He takes Allie inside, telling her he plans to buy it and fix it up someday.
Years later, after Noah and Allie have long been separated and Noah has been to war and back, his dad helps him buy the old house and fix it up (his dad, played by Sam Shepard, dies soon after they buy it, though, which seems kind of cruel–loved his character):
*7/12 UPDATE: A reader named Natalie tells me that her great-great grandfather, Francis Winfield Towles, lived here, and she sent me some amazing old photos of the house. Here’s one from the early 1900s:
Love that there’s a dog in the pic.
Looks like there was a whole upper porch that has since been eliminated. And part of it was apparently screened in–at least that’s how it looks in the photo below:
She writes that Francis’s father, Daniel Freeman Towles, had the house built, “but he died mining phosphate in Charleston around 1880 and his body was never recovered from the mine. He didn’t live in the house but for a few years before he died. Francis Winfield Towles lived it it from 1880 until his death in 1927, so most people know it as his home.”
She sent me this wonderful photo from 1956, too:
Francis Towles made the South Carolina history books. One said he is “rightfully called the father of the truck growing industry in the South, for it was he who first demonstrated the feasibility and profit in growing and shipping vegetables to outside markets.”
Isn’t that interesting? Thanks, Natalie!
Noah poses for a newspaper reporter who is writing about his renovated house:
Allie, who is planning a wedding to another man, sees the article in the paper. She realizes that Noah has actually made good on his long-ago promise to restore the house. It’s even white with blue shutters, as she requested. She drives over there to see it–and him. (Her fiance, played by James Marsden, doesn’t stand a chance.)
She agrees to stay for dinner, and they reminisce about the last time they were in this room together:
When Allie wakes up the next morning, Noah has a surprise for her–an art studio he has created just for her in the house:
The actual home they used is Martin’s Point Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, built in 1772 (via the DVD special features). They decided to make this house look old for the beginning of the film, rather than take a rundown house and fix it up.
Of these three houses, do you have a favorite? I would opt for the white house with the blue shutters, myself. I love the view of the water from the porches. How about you?