The charming white Victorian from Practical Magic is one of my favorite movie houses. Producer Denise DiNova says that the house where the Owens family of witches lived played such an important role in the story that they knew they’d have to build it themselves: “I don’t think we could ever have found a house that could have matched our needs.”
The White Victorian Built for the Movie
The story takes place in New England, but the house was built on an island in Washington State.
It took them 8 months to build this “architectural shell” that was later destroyed after filming was over.
Even the flowers in the garden were fake, but you couldn’t tell, could you? 😉
Sisters Sally and Gillian live here with their aunts Frances (Fran) and Bridget (Jet).
The house is framed by a white picket fence and a wraparound porch:
The movie was based on the bestselling novel by Alice Hoffman.
The side porch overlooking the garden and water:
Entry Hall and Staircase:
The interior sets were all created in a studio in Los Angeles.
The Potions Room:
The pantry is where the Owens women store ingredients for their magic potions. The props department reportedly filled hundreds of bottles to put inside these glass-fronted cabinets.
Sally’s Shop in Town:
The town they used was Coupeville on Whidbey Island in Washington.
They painted everything in the town white for filming.
The stairs go up from the attic to the lighthouse-like tower:
Looking down the staircase:
After they accidentally killed Gillian’s boyfriend Jimmy (played by Goran Visnjic), the sisters cast a spell to bring him back to life. Unfortunately, he came back as a kind of zombie who was way creepier and even more evil than the original Jimmy had been. I hate when that happens…
They tie possessed Gillian to a chair and plan a kind of exorcism for her in the parlor. They round up women from the town (via the school’s phone tree, of course!) to help them.
Production photo behind the scenes:
Photos from a 1998 article in Victoria Magazine:
“The Aga is almost like a shrine,” production designer Robin Standefer says of the gas stove that is the focal point of the kitchen. “This is the place where they do their work; it’s where they place the cauldron.”
The back stairs off the kitchen:
BTW: A reader told me about a kitchen inspired by the one in Practical Magic. You can see it here:
The kitchen in the movie:
Double doors leading from the kitchen out to the conservatory:
“The house itself has a certain magic to it,” production designer Robin Standefer says. “There is a whole world in this house and garden. These women are outcasts and this place is their sanctuary.”
Director Griffin Dunne says he was enchanted by the script:
“It was literally like a cauldron. Every emotion, theme and ingredient you could imagine was swirling around in it. I particularly liked the women’s use of magic; it comes right from the title. It’s about a more practical, almost holistic approach that seems like a gift that virtually anyone could have.”
Dismantling the House After Filming:
A reader named Derek tells me that the exterior set was built on an old Indian burial ground, so they weren’t allowed to dig there or disturb the site. The entire house was built on a giant platform instead. He sent me this photo of it being taken down, and you can see that it was “empty” inside.
You can find a lot more information on the fan site Amas Veritas, which is where I found a few of these photos. (Update: it looks like they’ve since closed that site.)
Others are from a Victoria Magazine photo shoot in 1998. The rest were ones I took while watching the movie.