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Wednesday April 17th 2024

The Notebook | 2004

The Notebook film location: Martins Point Plantation, Martins Point Road, Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina
The Notebook film location: Noah renovates the old house: Martins Point Plantation, Martins Point Road, Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina | Photograph: flickr / Tristan Rosier

In a care home, the ageing Duke (James Garner) reads a story of young romance to Allie (Gena Rowlands). The dots are soon joined, and the tears well and truly jerked in Nick Cassavetes’ film of the Nicholas Sparks novel.

Although the novel is set in North Carolina, the film was made largely in South Carolina, in and around Charleston.

The nursing home is the Rice Hope Plantation House, on the north bank of Black River, off County Road-S-22-4 (Choppee Road), just south of Denmark Drive. Now owned by the International Paper Company, it’s a private property, about 10 miles north of Georgetown.

The Notebook film location: American Theater, 446 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina
The Notebook film location: young Noah and Allie go to the movies: American Theater, 446 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina | Photograph: American Theater / Andrew Cebulka, Heirloom Creative Photography

Young Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) go to see Buster Keaton in Li’l Abner at the 1940s deco American Theater, 446 King Street, Charleston. You won’t be able to watch a film here any more, but the American is now a prestigious event space.

A couple of blocks north, Noah and Allie lie down to watch the traffic lights at the junction of King Street and Mary Street. In the period the scene takes place, it’s fair to assume there was less traffic, so – romantic as it looks – it’s probably best not to repeat the moment. Anyway, there are no overhead lights here.

The summer house of Allie’s monied family is the Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, about eight miles north of Charleston. Although the original wooden house was built in 1790, the house you see now was built in 1936. Nevertheless, this is one of America's oldest living and working plantations, Boone Hall has been producing crops for over 320 years – once cotton and pecans, now strawberries, tomatoes and pumpkins.

If you visit Charleston itself, you can see the spectacularly lavish interior used for the home, which is the Calhoun Mansion, 14-16 Meeting Street. Built in 1876, the Mansion is the largest residence in the city, boasting 35 rooms, a grand ballroom, Japanese water gardens, ornate chandeliers and a 90-foot cupola. Beautifully restored to its original glory, the mansion is a private home but there are daily tours.

After the magnificence of the Calhoun Mansion, the class divide opens up between Allie and Noah when she visits the modest little home he shares with his dad (Sam Shepard), at Edisto Beach on Edisto Island.

Edisto is not the beach on which Noah and Allie frolic in the surf. That’s not in South Carolina at all. The rocky coastline was filmed in California, at El Matador Beach, in Malibu.

Conversely, it is in South Carolina you’ll find the ‘New York’ college which Allie attends. ‘Sarah Lawrence College’ is really the College of Charleston, 66 George Street also seen in another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, 2010's Dear John, as well as The Patriot, Cold Mountain, O (Tim Blake Nelson's highschool update of William Shakespeare’s Othello).

Meanwhile, Noah and his best pal go off to war, and another location outside South Carolina. The wintery battlefield is outside Montreal, Quebec.

About 15 miles southwest of Charleston is Wadmalaw Island, where you’ll find the house Noah plans to buy and restore.

Rather than taking the unpredictable route of renovating a dilapidated shell, the production took over a perfectly fine house and distressed it for the film. As Noah works, the house, Martins Point Plantation, on the northwest angle of Martins Point Road, is taken back to its usual pristine state. It’s a private home, so I’m sure I don’t need to remind you not to disturb the residents.

Time passes and the pair are separated, only for Noah finally to glimpse Allie again on a visit to Charleston. The restaurant, where he sees her with fiancé Lon (James Marsden) is High Cotton, 199 East Bay Street, Charleston.

Noah takes Allie boating through a flock of geese at Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner, another location seen in Cold Mountain and The Patriot, along with Swamp Thing. This is one moment you won’t be able to recreate – the geese were trained and brought in just for the movie.