I knew after my trip that I was definitely going to want to write this post about all of the “Hocus Pocus” filming locations in Salem, MA. I’m not ashamed to admit that my #1 reason for wanting to go to Salem was definitely Hocus Pocus. I watched that movie in theatres in 1993 and I loved it. I’d always wanted to go to Salem but never made it past Boston anytime I found myself in Massachusetts.
I had no idea what the layout of Salem was but I started Googling “Hocus Pocus filming locations” as soon as our hotel and car were booked for our little 4 day getaway at the beginning of August.
I’ll admit that we didn’t get to all of them – that’s okay though. We saw the important ones and two of them we saw on our first night!
The Old Town Hall
As I mentioned in my roundup of the historical ghost walking tour we did that first night, our hotel, the Hotel Salem, was located a block away from the Old Town Hall. The Old Town Hall served as the exterior for the high school where everyone’s parents were at a Halloween dance and were put under a spell to dance all night by the Sanderson Sisters.
The Old Town Hall was closed while we were there for obvious reasons but our tour told us that it’s used for government meetings sometimes but very rarely.
It’s a large brick building in the middle of an open square, bookended with brick buildings that have since been converted into stores and apartments. I wonder what it would be like to live there.
The Old Town Hall is located at 32 Derby Square, Salem, MA 01970.
The Ropes Mansion
We saw the next site on my Hocus Pocus sights-to-see list during our walking tour – the Ropes Mansion.
The mansion was also located on Essex Street – just a few blocks past the Old Town Hall. (Needless to say, everything is very walkaback in Salem!) The Ropes Mansion served as the exterior for Allison’s house in Hocus Pocus – the one where Max gets Allison to leave the party and candy duty to go drive to the Sanderson Sisters house that’s home to the Black Flame Candle.
The mansion is gorgeous! Sadly, they weren’t doing tours while we were there but I took a ton of pictures. Learn about the hauntings in the Ropes Mansion over here!
I so wish we could have gone inside though.
If you’re there at a time when they are offering interviews, however, if you buy a ticket to the Ropes Mansion, you can also use the same ticket to get into the Peabody Essex Museum, so that’s pretty great.
The Ropes Mansion is located at 318 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970. You can visit the Peabody Essex Museum’s website for more information here.
John Bailey High School on Salem Common
This is a site that I walked by but I didn’t realize that it was a site for the film until I was looking up addresses for this post.
John Bailey High School closed it’s doors in 1992 but they were temporarily re-opened for the filming of Hocus Pocus the following year so they could film exterior scenes – specifically Max leaving high school on Halloween.
Since then the former John Bailey High School has been converted into apartments (of course, what else!). But if you want to see it, you walk a few blocks down Essex Street from downtown Salem.
John Bailey High School is located at 86 Essex Street, Salem, MA, 01970.
The beautiful open common area on the backside of John Bailey High School was seen during the beginning scenes of Hocus Pocus. You might remember the meeting between the characters of Allison and Max while Allison is walking home.
She tells Max trick’or’treat and gives him a small square of paper. He smiles only to realize that it’s the piece of paper that he gave her with his number on it earlier in the day in front of their entire class (bad move, Max).
Salem Common is accessible at 30 Washington Square, Salem, MA 01970.
Old Burial Cemetery
We didn’t get a chance to check out Marblehead where the cemetery from Hocus Pocus is located, but if you want to check it out, you should!
This is where Max runs into his shitty classmates during the day and gets his sneakers stolen at the beginning of Hocus Pocus.
Thanks again to Hollywood, you would think this cemetery (which happens to be one of the oldest cemeteries in the country!) was in downtown Salem, but it’s in Marblehead which is the next town over and a car is definitely necessary to visit it.
According to my research, there gravestones are really well preserved and you will have a beautiful view of the harbor from inside the cemetery. I think it’s worth the Uber ride if you’re in Salem without a car!
The Old Burial Cemetery is located at 52 Orne Street, Marblehead, MA. You can learn more about it on their site. http://www.oldburialhill.org
Salem Pioneer Village (Thackery Binx’s House)
The next two stops are walkaback from downtown Salem, but if you have a car, I’d suggest driving there.
The opening scene of Hocus Pocus was actually filmed at a legit historical site in Salem called Salem Pioneer Village. It is a replica of what houses were like in Salem in 1630, so it was perfect for the opening scene of the movie!
When Thackery Binx, as a human before he’s turned into a black cat, realizes his sister is gone and runs out of his home, this is where he was running from.
Unfortunately, when we were there it was still closed to visitors because of COVID.
There was a school (or camp?) group in there so I almost snuck in when a person in charge left the gate open but I didn’t.
However, I was able to take photos of the house that they used as the exterior of the Sanderson house over the fence, so it wasn’t overall a waste of time.
The houses look very rickety and unstable, which is probably historically accurate, with hay roofs, perfect for catching on fire, which I’m sure they probably did back in 1630. (For the record, these houses were built in 1930!)
I think Salem Pioneer Village is probably a pretty cool place to visit and tour when it’s actually open. Maybe next time!
Salem Pioneer Village is located at 98 West Street, Salem, MA 01970. You can visit their site for more information here.
Max and Dani’s House
The last filming location that I saw we actually passed after the Sanderson Sisters House on our way out of the city of Salem. This one is also a hike.
Based on how Hocus Pocus is filmed, you would think that Max and Dani’s house is a quick walk away from Allison’s house (aka The Ropes Mansion).
However, you’d be wrong. Their house is a 5-10 minute drive south from the Ropes Mansion, or maybe a 30-40 minute walk.
I mean, after visiting Salem I completely understand why they would’ve traveled up to downtown Salem to go trick-or-treating. Can you honestly say that you didn’t also visit the rich people’s houses to get the full size candy bars when you were a kid?
Max and Dani’s house is in the true suburban part of Salem. There’s nothing historical nearby and not a tourist in sight.
Also something I didn’t expect was that their house is at the end of the street and on the water. In the movie, doesn’t it feel like it’s located in the middle of a busy American suburban street? Oh, Hollywood.
The house is also way smaller on the outside than it looks in the movie – from both the outside and from the inside. On the street where I was standing, it didn’t look as though Max would have been able to sit in the top part of the house that later gets blown off by the Sanderson Sisters. Nor would there have been a bedroom big enough to be Max’s bedroom.
Hollywood camera angles are a mysterious thing.
All of the things that I found surprising about the house wouldn’t stop me from taking pictures of and in front of it though! Oh no. I’d traveled from New York City to see this house and prove I was here.
I took a bunch of photos and Nick took a bunch of photos of me in front of the house and we were on our way.
I wonder what the people who live there think about strangers dropping by on a daily basis to photograph their house. I would imagine it’s pretty weird.
That’s a Wrap!
So much of Hocus Pocus was filmed on soundstages but there are still a few exteriors that you can see and I hope this is helpful if you’re venturing to Salem and, like me, love this movie so much!
Let me know below if you’ve visited these places, and especially if you were able to go into the Salem Pioneer Village.