Last week, I had a chance to visit Vermont on my annual fall trip to New England. As luck would have it, the weather was beautiful and the foliage was still at its peak. But the most memorable part of the trip this year had nothing to do with the New England’s fall colors. Instead, it was my adventures while tracking down the filming locations of one of my favorite movies that topped even the New England foliage for me.
The movie in question was Baby Boom, a film about a successful, career woman named J.C., charmingly played by Diane Keaton. J.C. turned her life upside down after she inherited a baby from a distant relative and moved to Vermont. Baby Boom came out in 1987 and earned favorable reviews from critics and audiences everywhere. Mine included.
So to say that I was excited to be in Vermont, one of the main filming locations of the movie, was an understatement.
Thanks to my friend’s sleuthing talent, we managed to find the addresses of two of the locations in Vermont where Baby Boom was filmed: Grange Hall in Manchester, and the Hapgood General Store in Peru (not the country).
We started off with Grange Hall which was almost impossible to find. After spending close to an hour googling for its address on our mobile phones, my friend (let’s call her Nancy Drew since she was as resourceful as Nancy herself - if not more so) decided to ask someone in town instead. Nancy walked to the nearby Equinox Resort heading straight for its concierge desk. The nice lady with silver hair working at the front desk knew the answer right away. She gave us directions on how to get to Grange Hall while duly warning us that it was “not much to look at now.”
With map in hand, we drove through historic Manchester Village on Route 7A, passed Northshire Bookstore the town’s favorite gathering spot, and made a left on Memorial Avenue. Shortly after the turn, we arrived at our destination, a small, unassuming white building on the right with “Mt. Equinox Grange” in black metal lettering discreetly tacked on the front.
In the movie, Grange Hall was the setting of the dance at the Maple Syrup Festival. Today, Grange Hall housed a ballet school. It looked nothing like it did in the movie years ago. But somehow standing in front of Grange Hall was still magical enough for me. I could almost hear the music streaming out the front door as J.C. happily danced the night away with her romantic country doctor, portrayed by the very tall and subtly handsome Sam Shepard.
Our next stop in Vermont after Grange Hall was the Hapgood General Store where J.C. sold her jars of baby apple sauce to out-of-town visitors. Hapgood General Store was in Peru, Vermont, about 11 miles northeast of Manchester. With our GPS turned on, we drove through the Green Mountain National Forest on the long and winding road of Route 11.
Once we saw sign for Peru, we turned left onto Main Street, passed the village cemetery, a small post office, and finally found our second destination. The Hapgood General Store was surprisingly easy to spot. It was a small, butter-yellow cottage with a red roof by the side of Main Street. There was a “Sorry, we’re closed” sign casually slung on the front door, and yet the house still felt lived in somehow.
I got out of the car and walked toward the store. I peered in the window but could not see much through the dusty glass except for a small chalkboard sign that said “Wednesday night is half price pizza night.” There was a community bulletin board in front of the store with a few notes and ads casually pinned on.
Just when I was about to give up and leave, I spotted a cute golden retriever walking alongside a man who was pushing a lawnmower in the little garden next to the store. I walked over and introduced myself hoping that the man would have some information on the place.
It turned out this gentleman was Mark Johnson, the current owner of the Hapgood General Store. Mr. Johnson told me that his family had been living at the store for about ten years. He turned the little establishment into a pizza restaurant a few years back, but for the past couple of years business had been slowing down substantially. His family now owned another pizza restaurant outside of Peru which seemed to be doing much better than this one.
Mr. Johnson said he planned to reopen the Hapgood General Store pizza restaurant in the near future. He had big plans for the re-opening and even thought of selling “Country Baby” food jars in honor of the movie.
In addition to being a historic landmark, the Hapgood General Store was also situated in a beautiful, idyllic setting. It would be a shame to see all this go to waste. From time to time, people still came to the store out of curiosity or to admire the location where “Baby Boom” was filmed, Mr. Johnson shared.
“It would be great if you could write something about this place to help bring business back to the area,” Mr. Johnson said to me. Before we shook hands and parted ways, I promised him I would write an article for our Reel-Scout blog about the Hapgood General Store. This place was a gem and it needed all the support it could get.
As I was walking away from Mr. Johnson and the Hapgood General Store, I could still see J.C. and her adorable baby standing by the counter talking and laughing with the customers and townsfolk.
If Diane Keaton herself happens to read this article, I wonder what lovely things she may have to say about Grange Hall and the Hapgood General Store. What wonderful memories will Ms. Keaton share with us on her weeks or months spent filming in Vermont?
After all, movie magic does stay on - long after the final cut.
Photo via Google.