Downtown Peyton Place (Camden, Maine, 1957)
A scene from the original film version of Peyton Place.
Welcome to Camden, Maine
Camden, Maine: Main Street -- May 2000
(Same location as photo at top)
In the year 1969, man walked on the moon.
In the year 2000, the Meeker Museum walked in Peyton Place, or, more accurately Camden, Maine, the picturesque New England coastal town chosen in 1957 to represent Peyton Place for the original film version of Grace Metalious's legendary novel.
The event was the Camden Film Festival -- held May 4-7, 2000. We first heard about it on the Internet back in the spring and we instantly made plans to attend. Needless to say, a walk on the moon -- or Mars or Neptune or anywhere else -- could not possibly have been as exciting as visiting the Peyton Place movie locales. And as if that weren't enough, we also attended Peyton Place-related lectures and screenings, and took a very pleasant and informative Peyton Place bus tour to still more locations used in the film. We even attended an elegant afternoon tea party at the White Hall Inn, where Allison MacKenzie stays near the end of the film. On the Inn's long porch, we sat in a chair on approximately the same spot where Diane Varsi sits in the film. Cosmic!
Obviously Camden has changed a bit in the 43 years since 20th Century-Fox hit town, but much of the place is strangely familiar from the movie.
We even climbed up Mount Battie and found the actual rock where Allison and Norman discuss "books in plain wrappers" and awkwardly engage in an innocent kiss. And speaking of Norman -- we spoke to celebrity guest Russ Tamblyn a couple of times during the weekend and found him to be completely charming. He gave a particularly interesting speech during one of the events. Terry Moore was originally scheduled to take part in the Camden festival, but canceled at the last minute.
Sadly, Diane Varsi passed away in 1992 at the age of 54. During the weekend a number of people expressed curiosity about the enigmatic young girl who so vividly brought Allison MacKenzie to life on screen and received an Oscar nomination for her film debut. Certainly, if Varsi were alive she would have been invited to the Peyton Place festivities, but it seems rather doubtful that she would have wanted to return in any way to that part of her life. Who knows?
Nevertheless, visiting the holy lands of Camden, Maine, was a soul-cleansing experience for the Meeker Museum.
Our Peyton Place pages will be a work in "progress," but will not in any way be a definitive exploration of Grace Metalious's (or 20th Century-Fox's) creation. We just want to share some of what we have, including some stills from Peyton Place displayed with the same locations -- 43 years later!
The Meeker Museum Collection