The Shelburne County Museum will be hosting a retrospective exhibit of Scarlet Letter memorabilia this winter, featuring items on loan from the public plus items from the museum's collection, such as this prop tankard and cup, along with the back panel of Roland Joffé's director's chair.
Sue Deschene photo
By Sue Deschene
As the 20th anniversary of the filming of The Scarlet Letter approaches, the Historic Shelburne Museum Complex is looking to borrow props, costumes and anything else people might still have on hand from those exciting days of location shooting along Shelburne's historic Dock Street.
The Shelburne County Museum will be hosting a retrospective exhibit of Scarlet Letter memorabilia this winter.
The museum has a small collection of items from the movie set, says Acting Curator Leah Griffiths. But she is asking locals for more. Besides props, costumes and other Scarlet Letter memorabilia, the museum is also looking for people's stories from that time.
“It was a big deal for Shelburne,” Griffith notes. “I think people would be interested to hear people's reminiscences. Anyone who was involved in the production in any way, we would love to hear their stories. Please come and tell us about your experiences with The Scarlet Letter.”
These stories will be posted as part of the exhibit.
Based on Nathaniel Hawthorn's 1850 novel, the movie adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was directed by Roland Joffé and starred Demi Moore, Gary Oldman and Robert Duvall. The film was released in October 1995 to negative reviews from the critics, and it bombed at the box office.
But none of this diminished the thrill over having a major Hollywood film produced in Shelburne. Set construction began in 1994, followed by filming and post-production. Locals actively participated in the process, serving as extras in the cast, assisting the prop master with prop- and set-building, and performing other essential tasks.
As sets went up, Shelburne's waterfront was dramatically transformed into a cinematic version of 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony. Most of these sets were temporary structures that were torn down after filming, but some remain with us today, including the steeple on Cox's Warehouse and the Guild Hall.
The Guild Hall is still very much in use, hosting Founders' Days concerts, the Saturday farmers' markets and other community activities.
Another benefit still being enjoyed today is the buried power lines along Dock Street, providing an unobstructed view of Shelburne's historic waterfront.
Anyone wanting to share Scarlet Letter stories or loan items should call, e-mail or stop by the Shelburne County Museum. The goal is to have everything collected by the end of October. Call 902-875-3219, or e-mail Griffiths at firstname.lastname@example.org.