Practical Magic: Is Maria’s Island a Real Town in Massachusetts?

The town of Maria’s Island forms the backdrop of the 1998 fantasy film ‘Practical Magic.’ Quaint and picturesque, the town in Massachusetts is the home of magic and sorcery, as it was once the place of domicile for the witch Maria Owens. Years later, after Sally and Gillian Owens lose their parents, they move in with their aunt Frances and Bridget on Maria’s Island. The seaport settlement harbors a group of townspeople who are against the idea of witches living among them, leading the two Owens sisters to grow up ostracized, shunned, and bullied by their peers and locals. Still, the town holds a charming seaside aesthetic that seamlessly assists and compliments the witching tale full of sorcery and myth, which begs an exploration into its existence in real life.

The Magical Real-Life Counterpart of Maria’s Island

Maria’s Island is a fictional town conceived by Alice Hoffman, whose novel ‘Practical Magic’ was adapted into the romantic fantasy film of the same name. The place is pivotal to the narrative because of its ties to magic. In the past, Maria Owens, the first witch in the Owens family tree, built a house on the island after her lover abandoned her. Following her demise and the continuation of the Owens women, there was always a legacy of witches who grew up in the house Maria built and the town itself. Furthermore, due to the town’s previous prejudices, the local people are suspicious and untrusting of the Owens as they believe they are witches who should not mix with ordinary people. Added on top of that is the weight of the Owens curse, which brings a death sentence for any man who falls in love with an Owens witch.

Shots for the town were filmed in Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Washington. The waterfront town of Coupeville acknowledges this connection by hosting an anniversary every year to celebrate the release of ‘Practical Magic.’ In the film, several real-life establishments within the village were transformed into filming locations. The Catch and Fry was shot in Toby’s Tavern at 8 Front Street North-West, Coupeville, a favorite drinking spot for the locals. Likewise, Sally’s botanical shop was actually the Little Red Hen Bakery at 4 Front Street North-West, Coupeville, and several shots featuring the same street were part of the film, albeit a minor one. When Detective Gary Hallet drops in to investigate Jimmy Angelov, the serial killer in a relationship with Gillian, the former stays at 13 Front Street North-West in the town.

Alternatively, while there is no Maria’s Island town in real life, a similarly named island called Maria Island can be found in the Tasman Sea, just off the coast of Tasmania, Australia. The island lacks large human populations and has only one settlement in the northern part, Darlington. It has a mountainous terrain, with its tallest mountain being Mount Maria, which stands 2,333 feet above sea level. However, although the fictional town in Massachusetts and the Tasmanian island may share similar names, their histories and lore separate them entirely. Maria’s Island refers to Maria Owens, the first witch in the Owens family with magic in her veins. Meanwhile, Maria Island is an island, not a town.

Although Sally and Gillian spend most of their childhood and adolescence in the New England settlement, the latter leaves first when the aspersions cast by the townspeople begin suffocating her. On the other hand, the former finds a lover in the town and gets married. She spends a decade or more with her new husband, Michael, mothering two children with him before he falls prey to the Owens curse, which plagues all women in her family. Thus, her ties to the town go beyond her personal life as Sally runs a magically-influenced botanical shop on the town’s market road. Despite the fact those around her do not welcome her, she stubbornly persists and tries to fit in as best as she can without standing out.

Maria’s Island may hold a grudge for magic users, but its toy-town and old-school vibes perfectly represent witchcraft elements. In conclusion, Mary’s Island is a fictional fabrication by Hoffman, which was adapted for the screen by filmmaker Griffin Dunne and his creative team. Even so, a real-life equivalent for the town can be found in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Washington. Yet, the actual town’s ties to the on-screen locality remain confined to the former’s equipment as the real-life filming location for ‘Practical Magic.’ Consequently, the town, Maria’s Island, retains its fictional origin.

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