Q. I’m a “Dawson’s Creek” fan planing a summer trip to Wilmington. After all these years, where do I go to see the Wilmington of Dawson days? Are there any places left that were part of the show? Do the stores have souvenirs?
A. “Dawsons’ Creek,” a WB TV series that filmed in the Cape Fear region for about six years, wrapped in 2003.
The show, which was praised and panned for its hyper-sexual, super-wordy dialogue, centered around four high school students in the small town of Capeside, Mass. — wannabe filmmaker Dawson (James Van Der Beek), sweet girl-next-door Joey (Katie Holmes), lovable scoundrel Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and new vixen in town Jen (Michelle Williams).
The series also inspired thousands of its fans to visit its sets, prompting the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau to create a Frequently Asked Questions sheet for the show’s fans and visitors to the region.
Among the locations made famous:
Hell’s Kitchen, 118 Princess St.: “Dawson’s Creek” needed a gritty college bar for its last season. And filmmakers needed to use it often. So instead of renting one of downtown’s many watering holes, producers bought one. They converted a natural-food store called Mollye’s Market into the bar they were looking for.
When the show ended and the property was put up for sale, most of the set — band posters, graffiti-ed tables and other knickknacks — remained in the building. Local restaurateur Ash Aziz bought the property in 2003 and turned it into a real restaurant and bar.
Although Hell’s Kitchen is under different ownership now, it still retains nearly all the “Dawson’s Creek” memorabilia.
Water Street Restaurant, 5 S. Water St.: No “Dawson’s Creek” pilgrimage is complete without a stop by the fish house Dawson’s family owned, Leery’s Fresh Fish. The building looks just like it did when all the characters stopped by for a bite to eat after their high school classes. Water Street Restaurant can be spotted often through the show’s early seasons.
University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Rd.: Film crews rolled onto campus twice a month to film outdoor locations. Several buildings were used, including William Randall Library and Alderman Hall, which served as the facade of Capeside High School. Most interior scenes, though, were filmed on a soundstage at Wilmington’s EUE/Screen Gems Studios.
During filming, UNCW used its role as a central figure on “Dawson’s Creek” as a recruitment tool, and many of its students were interns on the production. The university is proud of its part on the show. A plaque on a bench at Alderman Hall keeps that history alive.
Hewlett’s Creek: Where exactly is Dawson’s Creek? There’s no such place. All those beautiful sunset shots of Dawson standing on his dock among the marsh grass were actually filmed along Hewlett’s Creek, best viewed from Pine Grove Road between Masonboro Loop Road and Holly Tree Drive.
Dawson’s house was an actual private residence along the water. But it’s not open for tours.
Dockside Restaurant, 1308 Airlie Road, Wrightsville Beach [Map this]: When Dawson and friends go to The Icehouse for a few beers, they are sitting at a downtown bar called The Icehouse. But when the cameras pan from the bar to the outside where blue water sparkles and boats pass, you’re actually looking at a view from Dockside Restaurant at Wrightsville Beach. The water is the Intracoastal Waterway.
The restaurant eventually burned down on the show because in reality, the downtown site became unusable because of an extensive construction project next door. And to make matters worse, the real Icehouse was soon demolished.
For more information on “Dawson’s Creek” and its filming locations, click here. The information is provided by the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Center.
Date posted: July 11, 2012
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