With the chill of fall in the air, our minds keep going back to school days. And the smell of new books mixed withvision of ivy, blazers and preppy sweaters dance in our heads. Surely, no film captures the heady days of high school discovery better than that all-America coming-of-age classic, ‘Dead Poets Society.’ Set in 1959, the film features Robin Williams as the inspiring teacher every student wishes they had, based on real-life professor Samuel F. Pickering. Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard as his young pupils, the 1989 film was based on writer Tom Schulman’s own experiences at Montgomery Bell Academy, an all-boys’ prep school in Nashville, Tenessee. Only he set it in the aristocratic world of New England prep schools, at the fictional Welton Academy in Vermont.
Director Peter Weir, himself a veteran of the prep school scene, found his vision of the quintessential New England prep school in an unexpected place — Middletown, Delaware. He had originally planned on using scenic Berry College near Rome, Georgia, but the weather was too warm, even in November, to stand in for Vermont. So instead, he chose St. Andrew’s School, a co-ed boarding school located at 350 Noxontown Road, in Middletown, Delaware.
Other local landmark appear in the film, including the historic Everett Theatre, (47 W. Main St.; 302-378-7038) where you can catch productions of such famous plays. In the film, the theater hosted ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream,’ today you can see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita,’ onstage though Oct. 18. Another landmark you won’t want to miss is the cave where to secret society held its meetings. It’s actually easy to find, since there is only one cave in the entire state of Delaware — Beaver Valley Cave, also known as Wolf Rock. Just make sure you know the secret password.