For one very long evening last week, the colonial “ghost town” of the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site became “Sleepy Hollow,” as the hit FOX television series filmed there overnight.
The occasion was marked by the first full moon of autumn.
The site’s visitors center was transformed into the “Tarrytown Museum of Colonial History” for the afternoon and evening filming Friday, which actually stretched into the early hours of Saturday finally wrapping around 7 a.m.
Crews set up in the colonial site for outdoor scenes, one of which involved a chase on horseback, small explosions around two trees that utilized CGI, and scenes near the public house well on the bluff overlooking the Cape Fear River.
Special effects crews cut notches in the trees for use in the explosion scene, and the headless horsemen himself made an appearance.
Artists working on the production made exhibits, in the style of the actual permanent displays, that highlighted events from the 18th century, such as Gen. Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River. Workers also constructed an outdoor “Tarrytown” sign flanked by begonias in the courtyard, and etched another sign on the glass door of the museum.
Site interpreters Jim McKee and Shannon Walker signed up to appear as extras in the production, with Walker dressed in a museum worker’s outfit for indoor scenes.
“Sleepy Hollow” stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie and Orlando Jones, as Ichabod Crane (Mison) finds himself 250 years in the future. The show has blended historic events with apocalyptic science fiction to critical and fan acclaim. Four of the first five episodes have been filmed in the Wilmington area.
Earlier this month, FOX announced that it had renewed the show for a second season. New episodes of the show will resume airing at 9 p.m. on November 4.
On Friday, Mison spent time conversing with extras and crew on set between takes.
“He was a very nice fellow and a history buff himself who took a genuine interest in the site,” McKee said. “I told him it’s one of the best-kept secrets in colonial America.”
About 15 extras, some as school children in uniforms, were utilized for the episode, which is slated to air sometime in November.
The production has previously filmed in Brunswick County, in the woods on private property at Pleasant Oaks Plantation off N.C. 133. Other recent productions that have used the wooded areas there include “Safe Haven,” “Revolution” and “Under the Dome.”
Site workers said they were hopeful that the production would return in the future for more filming, but there is currently no word on when that might be.