My Girl (1991)

For those seeking out the filming locations of the 1991 film “My Girl,” prepare yourself for a lengthy journey.  While the film was set in Madison, Pennsylvania, it was shot mostly around Central Florida, with many of the locations scattered far apart from one another, tucked away in small towns.  To see the “My Girl” locations for yourself requires a lot of time and travel.

The Saltenfuss house, where Vada, played by Anna Chlumsky, lives with her father Harry, played by Dan Aykroyd, can be found in the town of Bartow, Florida.  For quite some time after the film, the property operated as a bed and breakfast.  Due to the property’s distance from major tourist destinations, however, it was unfortunately forced to shut down due to a lack of guest bookings.  It has since returned to being a private residence.  The house is very impressive and recognizable to how it appeared on screen, so if you have the time to venture to Bartow and are a fan of the film, it’s worth the journey.

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LOCATION: 555 E Stanford St, Bartow, FL 33830

Shelly, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, pulls her RV up from around this corner in front of the house.

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The main street where Veda and Thomas J., played by Macaulay Culkin, ride their bikes can be found in Sanford, Florida.  They can be seen crossing this road with the clock tower to the right, then riding down the sidewalk.

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LOCATION: Intersection of E 1st St and Magnolia Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

They then ride their bikes up a ramp that specifically says “no bicycles,” taking a short cut through a mechanic’s garage.  That building and ramp have since been demolished.  The alley they exit onto can still be found, however, where the garage owner yells at them as they ride away.

LOCATION: Alley directly behind 228 E 1st StSanford, FL 32771

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As they approach Dr. Welty’s office, they continue riding their bikes down another alley, which features a “Nixon / Agnew ’72” poster on the brick wall.  This alley really is just around the corner from the Dr. Welty’s office filming location.

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LOCATION: Alley between 107 and 111 Magnolia Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

Vada visits Dr, Welty’s office, where, in spite of her claims that she’s sick, the doctor insists she’s in perfect health.

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LOCATION: 113 Magnolia Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

The kids then come across their school teacher, Mr. Bixler, played by Griffin Dunne, who is painting his house.

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LOCATION: 605 Magnolia Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

The tree where Vada and Thomas J. become “blood brothers” and later kiss in the film was a bit of movie magic.  It was, in fact, an artificial tree, built in part using pieces of a real tree.  After extensive location hunting for a willow tree beside a lake, the filmmakers failed to find what they were looking for and instead opted to make their own tree.  A team was hired to cut down a large oak tree, tagging each branch for reassembly, then uprooting it and moving it to the lake location.  The lake in question is Mirror Lake in Clermont, Florida, which is located somewhat far away from the other filming locations.  The base of the tree was held in place by five tons of cement, with metal coupling sleeves to reinforce the branches.  They then covered the entire thing with $15,000 worth of silk willow leaves to give you the tree you saw in the film, which appeared quite authentic.  Today all that remains in the metallic base of the tree.  The dock was there until a few years ago, when it was removed due to deterioration.

This portion of the lake is not open to the public and is not visible from the road.  However, the much of the surrounding land is currently up for sale, in an effort to develop more housing around the area.  So while an eventual sale of the property could open it up for easier visibility, there is always the possibility that developing the land could in turn lead to the removal of the tree base.  The reason it hasn’t already been removed is most likely due to the five tons of concrete beneath.

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LOCATION: Mirror Lake, Old Hwy 50 W, Clermont, FL 34711 (closest known address is 15647 Old Hwy 50 W, Clermont, FL 34711, the GPS coordinates of the tree base itself are 28.565015, -81.700218)

A bit closer look at the tree base.

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Vada sneaks over to Thomas J.’s house and asks him to go to the church with her to spy on her father’s date with Shelly.

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LOCATION: 603 Myrtle Ave, Sanford, FL 32771

They church they head to is Ocoee Christian Church in Ocoee, Florida.  The kids can be seen walking down the sidewalk on the left and passing the front steps as they make their way over to the bingo tent.  Once again, Ocoee is not a short drive to get to and it’s somewhat puzzling why the filmmakers chose such a far-removed location, as surely there must have been other churches available that were closer to the other filming locations.

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LOCATION: 15 S Bluford Ave, Ocoee, FL 34761

Here is the yard to the church, where the bingo tent was set up.

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The school where Mr. Bixler teaches his creative writing class can be found at the 1914 Plant City High School Community Building, not to be confused with the present day Plant City High School.  The 1914 building is an old landmark and serves as a community center.

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LOCATION: 605 N Collins St, Plant City, FL 33563

Back in Sanford, near the end of the film, Thomas J.’s mother runs into Harry at The Breezeway Restaurant & Bar, which is located right by the clock tower on main street, where the kids are seen riding their bikes early in the film.  Harry is eating inside, when he comes out and speaks to her on this sidewalk at the corner.

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LOCATION: 112 E 1st St, Sanford, FL 32771

If you’re a fan of the film, the good news is most of the filming locations are still preserved.  The biggest challenge, aside from the handful of locations found around the town of Sanford, is simply traveling around to all of these distant towns from one another, which composite the small Pennsylvania town depicted in the film.

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