Campus News

Bowdoin's Breckinridge Center Serves as Location for Empire Falls

Story posted August 26, 2003

Bowdoin College's Breckinridge Public Affairs Center in York, Maine, was used as a location for the HBO film adaptation of Richard Russo's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls.

The 23-acre estate, which includes the 25-room main building known as River House, served as the Whiting mansion, home to the character played by Joanne Woodward.


Watch the Empire Falls trailer.

Russo's novel recounts the lives of the blue-collar citizens of a small Maine town, struggling since the closure of the local shirt factory and paper mill. A production of Falls Films Inc., the HBO film was shot in several Maine locations between September and November 2003, mostly in and around Waterville and Skowhegan.

About a week of filming took place at Breckinridge that fall. The Breckinridge scenes feature Woodward (as Mrs. Whiting) and Ed Harris (playing Miles Roby, the lead character).

The film's executive producer was Paul Newman, who co-starred as Roby's father. The A-list cast also included Helen Hunt (Roby's soon-to-be ex-wife) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Mayne).

The Breckinridge Public Affairs Center has been owned and operated by Bowdoin since it was given to the College in 1974 by Mrs. Marvin Breckinridge Patterson. Located on the tidal York River, it is used for classes, seminars, and meetings of educational, cultural and civic groups. Business and professional organizations also use the facility for planning sessions and staff development activities. River House is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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