We’ve always thought New England was magical, and now we’ve got proof.
Turns out there’s been an “American Hogwarts” on top of Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts all this time. Who knew?
For those of you who’ve been following the story less obsessively than I have, here’s the gist: J.K. Rowling is trying her hand at screenwriting, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will hit theaters on Nov. 18, 2016. It’ll be set in America, specifically 1920s New York City – meaning that the world of magic extends across the Atlantic. With a whole new country of young witches and wizards needing magical educations, Rowling had to invent some sort of “American Hogwarts.”
She called it the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and she put it in Massachusetts.
We here in the NewEngland.com and Yankee offices were incredibly excited to get official confirmation that our favorite region – New England, of course – is magical. (We’ve always suspected it, but it’s still nice to have proof.) After some further investigation, we saw the “American Hogwarts” is full of New England essence, too. Here are some of our favorite New England details about the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Its history is deeply intertwined in New England’s colonial history.
Ilvermorny founder Isolt Sayer was one of the first Europeans in what would later become the Massachusetts Bay Colony. With genealogical connections to Slytherin and a sinister upbringing to match, she took her fate in her own hands and boarded the Mayflower, fleeing for the New World like the rest of her fellow passengers. Her alias, Elias Story, appears in our muggle accounts of history too. Story was a real pilgrim who sailed to America as a servant and died with scores of others during the first harsh winter. However, in the magical history version, Elias didn’t die, Isolt simply suspected that her fellow settlers wouldn’t take too kindly to her magic and ran for the hills. Literally.
She hiked on foot from the Plymouth Colony to Mt. Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts. Along the way she met the people who’d soon become the school’s other three founders – two young wizard boys and a muggle man – also all former members of the Plymouth Colony.
The American Hogwarts is built out of granite.
If there was such a thing as a regional rock, New England’s would be granite. From Barre, VT, the self-proclaimed granite center of the world and Rockport, MA’s world-famous granite on Bearskin Neck to pretty much everything in New Hampshire (a.k.a., “the Granite State”), New England has got granite covered. It’s only fitting that if the North American wizarding school is going to be in New England, it should be built out of granite.
Also, at the top of Mt. Greylock and visible to muggle eyes is a 92-foot memorial tower made primarily of granite. Could this be part of Ilvermorny’s disguise? Suspicious…
The school’s houses are named after creatures from Native New England folklore.
We New Englanders love our legends, and the four creatures Rowling chose to represent the four houses at Ilvermorny are steeped in local lore.
The “Pukwudgie” is a small troll-like creature with roots in Wampanoag and Algonquin legend. Though they’re not commonly known to be the friendliest of creatures, one Pukwudgie makes a redeeming appearance in Rowling’s story, assisting Isolt in her journey through the American wilderness and later saving her from her evil aunt. More recent Pukwudgie sightings have been reported in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest, one of the most paranormal active sites in the Bridgewater Triangle.
According to Algonquin legend, the “Thunderbird” and the “Horned Serpent” control the sky and the underworld. The Thunderbird is often thought of as an ancestor of the human race, able to change the state of the sky with the beating of their wings. The dragon-like Horned Serpents were said to lurk in freshwater rivers and lakes, posing a threat to anyone unlucky enough to cross their paths.
The “Wampus,” a fierce cougar-like magical cat, has roots in mostly Cherokee folklore (we know, that’s pretty far from New England) but the cat’s likely cousin, the Wampahoofus, is a Green Mountain-native. This side-stepping mountain climber had long legs on one side and shorter legs on the other so it could walk along mountain sides with ease. The last of these was said to be seen around Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont.
The school robes aren’t black – they’re blue and cranberry.
Cranberry because one of the founders loved cranberry pie, of course. It’s hard to beat cranberry pie on Thanksgiving (or any time of the year, for that matter), and we can only assume that as a New England resident, Ilvermorny founder James Steward enjoyed his cranberries fresh from local bogs. Check out our Classic Cranberry Pie Recipe, Cranberry Nut Pie Recipe, or Christmas Cranberry Pie Recipe to taste this classic New England dessert for yourself.
If you haven’t already, check out J.K. Rowling’s post about Ilvermorny, the new American Hogwarts, on her site pottermore.com.
Are you as excited as we are to know that the New England is officially a part of the wizarding world of Harry Potter? Wish you could be a student at the American Hogwarts? Let us know!