Margaret Mitchell House
The first port of call for Gone With The Wind fans, thanks to its central location in midtown, the ground floor of this redbrick house is a museum that includes the apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote most of her novel. Mitchell and her second husband, John Marsh, occupied one of 10 apartments crammed into the Tudor-revival building she nicknamed The Dump. The apartment’s two small rooms plus a galley kitchen and bathroom look much as they would have when Mitchell lived there between 1925 and 1932. Further rooms have displays of photographs of Mitchell and there is a half-hourly guided tour, which talks you through her childhood and how she bluffed her way into journalism.
• 990 Peachtree Street, +1 404 249 7015, margaretmitchellhouse.com. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm, Sun midday-5.30pm, adult $13, concs $10, four-12 years $8.50
Georgian Terrace Hotel
Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland all stayed at the hotel while attending the Gone With The Wind premiere, held at Loew’s Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street, which burned down in 1978, and the after-gala in its Grand Ballroom. The movie’s black cast members could not attend because of Georgia’s segregation laws. In 1921, long before she wrote the novel, a young Margaret Mitchell attended a French-themed party at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, scandalising onlookers – Scarlett style – by performing a risque dance with a male partner. In the now-renovated hotel lobby Mitchell, in 1935, hesitantly handed over the original manuscript of her one and only novel to her future editor.
• 659 Peachtree Street NE, +1 866 845 7551, thegeorgianterrace.com. Doubles from $127 a night
Atlanta-Fulton Central Library
The Atlanta-Fulton Central Library, built in 1980, replaced the original Carnegie Library, which Mitchell’s father co-founded. Her Remington typewriter is now on display in the library along with photos and artefacts including her 1937 Pulitzer prize for Gone With The Wind. Some of the reference books Mitchell used to fact-check her novel form part of the library’s small fifth-floor special collection.
• One Margaret Mitchell Square, afpls.org/central-hq. Open Mon-Thu 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9pm-6pm, Sun 2pm-6pm, free
In 1949, Mitchell was killed by a speeding car on Peachtree Street while on her way to the movies with her husband, John Marsh. She was buried at Oakland Cemetery, a historic oasis at the highest point of the city. Atlanta’s modern skyline is visible beyond the walls of this beautifully kept 48-acre space that contains more than 6,900 Confederate graves from the American civil war and a separate African-American section dating from the days of slavery and segregation. One of the most photogenic tombs is the Austell mausoleum, where General Alfred Austell, founder of the Atlanta National Bank is buried. As the camera peers over Scarlett O’Hara’s shoulder in the movie, his name appears on the cheque that she signs to the tax collector to save Tara.
• 248 Oakland Avenue SE, oaklandcemetery.com. Open dawn to dusk, free
When in town in for the 1939 premiere of Gone With The Wind, Clark Gable visited the Cyclorama, a 360-degree panorama depicting the Battle of Atlanta. Completed in 1887, it was once the world’s largest oil painting. The movie star remarked that the only way the painting could be improved was if he was in it. And, so the story goes, his face was added to one of the figures in the foreground. Go and spot his image in this quirky feature of the Civil War Museum in Grant Park, a mile south of Oakland Cemetery.
• 800 Cherokee Avenue SE, +1 404 658 7625, atlantacyclorama.org. Open Tue-Sat 9.15am-4.30pm, adults $10, seniors and four-12s $8
Gone With The Wind Museum
To go deeper into the Gone With The Wind story, take a 30-minute drive north-west of Atlanta to the Gone With The Wind Museum on historic Marietta Square. The museum, an old warehouse where freight trains thunder past, displays Scarlett’s honeymoon gown and original promotional material for the film. Other exhibits include the personal script that belonged to Ona Munson, who played Rhett Butler’s best pal, brothel keeper Belle Watling. Although the movie’s Hattie McDaniel became the first black actor to win an Oscar, for her performance as Mammy, the movie and the book have been criticised for their poor representations of African Americans. A small educational display makes a go of tackling this issue.
• 18 Whitlock Avenue, Marietta, +1 770 794 5576, gwtwmarietta.com. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, adult $7, concs $6
The Stately Oaks mansion in Jonesboro is as close to Tara as you can get now that Mitchell’s ancestral home, the Fitzgerald mansion, is no more. At Stately Oaks, guides in period costume give a detailed hourly tour of the Greek-revival home and its exquisite locally made 19th-century furniture. Ask nicely and they’ll rate the southern accents of the three leading British actors in Gone With The Wind. Several outbuildings include a sharecropper’s cabin, an old schoolhouse and a country store selling local goods and Gone With The Wind whatnots.
• 100 Carriage Lane, Jonesboro, +1 770 473 0197, historicaljonesboro.org. Open Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, adult $12, five-11s $6
Road to Tara Museum
Gone With The Wind fans in search of Tara, the O’Hara plantation house, will need to travel 30 minutes south of Atlanta to the “Official Home of Gone With The Wind”, Clayton County, where Margaret Mitchell set much of the novel. The Road to Tara Museum, in an old train depot in Jonesboro, is filled with Gone With The Wind memorabilia including the original cotton pantalettes from the movie, the ones Mammy struggles to lace Scarlett into. A daily 1pm bus tour (adults $24.95, kids $13.95) takes in several locations related to Jonesboro’s civil war history, accompanied by stories and events about the county and Mitchell’s relations that neatly tie in with Gone with the Wind plots and characters.
• 104 North Main Street, Jonesboro, +1 770 478 4800, visitscarlett.com/roadtotaramuseum. Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-4pm, adult $7, concs $6
If, like Scarlett, you have a taste for the finer things in life, treat yourself to a stay in an authentic antebellum mansion. Plump for the one Margaret Mitchell used as the inspiration for Ashley Wilkes’s home in the movie. Built in 1836, it’s an impressive house fronted by several pillars. It was opened to the public in 2012 as a luxury B&B with gardens and an outdoor pool. A 45-minute drive east of Atlanta in Covington, the house has been tastefully renovated and named after the Wilkes mansion. There’s even a Frankly Scarlett suite.
• 2176 Monticello Street SW, Covington, +1 770 385 4005, thetwelveoaks.com. Doubles from $189, including southern breakfast
Blue Willow Inn
Long before it became a southern institution serving fried chicken, collard greens and “Champagne of the South” (that’s sweet tea to non-locals), Blue Willow Inn, a turn-of-the-century neoclassical mansion, was the home of the Upshaw family. Margaret Mitchell visited many times while courting Redd Upshaw, her first husband and the inspiration for Rhett Butler. It’s well worth the 45-minute drive east of Atlanta to The Blue Willow in the small town of Social Circle. General Sherman’s March to the Sea, mentioned in Gone With The Wind, passed through in November 1864. It’s now a restaurant with a buffet deal for lovers of southern food. Frankly, give a damn and make the journey!
• 294 North Cherokee Road, Social Circle, +1 770 464 2131, bluewillowinn.com. Open Mon 11am-2.30pm, Tue-Sat 11am-2.30pm and 5pm-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm, buffet from $15
Atlanta Movie Tours’ new three-hour bus tours with costumed guides, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, begin in April, covering several locations in town plus vouchers for the museums in Marietta and Jonesboro.
• +1 855 255 3456, atlantamovietours.com, $65
Lee Howard is a British journalist and photographer, locating ‘the weird and wonderful of the Deep South’ for WayInto.com
• For more information on holidays in the USA, visit DiscoverAmerica.com
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