Thursday, July 24, 2014

Visiting the Road to Tara Museum

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

In June, I was able to visit and tour the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Georgia.  Jonesboro is south of Atlanta and the county seat of Clayton County.  Since the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, Jonesboro and Clayton have been billed as the “Home of Gone With The Wind.”  Located in Jonesboro’s 1867 Historic Train Depot, the museum is dedicated to Mitchell’s book and the 1939 classic film.  Why Jonesboro?  Margaret Mitchell spent her childhood summers at her grandparents’ home in the area and look closely at the movie and you will see a check listing the bank of Clayton County. 

Within the museum are personal items that belonged Mitchell like her china.  However, much of the museum is dedicated to the GWTW.  There are a number of detailed and accurate reproductions of the famous costumes worn by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Ann Rutherford (Careen O’Hara), and Cammie King Conlon (Bonnie Blue Butler).  There are also a large number of foreign translations of the GWTW book and movie posters.

Many of the items in the museum belonged to local historian and collector, Herb Bridges, who passed away in 2013.  He had one of the largest private collections of GWTW memorabilia.  During his life, he would be happy to attend and speak at many events relating to GWTW.  He also published a book on his collection.  The museum does pay tribute to Bridges.

Although the museum is primarily dedicated to GWTW, there are also exhibits relating to the Civil War.  The Battle of Jonesboro was one of the last battles that took place as part of the Battle of Atlanta on Sherman’s March to the Sea.  As such, Jonesboro doesn’t just have a strong GWTW tie, but is also part of America’s Civil War past.  Exhibits dedicated to the Civil War include an authentic “Sherman’s necktie.” Simply put, this was a section of rail twisted into a loop so it would be useless.  After Sherman’s March, the South was full of these twisted chunks of rail.  Further, the Depot was built for the cotton industry—weighing and then shipping the cotton to the industrial north.  The Depot still has the original Fairbank Scale which was used to weigh the cotton.

The museum is self guided but there are sound stations throughout the museum.  At the stations you will hear the voice of Fred Crane, the actor who played Brent Tarleton in the movie.  Listening to him you will hear several personal stories including being on the movie set and attending the grand premiere at the Loew’s Theater in Atlanta.

If you are a fan of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind or are a Civil War history buff, we recommend taking a tour of the Road to Tara Museum. 

For more information: Road to Tara Museum


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