“Frankly, my dear…” Who doesn’t know the ending to this infamous phrase? It was time for this Georgia girl to unite with fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved books with the variety of hands-on experiences along the state’s first and only designated Gone With the Wind Trail.
Stop one brought me back in time through the sights and sounds of the Civil War and Reconstruction, narrated by Scarlett O’Hara and her dashing romancer, Rhett Butler, at Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, a mainstay since April 2003. Courtesy of Dr. Sullivan, on display is an extensive collection of memorabilia sure to delight and intrigue any Gone With the Wind fan, from novice to aficionado.
Next on the agenda: touring the Margaret Mitchell House (a small apartment Margaret called “the dump”) where I traced the footsteps of the talented author and delved deeper into the birthplace of Gone With the Wind. Also at “the dump,” I watched a Gone With the Wind movie exhibition and display showcasing the life and times of one of Atlanta’s most famous authors.
After the Mitchell House, the Trail directed me to The Atlanta- Fulton Public Library. With one of the most extensive collections of Margaret Mitchell’s photographs, books and personal items, the Central Library’s Special Collection Department is a must-see destination for all lovers of literature and Margaret Mitchell. The collection includes Mitchell’s personal books used for her research, more than 400 personal photographs, motion picture stills of the film, her 1937 Pulitzer Prize, her Remington typewriter and more.
Next, I headed to Mitchell’s final resting place, Oakland Cemetery. Historic Oakland, a Victorian garden cemetery, is also a magnificent sculpture garden, botanical garden, flourishing wildlife habitat, public park and picturesque setting for quiet reflection. Amidst the beauty of a blue-skied Atlanta autumn day, visit the gravesites of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and roam thoughtfully among thousands of other Atlanta notables and pioneers.
My final stop on the Trail landed me in Jonesboro, the official home of Gone With the Wind just 15 miles south of Atlanta, at the Road to Tara Museum, where visitors can relive Rhett and Scarlett’s sweeping romance by enjoying original movie props and wardrobe items, a foreign edition library, original manuscripts, costume reproductions, an extensive photo gallery, and a collectible plate and doll collection. The antebellum years and the Civil War make their presence felt through such exhibits as an authentic “Sherman’s necktie” (a section of rail twisted into a loop so as to be useless to a railroad company); and the depot’s original Fairbank Scale, used to weigh cargo, specifically cotton.
And because “tomorrow is another day,” the journey into Gone With the Wind and the Civil War can continue by exploring the Trail’s “Rhett Also Recommends” stops, including the: Atlanta History Center, Atlanta Cyclorama, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield and Stately Oaks Plantation.
If you go:
Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square – Admission: $7 adults, $6 seniors and students, $5 groups of 15 or more. 18 Whitlock Avenue, Marietta, GA 30064; 770-794-5576; www.GWTWMarietta.com. Group Tour Contact: Connie Sutherland; 770-794-5145; CSutherland@MariettaGA.gov
Margaret Mitchell House – Admission: $13 adults, $10 seniors and students, $8.50 youth 4-12. 990 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309; 404-249-7015; www.MargaretMitchellHouse.com. Group Tour Contact: 404-814-4031 ; MMHGroupTours@AtlantaHistoryCenter.com
Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System – Admission: Free. One Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta, GA 30303; 404-730-1700; www.AFPLS.org. Group Tour Contact: Kelly Robinson Vann; 404-730-1865;
Oakland Cemetery – Admission: free. Guided walking tours: $10 adults, $5 students and seniors 65 and older. 248 Oakland Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30312; 404-688-2107; www.OaklandCemetery.com
Road to Tara Museum – Admission: $7 adults, $6 seniors and children. 104 North Main Street, Jonesboro, GA 30236; 770-478-4800; VisitScarlett.com/RoadToTaraMuseum.html. Group Tour Contact: Beth Bailey;
Mom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.