My Pilgrimage to “Gone With the Wind” Mecca

There are three literary pilgrimages that are required of every romance loving, third wave feminist, book obsessed woman: Jane Austen’s home in Chawton, England, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home in Prince Edward Island and Margaret Mitchell’s home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Now, I’m slightly infatuated with Gone with the Wind. I started watching the film when I was eight years old. I’ve seen it 28 times: every second of the 238 minutes. I checked the book out from the adult section of the local library when I was 10 (with my mother’s permission of course). I have a room in my home dedicated to the movie and book. It’s the Gone with the Wind room pinned with Scarlett Barbie dolls, collector plates, numbered art, and of course green velvet curtains.

Even if you don’t know Scarlett O’Hara’s first name (It’s Katie, by the way) or couldn’t care less if Rhett gives a damn or not, seeing Margaret Mitchell’s home (apartment) in Atlanta, Georgia is an absolute must see for a visit to Atlanta.

Margaret Mitchell’s Home

990 Peachtree Street

Atlanta, GA 30309-1366

Phone 404.249.7015

Web: http://www.margaretmitchellhouse.com/

In the urban sprawl of the high rise city of Atlanta, the house seems out of place. But thank goodness it’s still standing. Arsonists have tried to burn it down twice! Margaret Mitchell never liked it much either. She called her apartment, “the dump.” But preservationists have done a magnificent job of recreating the apartment.
The museum focuses on the house. Guests used to start at the visitor’s center and then shuffled to the house, but that changed a few years ago. Now guests enter the house on Crescent Ave, like Mitchell would have, and go immediately to view Mitchell’s apartment for a guided tour. You’ll see the apartment almost like it was when Mitchell lived there. Be aware, very few things in the apartment are original. However, even being the same the room where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind is a rush for an enthusiast like me.

Next you’ll learn about Mitchell’s life, her newspaper career, philanthropy efforts and most of all her spunk. I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know a lot about Mitchell before I visited the museum. She was part of Atlanta’s affluent society, a serious beau died in World War I, and her mother died during the flu epidemic while Mitchell was returning from college (GWTW enthusiasts will recognize the similarities of Scarlett not being there for her mother’s death as well). Mitchell was a strong writer, and began working at the Atlanta Journal (something society women did not do). In an industry dominated by men, the petite Mitchell was one of the first female reporters to earn her way from the society columns to hard news reporting. But it was a sprained ankle that changed her life and the world. Her second husband John Marsh got tired of lugging books back and forth to the library while Mitchell was recovering and bought her typewriter and encouraged her to write a book. And Scarlett (although she was named Patsy during writing) was born.
My favorite part of the museum is the Making of a Film Legend: Gone with the Wind exhibit. The museum is full of artifacts from the movie, including Tara’s doorway from the movie set and the giant of painting of Scarlett in the blue dress that Rhett throws his drink at during the movie. There are also original costume sketches from the film. The best part of the exhibit is you can read copies of the movie script and act it out. It’s a literary pilgrim’s dream come true.

Whether you are in Atlanta for the day on a long layover, a couple of days on businesses or leisure see the site which created a worldwide sensation: The Margaret Mitchell House.

Also check out the new PBS documentary: Margaret Mitchell-American Rebel.

 

 

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