Gone With Wind Museum
Recently when a friend was in town, we visited the Gone With The Wind Museum in Marietta, Georgia. The museum opened in June 2002 inside a former cotton warehouse and carriage stable that dates back to 1875. Many of the collectibles found inside the museum belong to Dr. Christopher Sullivan, a physician from Akron, Ohio.
Dr. Sullivan read the book, Gone With The Wind, and saw the movie as a child. He enjoyed it so much, he began collecting memorabilia from the movie. His extensive collection has been displayed in various places over the years but it now has a permanent home in Marietta where fans of the book/movie visit from all over the world.
The movie, Gone With The Wind, starring Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, is an “American epic historical romance film” per Wikipedia. The movie premiered in Atlanta at Loew’s Grand in 1939, having been adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name.
I know this is going to sound a little weird since I was born and raised right her in Georgia, but I was never really a fan of the movie. I had heard about it my whole life but didn’t see it until I was grown when it came out in the theaters again. I disliked the character of Scarlett so much, it kind of ruined the movie for me.
I did very much enjoy the museum tour, though. It was great getting to see all the memorabilia and beautiful dresses from the movie and I would recommend this tour to anyone who is even slightly curious.
There could not be a better place for viewing this amazing collection than in this building. The minute you walk through the door, you know this isn’t going to be your typical “museum” tour. During the tour, you’re surrounded by exposed brick, 1875 original wood flooring and wonderful, old rough-hew beams overhead. It really feels like another world, like you’ve been transported back in a Gone With The Wind time machine. The collection definitely makes a bigger impact here than it would inside some sterile, 21st century building.
As we walked through the double doors to enter the building, we saw this on the door leading into the museum.
This now famous image was featured back in the day on the posters advertising the movie. It’s such an iconic scene and poster that it’s often referred to as to as the “flaming embrace” poster. I haven’t seen the movie in ages so I can’t remember exactly what scene it’s from, but it depicts Atlanta burning in the background as Rhett carries Scarlett away to safety. It’s romantic, scary and sad–all at the same time.
Update: It appears this may not be an actual scene from the movie, but a compilation of Rhett and Scarlet superimposed in front of Atlanta in flames, as an advertisement for the movie.
Further inside the museum were t-shirts that were available to purchase. There were many additional items for sale in the small gift shop area toward the end of the tour.
In addition to some of the true collectibles and artifacts from the movie, there were several reproduction dresses. My favorite part of the tour were the dresses and costumes from the movie. This dress is a reproduction of the dress Scarlett was wearing in the first scene where the boys are all fawning over her and begging her to add them to her dance card for an upcoming party.
I’ve read stories about people traveling to Atlanta in search of the real Tara only to find it doesn’t actually exist. The set for Tara was believed to have been built based on some of the homes here in Georgia. I can totally see that because there are a lot of homes in Georgia, especially in some of the smaller towns you pass through when taking the backroads, that look very much like Tara. The Greek Revival style was very popular in Georgia from the 1840s to the 1860s. Per THIS article, it became the first architectural style to appear state-wide across Georgia.
I didn’t remember Tara having attachments or dependents on either side as we see here in the model. It’s been ages since I saw the movie. Do you remember those?
I think my favorite dress in the movie was this one shown here in reproduction. Scarlett wore it in the infamous scene where she’s getting dressed for a barbecue. If you search for “Gone With The Wind” on YouTube, you’ll find lots of scenes featured there, including the one where Scarlett puts on this dress. It’s the scene where we learn that women are never supposed to show their bosom before 3 pm. 🙂
Here’s a little close-up…love the color and pattern!
Here’s another reproduction dress…not sure when this one appears in the movie. Any Gone With The Wind movie buffs know?
There’s an area in the museum devoted to photos and information about Butterfly McQueen who played Prissy in the movie These photos were taken by Joe M. McTyre, a former Atlanta Journal and Constitution photographer. They show the real personality of Butterfly, which is very different from the character she played in the movie.
There were several photos of Margaret Mitchell in the museum, including the one below on the left where she’s carrying a big bottle of champagne. The sign below it says, “Margaret Mitchell was asked to attend the commissioning of the Navy Battleship, The U.S.S. Atlanta on December 24, 1941 at the Navy Shipyard in Kearny, New Jersey. Miss Mitchell is pictured above holding the bottle of champagne with which she later christened the ship.”
The center photo shows Miss Mitchell posing in her home library, behind her a display of the many foreign editions of her book, Gone With The Wind. Many of those books are currently on display in the museum. It was really interesting seeing all the covers for the foreign editions.
In the photo below on the right, Margaret Mitchell is standing beside Captain Samuel P. Jenkins who was badly injured when the U.S.S. was sunk at the Guadalcanal in 1942. The sign says, “Note that Miss Mitchell, a full-time volunteer for the American Red Cross, proudly wears her uniform in the photo as was often the case.”
More memorabilia about the movie…
Several years ago a friend and I went on a home tour in Atlanta that included a tour of the apartment that Margaret Mitchell was living in during the time she was writing, Gone With The Wind. The tour was a bit disappointing, not a lot to see in the apartment, but I did learn a shocking fact on that tour. Did you know that Margaret Mitchell died from injuries she received when she was hit by an off-duty cab driver on Peachtree Street? I had no idea! Apparently she was crossing the road with her husband, John Marsh, when the accident happened. I think they were on their way to see a movie.
I tried to photograph this newspaper so you could read some of it if you wish, but it was either laminated or inside something to protect it, so it was wreaking havoc with my camera. If you click CTRL + a few times on your keyboard, it will enlarge the screen so you can read some of it. Just hit CTRL 0 (zero) once you’re done and your screen will go back to normal.
The real, actual artifacts and costumes from the movie were all behind glass where they were protected. It made it difficult to photograph them, but hope you can see them well enough to get an idea of how they looked and what’s on display in the museum.
These chairs appear in several scenes in the movie. The sign indicated they appeared in the background of Scarlett’s final scene in the movie when she declares that she’ll find some way to get Rhett back. They also appeared as “head” chairs in a dining room in the movie.
This dress, often referred to as the Bengaline Honeymoon Gown, is the actual dress Vivien Leigh wore in the movie. It has been copied many times over the years. ” I read somewhere that the reason it’s such an odd color is because this “ecru” color would appear white on the big screen. Weird, huh?
The sign nearby said, “This gown was worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in MGM’s romantic epic Gone With The Wind. The gown was designed by Walter Plunkett and has reproduced many time for dolls and other memorabilia associate with the film. The hat is an exact reproduction of the original which was design by Mr. John.” The sign goes on to share information about Vivien Leigh’s career ending with this: “Leigh won two Academy Award for Best Actress for Gone With Wind (1939) and as Blanch DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).”
Here’s how the dress looked on Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) in the movie.
I think this may have been worn underneath the dress since it was nearby.
Another actual piece from the movie was this beautiful jacket worn by the character Ashley, played by Leslie Howard. At first I thought it was a smoking jacket but in the picture above the jacket, it appears to be a tuxedo.
This is another well-known dress from the movie. In the movie, Rhett is angry with Scarlett for her behavior toward Ashley and insists she wear this crimson dress to a party she’s invited to at Melanie and Ashley’s home. He tells her to be sure to wear plenty of rouge too so she can play her part. Do you remember that scene? Again, all these scenes can be found on YouTube.
Hope you enjoyed this tour through the Gone With The Wind Museum. I think I may visit it again some day, I know I missed a lot. There was just so much to read and see, too much to capture it all in the hour or so we were there. I definitely recommend visiting it if you’re ever in the Atlanta or Marietta, Georgia area.