This morning as I prepared to post a little missive for the Saving Tara site, it hit me that many folks have little idea of what is left of the Tara set from Gone with the Wind. They may know it exists and that I created and am the driving force behind the project to preserve and present the most iconic movie set of all time (Tara) but have no idea if anything more than the front doorway is left of the grand southern manse. So, this morning let me give you a short inventory of the pieces and the part they played in Gone with the Wind.
- The front doorway of Tara. Today that doorway is on temporary loan to the Margaret Mitchell House for it is still the property of the Talmadge family (the folks who own the rest of the façade and the Fitzgerald House). The front doorway was in horrible shape when Mrs. Betty Talmadge paid to have it restored and then loaned to the Atlanta History Center, but today it looks as it did on set when the movie was filmed (note there is a small section of the door that retains its original paint to prove its provenance).
- The tall front windows of Tara’s front porch. The Tall windows were the first pieces I reassembled after the initial work of cleaning the barn was done (than you volunteers). The window presently on display in the barn is no doubt the one which stood behind Scarlett and the Tarleton Twins in the opening scenes. Every time I walk by that window I think of my friend Fred Crane who spoke the first words of the movie, …. although he had never acted professionally prior to that day.
- The cathedral window that stood behind Scarlett as she faced the Yankee soldier on the stairs can be found standing in the dairy barn on the Talmadge property.
- The side porch of Tara, where the soldiers were fed, where Mellie sat with her baby and heard of Ashley’s capture and the side porch rail where Scarlett heard Mellie’s news of Ashley. The entire side porch is there although only a portion has been reassembled due to the size of it all. The porch columns, hand rails and steps are there as are ceiling panels, the side door and even the cedar shake roof.
- A strange little window that I refer to as “Prissy’s window” is standing tall in the barn after I placed it in a “flat” (an upright 2×4 frame that allows it to stand). The window was part of the side porch and stood behind Prissy, Pork and Mammy as they cut watermelon on a table located at the top of the side porch stairs. The window and its bead board shutters are in excellent condition and even the handmade hinges are there to examine.
- The tall shutters that framed the windows in Tara. They are seen in the interior shots and also after the war when many of the windows have frames missing. The original shutters still retain a small amount of the blueish gray paint from the set. A retired Hollywood Director explained that the ease of removing the inner shutters from Tara’s facade allowed them to be removed and brought on set for the interior scenes so that duplicates would not have to be made (the cathedral window was also removed in the same way). Therefore the “drapery scene” shutters still survive today on the Talmadge property.
- The assorted windows and doors of Tara. Today, all of the windows and doors that were mounted on the Tara façade are accounted for (along with a couple which I believe were used in western scenes shot nearby and were mistakenly shipped with the façade from Hollywood). They stand ready to be mounted on a new “brick wall” when the larger space becomes available.
- The final piece I will mention is Tara’s front porch roofline. When we first began the project we had to constantly work around a huge piece of Tara that was stacked upside down. It was not until I made the decision to call for a special “all hands on deck” work day to move this piece to a more suitable spot in the barn (along the inside wall) that it was discovered to be the front porch roofline of Tara. And as we struggled to move the piece that was close to 20 feet long and over 3 feet square (a lot of weight) my wife (Sharon) discovered the unpainted squares that marked the location (and size) of the real brick columns that had heled the large porch in place. Note: this is where I found the remaining faux bricks of the Tara façade
I’ll be looking for you up at the gate.