I have to admit to being amazed at the number of responses to yesterday’s question regarding whether to take the original pieces of the Tara façade and incorporate them into a new structure or continue to display them as artifacts and build a complete new façade so that folks can see how it was done. As I said yesterday I was not attempting to generate numbers with my question but was seeking to know the “will of the people”. Today I have hundreds of responses and great ideas and they will be tallied and studied as I go forward with the project.
Once again due to the large number of folks who had questions about what the Saving Tara project is and how it’s being done I’m going to try and give a short (yea right) synopsis and time line to explain and (hopefully) answer some of questions that came up yesterday. I plan on doing the same thing on my blog site which has now been linked to savingtara.com . I hope you all will become a part of that site as I will be posting a calendar of Tara façade tour dates and times, links to you tube, etc. And to be honest, if I get as large a crowd as I did yesterday I could sell advertisement on the site which would help pay for the restoration, so consider becoming a part of the Saving Tara Blog.
First of all let me explain that I am a professional storyteller and historian (or is that historian and storyteller?) who has been providing tours and presentations on the American Civil War and Gone With the Wind for about 20+ years now…and that is how I make a living (such as it is). I was the first (and only) one to document the true stories in Gone with the Wind and create a tour from it. The GWTW Tour in Jonesboro was created by me and when you take the tour from the Road to Tara Museum you even hear my voice telling the stories of the real Prissy, Mellie and the green velvet drapes. My first book, Lost in Yesterday details the true stories and now my second book, The Official Guide to the Saving Tara Project documents the primary work of the restoration and presentation of the Tara façade. And that is why I am so passionate about teaching my visitors more than just the façade and explaining the connection to the Fitzgerald House and the Crawford Talmadge Plantation as well as the Battle of Jonesboro.
The photos today take the Tara façade from Hollywood to Lovejoy. The first shot is Tara on Selznicks lot in Hollywood. The second shot (also from yesterday) is the Tara façade just before it was dismantled by orders of Desi Arnaz who then owned the lot. The façade was taken by Mr. Julian Foster to Atlanta to be the center of a museum but the plan failed. The façade was stored in a barn north of Atlanta, Georgia and sat there until Betty Talmadge bought it. She brought it to her home on the Lovejoy Plantation (the 1835 Crawford Talmadge House, which was known as 12 Oaks) which is the third photo and began working to get it turned into a museum center piece. Over the years she brokered deals with many sites around metro Atlanta and always ended up having to retake possession of the Tara façade. The last photo of the four is of the dairy barn where the Tara façade is now being restored. There is an in depth time line produced by Tommy H. Jones on his site tomitronics.com (The Razing of Tara) as Tommy was hired by Betty Talmadge to catalogue all the pieces and to direct the restoration of Tara front door which is presently on loan to the Margaret Mitchell House (yes, it is still owned by the Talmadges).
The Tara façade has been on the Talmadge property since the 1980’s (along with the Fitzgerald House) and I do not see that changing at any point. It is presently being restored in a dairy barn on the property which cannot be seen from the street as the whole property (2500 acres) is enclosed with a 15 foot high fence and a security gate. No one is allowed to view the Tara façade unless part of the volunteers (on scheduled work days) who are lovingly putting it back together or those small groups who take the Tara façade tour, so no, you can’t just drive by and see it from the road.
Many have given their suggestions, their encouragement and their prayers and all are appreciated. I understand that all will not be able to come to Lovejoy and see the grand old lady in person but by your telling others, purchasing the book and becoming a member of the blog site you are helping more than you can imagine. You kind participation yesterday brought 50,000 to the page and raised eyebrows all over the world. Tara still has a draw to those who seek the succor of a place, a home and a refuge. And I promise that as long as God allows me to do the job, I will continue to work to bring the Tara façade to those of you who obviously long to see her up close. And for those who won’t be able to make the trip, I have plans for a lot more video to give you the opportunity to see and participate in the work ahead.
Thank you all for your kindness.
"I’ll be waiting for you up at the gate"….Peter