Ever since Gone with the Wind came out in book form in 1936, people have roamed the back roads of Georgia asking any stranger who would stop and hear their plea…. “where is Tara”. For years the local tourism office would tell those hapless wanderers that, “it was only in Margaret’s imagination”, but according to the statements and writings of Margaret Mitchell, the model for Tara was her great grandparents (Fitzgerald’s) plantation. It was the home of the richest plantation owner in Clayton County, Phillip Fitzgerald and his wife Mrs. Eleanor (Ms. Ellen) and their daughters. It was the old farm house that Margaret knew as “Rural Home” and the place she said she imagined as her Tara.
Although moved from its original site and dismantled, Rural Home still exists and is stored in the same barn with the Tara facade that was used as the O’Hara’s home as Margaret’s beloved book became David O. Selznick’s beloved movie. It is my hope that soon we can start putting together some of the hand hewn beams of the Fitzgerald’s house so that the “book Tara” can be displayed alongside “the movie Tara”.
That’s my plan, and I hope you’ll help by letting others know that Tara DID exist….in the life (and imagination) of Margaret Mitchell and in the brilliance of David O. Selznick…and continues to exist as both are being restored in a barn a few miles from where Margaret’s Rural Home originally stood.