When the late Betty Talmadge bought the Tara façade from Julian Foster of Atlanta in 1980 and brought it home to her beloved Lovejoy Plantation she had few options for storage of the movie set. At that time storing the dairy barn 100 yards away from her back door seemed the best location and so she and her crew stored the windows, doors and side porches of Tara on the concrete floor of the 30 year old dairy barn that could be seen from her side porch window. And there it sat as she contacted group after group trying to find a permanent spot for a museum in and around the metro Atlanta area.
It wasn’t Mrs. Betty’s plan to leave it in the barn forever, in 1989 she agreed to pay for the restoration of the massive front doorway and put it on display at the Atlanta History Center to celebrate the movies 50th anniversary. After the History Center dismantled their Gone with the Wind display the front doorway was shipped back to Lovejoy to be the center piece of a party that included Ted Turner and Jane Fonda. After that the doorway was loaned to the Margaret Mitchell House where it has remained on temporary display (it is still the sole property of the Talmadge family).
Since I began the Saving Tara Project almost two years ago I have sought help in finding a better building to display this most iconic of movie houses but at present nothing has come thru. I want to keep it on the property in Lovejoy because all those who have been on the tour can attest to the amazing connections between the Tara façade, the Lovejoy Plantation and of course the Fitzgerald House (Margaret Mitchells family home and her model for Tara in her book) and how the three stories blend together to “tell the tale”. Tara has “lived” on the Talmadge property for a longer period of time than it did on the Hollywood backlot (20 years on the lot, 20 years in Fosters barn and now 35+ years at Lovejoy) and since the space on the lot has long since been turned into an industrial park, Tara’s home should forever be on the “red clay” of Lovejoy, Georgia!
Over the next few days I will post the list of the next scheduled individual tours, so that more of Tara’s fans can come to Lovejoy and see her in person. Please be aware that if you can get together a group of at least fifteen I will schedule a time of your choosing during the week or weekend. In fact the tour of the Tara façade can be combined with my Gone with the Wind Tour of Jonesboro and the surrounding area if your group is so inclined. Heck, plan a holiday outing, bring the wine (or hot chocolate) and lets spend some time talking and touring Tara.
The book, The Official Guide to the Saving Tara Project and my first book, Lost In Yesterday (both
available here) is still selling well and the proceeds go a long way toward to continuing the work or preserving and presenting the most famous movie house of all time, Tara.
I’ll be looking for you up at the gate.