When Desi Arnaz gave the OK for Tara to be dismantled and shipped to its new home in Atlanta, Georgia in 1959, the pieces that made the trip were the doors, windows, side porches and even the ceiling from Tara’s from porch. The “brick walls” of Tara were made with 2×4’s covered in plywood that was covered in clay tile made to look like brick and because of the impossibility of dismantling those pieces they were piled up and burned where they had once stood. The 25 foot front columns of Tara and the brick front porch (both made of real brick) were simply buried on the site.
When the Tara Museum project failed after Tara’s arrival in Atlanta in 1960 it was stored in a north Georgia barn (yes, I have been to the spot) for twenty years before Betty Talmadge bought it all in 1983 and moved it to her home at Lovejoy Plantation. Immediately Betty began contacting those who might be interested in building a museum to house this treasure and also to have the pieces documented, inventoried and appraised. Tom Jones (see tomitronics.com…razing gone with the wind) was instrumental in both the documentation and inventory of the Tara façade and the restoration of Tara’s front doorway so that it could be used for the 1989 anniversary display at the Atlanta History Center.
At the time of the restoration it was found that many of the pieces of the doorway had to be replicated as they were in such bad shape so today a number of the original pieces of Tara’s doorway are stored in the dairy barn along with the rest of the Tara façade. During the doorways restoration studies were conducted on the paint and a portion of the original paint was left intact to verify the provenance if it was ever questioned. The doorway was reassembled in a way that allows it to be disassembled if it needs to be shipped for display somewhere else. Today it is on temporary display at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta (as it is still the exclusive property of the Talmadge family).
Today’s photo is of Tara’s front doorway as it was being restored at the Atlanta History Center. The gentleman in the doorway is the late Franklin Garrett, Atlanta Historian and friend of Margaret Mitchell. Mr. Garrett was a supporter of the display of the Tara façade and even recommended setting up a tour of the sites associated with it (which I am proud to say I created with my Gone with the Wind Tour and I think would make my friend Franklin very happy to know).
While there is much more to do to continue the work of preservation and presentation of the Tara façade and the stories associated with it we can only move forward one step at a time and seek out those who will stand up and fight the good fight with us. Keep telling the stories, sharing the history, buying copies of the Official Guide to the Saving Tara Project and taking the tours (bring at least 10 friends) and soon we will see the rest of the Tara façade standing proud to welcome all who seek to Tara…and home.