This morning’s gift is another look at the construction of Tara’s “brick walls”. When Tara was created on the back lot of Selznick Studios it was to be a three sided manse that stood tall like a Greek Temple and constructed of the distinct red clay brick from the banks of the Flint River in the area south of Atlanta Georgia, U.S. A. But it also had to be done with a concern for speed of construction, low cost and the probability that one day Tara would need to be disassembled so that the next project could take over her space on the lot.
So the construction of Tara (remember, just three sides) was done using 2×4 stud walls, covered with plywood veneer, that was then covered with brick,….but not just regular, run of the mill brick but a “movie brick” that was thin, lightweight and relatively cheap to construct. The bricks that covered Tara’s walls were called “staff” and they appeared to be the size of adobe clay tile but they were created in sheets which were then attached to the plywood exterior walls. Of course, once these walls were covered in the thin bricks, windows and doors were secured and it all received a paint job from the art department, there was no way to tell the “movie brick” walls from the real brick columns that held up Tara’s front porch.
When Tara was disassembled in 1959, many of the brick panels had long ago fallen to the ground and so the photos of Tara just before its removal show portions of the outer walls with plywood only (and some of the plywood showing “ghosts” of the former tile). So considering the shape of the 2×4 stud walls and the plywood veneer it is understandable that the once the windows, doors, side porches and even the front porch ceiling were removed and placed on the trucks, the old walls of Tara would be push down and burned in a big pile there on the lot…and that is what was done. The brick columns were buried on site.
I have yet to hear of one who claims to have a brick from the beloved Tara’s walls. After the façade was dismantled the crew on set immediately destroyed the remaining veneer walls and studs so that they could begin constructing the set of Hogan’s Heroes. There was no special service or fanfare and no dignitaries came to watch the destruction. So since 1959 the “movie brick” walls have been lost to history and little considered by the “Gone with the Wind Experts” that seem to spend a lot of time rehashing the same old tired information…..until now.
Today I am posting photos of the Tara bricks that were still attached to the façade as it sat in the Talmadge family barn for over twenty years. These few bricks were discovered by me as I looked over the ceiling of Tara at the point where it attached to the front walls of the façade. They were under some of the large crown molding on the roof line, looking as they did when they were created and placed on the façade in 1938.
Here is explanation of staff and its use…..https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staff_(building_material)
In the photos you can see the clay like substance and the straw and possible horse hair that was used as filler. I have included this link to a description of “staff” how it was created and used in Hollywood during Tara’s filming. My friend, the late Fred Crane (Brent Tarleton in GWTW) used to describe Tara’s walls as looking like paper mache and while it was a created brick, there was a little bit more substance to it.
So I hope you enjoy this little Christmas gift of photos of Tara bricks and the accompanying article regarding its creation. I do want you al to know the truth of Gone with the Wind and its connection to the historical record and the true story of Tara and how it was constructed, filmed and then disamtled and brought to Georgia. I hope you all get a chance to take my GWTW Tour of Jonesboro and learn the true stories from Margarets book and you take the time to come and see Tara for there is no other place in the world like it,….and there is no other person to take you on that tour than your truly.
Merry Christmas! And God bless you all.
I’ll be looking for you up at the gate.