Seventy five years ago, the epic film “Gone With The Wind” hit movie theaters nationwide and it all began in a tiny apartment just off Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta. That apartment and the house itself have been lov-ingly preserved and restored as a shrine to the book, film and its author in the Margaret Mitchell House Museum. I recently made a visit to this Atlanta landmark.
Owned and operated by the highly professional staff of the Atlanta History Center, the Margaret Mitchell House is a delightful step back in time. The original Sheehan family home at Peachtree and 10th streets is a help-ful reminder of the grand homes which once lined Atlanta’s most famous thoroughfare. About 100 years ago, however, the home was turned into apartments, and the tiny downstairs apartment facing Crescent Avenue was home to the newlywed Margaret Mitchell Marsh and the birthplace of her novel set in 19th century Atlanta.
The Marsh apartment takes up only a small space in the basement level of this large late Victorian house. The main floor is now a gallery and has the “Stars Fall On Atlanta” exhibit, showcasing articles and photographs con-cerning the December 1939 movie premiere in Atlanta. Most interesting are the videos about the three days of activities surrounding the premiere. Seeing all the crowds that turned out helps you realize what a huge event this really was. You can also see correspondence from Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel who didn’t attend because of vicious Jim Crow Laws although it is noted that the young Martin Luther King Jr. sang in a choir at the Junior League Ball for the event.
The apartment is part of a guided tour with excellent guides who can make the three little rooms come alive for visitors. An exhibit showing “Peggy” Mitchell’s life before GWTW, when she was a local newspaper writer, adds interest, especially the image of her interviewing silent screen legend Rudolph Valentino. The apartment is completely furnished and a great opportunity to get photographs of the writing site for the city’s most famous au-thor. The Museum Shop is filled with nice souvenirs as well as excellent books relating to the film and its time period. The Museum also hosts many book signings and lectures throughout the year.
The Margaret Mitchell House Museum is located at 979 Crescent Ave. (Just off 10th Street at Peachtree and Peachtree Place) and is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5:30 p.m. It is free to At-lanta History Center members and admission for others is $13 (adults), $10 (senior/student) and $8.50 (children, 4-12). There is free parking in the small lot across Crescent Avenue. For more information, call 404-249-7015 or see www.atlantahistorycenter.com.