Saturday, November 24, 2007

Forget Atlanta, Tara's Ghosts Live Here.

Jefferson, Texas is 650 miles away from Atlanta, Georgia. But Margaret Mitchell's epic novel finds no better recognition than at the Scarlett O'Hardy Gone With The Wind Museum.

That's right -- O'Hardy, not O'Hara, the famed last name of the notorious Scarlett.

The name comes from Bobbie Hardy, one of the biggest fans you'll ever meet. She's collected GWTW related merchandise for decades, and here she can share her fandom with the world.

Bonnie and her husband Randy lived in Houston, but came to Jefferson in the '90s. Here, amongst the beautiful restored Victorian mansions of the historic riverport, the idea for a suitable home for Hardy's collection took root.

Hence the museum. Here you can find almost everything you might imagine related to the book, the movie, the author, and the actors involved. Posters in dozens of languages line the walls, while more than 100 different editions of the books nestle in secure cases. Every sort of
memoriabilia is housed here, in a building that one housed Jefferson High School's agricultural department.

One of the most famous artifacts here is a replica of Scarlett's dress made from the green drapes... the Walter Plunkett designed costume may be the most famous in history. Here you can view the details up close... life size and well-preserved.

In a separate room, you can find a reproduction of the scarlett dress Scarlett wore to Ashley's birthday party, amidst foreign movie posters and reviews. Everything is right in front of you, unobscured and available for anyone to see.

But there's more. Case after case lines the walls and shares the interior of the building, showing off magazines and pamphlets, dolls and doilies, chocolate boxes and board games. A wide collection of autographed pictures line walls and crowd case-tops, with sometimes cryptic messages.

The book is nearly seven decades old, but its popularity has never waned. Bobbie shares all sorts of great facts about the story -- the book that's never gone out of print, the fates of the actors, her chance encounters with those involved with the project.

Unfortunately, Bobbie no longer shares these dreams with her husband. Randy Hardy passed away a few years ago, but not before seeing his wife realize this dream.

And what a dream. A large Christmas tree adorned with GWTW ornaments and dolls greets visitors. And an
impressive dollhouse that represents the three homes from the story boasts figurines in the settings we remember them in -- Bonnie Blue in her elaborate room at the Atlanta mansion, the Great Hall from Twelve Oaks, and Scarlett's bedroom at Tara. All encased in an exterior designed from the front of Twelve Oaks.

A special case also showcases Margaret Mitchell's own work -- including her own typewriter and letters she wrote to others. There's even a Christmas card she sent out one year.

Care to take a bit of the memory with you? Bonnie has lots of items to purchase, including lunch boxes, post cards, and coffee mugs. And she gladly shares something you'll find all over Jefferson -- soft individualy-wrapped peppermints, a hallmark of the area.

Something new, yet old but still very exciting -- is the bed and breakfast inspired by the museum. Now you can stay at Scarlett O'Hardy's, in a room named for one of the characters from the book. The four large rooms with their on-suite baths sprawl on the second floor of the large home next to the museum. It's also on the Candlelight Tour of Homes, a great chance to see the neat holiday decorations in the neo-period home.

The Scarlett O'Hardy Gone With The Wind Museum is open Thurday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, or by appointment. But call first -- sometimes that schedule is amended (especially if you'd like to see it at another time -- Bonnie loves to show off her collectibles!). Call (903) 665-1939. Admission is $3 or $1 for kids under 12. Or check out the website.

UPDATE 1/5/17. I came back to update the photography for this piece (just lightening, but yes, still the original 2007 photos). and read on Google that it's closed. However, photographs on the Facebook page show it's quite clearly open.

I've also added more photos from the trip.

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