When I first saw Gone with the Wind as a teenager, I was captivated. There was romance! Comedy! Tragedy! History! What was not to love about all that? Not to mention the amazing houses in it.
So I thought it would be fun to look back at the classic 1939 movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable and revisit some of the amazing sets, starting with the O’Hara family’s plantation known as Tara.
The Houses in “Gone With the Wind”
Tara: The O’Hara Family Plantation in Georgia
The movie was actually filmed in California, nowhere near the South.
Tara was built on the back lot of Selznick International Studios in Culver City (Culver Studios).
It was an exterior only. The interiors were on a separate soundstage.
I’ve always loved Scarlett’s bedroom. I like the angled ceilings, the moldings and trims,
and the steps that come down into it from the hall:
Tara and was left standing on the back lot until the late 1950s when it was sold to someone who planned to make it the centerpiece of a new amusement park. Sadly, it was never built.
The front door from Tara is now hanging at the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum.
The rest of the house is reportedly “rotting” in storage somewhere, according to Retro Web.
Here’s how Tara looked in 1959, when it was sold at auction:
The Wilkes Family Plantation: Twelve Oaks
The exterior of Twelve Oaks wasn’t real. For old movies like this they often used matte paintings.
In this screenshot I took, you can see how the images of the carriages rumbling up the drive
were added later, creating a ghostly effect:
The long drive and grounds were supposedly inspired by Boone Plantation. You can see a photo of the famous “Avenue of Oaks” that served as the inspiration for Twelve Oaks’ avenue in my post about The Notebook.
The did create a real front porch for the scenes where Scarlett and her family were greeted at the door, but the barbecue scenes were shot at Busch Gardens.
Whitehall, a Greek Revival in Covington, Georgia, reportedly served as the inspiration for Twelve Oaks:
You can read all about it and see more photos of Whitehall here.
The idea of the women going upstairs to take a nap together in the middle of the party seems odd to us now, doesn’t it?
And to see all those young slave girls put to work fanning them always makes me sad.
When they were filming this in the 1930s, the set itself was segregated in the beginning,
which makes Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar win for playing Mammy even more significant.
The men are downstairs having a meeting about the possibility of war:
Scarlett beckons Ashley into the library:
After Ashley refuses to dump Melanie and marry Scarlett instead, Scarlett picks up a vase and throws it.
We all know who’s lying on that settee, having heard every word:
After the war, Twelve Oaks is just a shadow of its former self.
Here we get a view of the crumbling staircase that Scarlett comes back to:
Aunt Pittypat’s House in Atlanta:
Scarlett becomes a widow during the war and is so bored with mourning that she goes to stay with Aunt Pittypat in Atlanta, where she is courted by Rhett Butler. Love the arched doorway into the room with the piano:
Ashley returns to Atlanta on leave for Christmas.
Note the Christmas tree on the table behind them, lit with real candles:
Rhett & Scarlett’s New House in Atlanta:
After the war, Scarlett marries Rhett and they build themselves the biggest, glitziest
mansion possible in Atlanta. From what I’ve read, the exterior wasn’t real, but another matte painting.
Staircases don’t get much more grand than this one.
Check out vanity area of Scarlett’s room–the crystal light fixtures, the swooping draperies, and is that a polar bear rug?
They only show Bonnie’s bedroom briefly, but what a bedroom it is!
The Back Patio:
The parrots are a great detail. Of course Scarlett would have parrots on her patio!
A shot of the front entry from the top of the stairs after Scarlett falls down them:
Is this one of your favorites, too? I recently had the opportunity to watch it at a local movie theater on the big screen and it was amazing to see all the details in the sets and costumes I had never really noticed on TV. If you ever have the opportunity to watch it in a theater, I highly recommend it!