Twenty years ago the movie Forrest Gump hit theaters, so let’s take a look back at that wonderful old house in Greenbow, Alabama, that Forrest Gump and his mama lived in.
I’ve had a lot of readers ask me where it is and whether it’s still standing, but I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news on that front…
*UPDATE: There’s a new post about this movie answering questions about Jenny’s farmhouse
and whether Forrest’s house was in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot. Read it here.*
Forrest Gump’s House in Greenbow, Alabama
Although it looked like a real house that had been around for decades, it was actually built for the movie “hastily and not to code,” and was torn down after shooting ended.
Also? It wasn’t even in Alabama.
Note: There are Amazon affiliate links in this post that may earn me commission.
Besides the town square scenes, which were filmed in Savannah, Georgia, most of the movie was actually shot in South Carolina.
Both the Gump house and Jenny’s farmhouse were reportedly built on the Bluff Plantation on the Combahee River between Varnville and Beaufort.
Mama Gump took boarders, and there was a sign on the front porch that said, “Rooms to Let.”
Standing in for the fictional town of Greenbow was Varnville, about 35 miles outside Beaufort.
Even the Vietnam scenes were filmed in South Carolina on Fripp Island and Hunting Island State Park, off the Beaufort coast.
Those mountains, like so many other things in the movie (the ping pong balls, Lt. Dan’s missing legs, etc.), were created with CGI.
Hard to believe these rooms were built for the movie. They have an authentic old-house look to them.
Bill Murray, John Travolta and Chevy Chase all reportedly turned down the role of Forrest, and both Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman are said to have passed on the role of Jenny.
Tom Hanks’s distinctive accent in the movie was inspired by the actor who played Forrest as a kid and really spoke that way (Michael Conner Humphreys).
Sally Field, who played his mother, is only 10 years older than Tom Hanks in real life.
We saw the bedroom when Mama Gump lay dying in the bed, and then again years later when Jenny was sick.
When Jenny rejects Forrest, he says, “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.”
That pretty much sums up the theme of the movie, doesn’t it?
After Jenny leaves him, he decides to run.
He takes off down the long lane in front of his house and then spends over three years
running from one side of the country to the other…
I wish we’d gotten to see more of the rooms inside the house, like the kitchen and the screened porch!
The house was decorated for the wedding with pink ribbons and flowers:
Robin Wright was so good in this movie. I tear up every time I see the scene where she throws rocks at her (abusive) dad’s old farmhouse and Forrest says, “Sometimes I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”
People has an article about all the ways the movie influenced pop culture since it premiered 20 years ago.
Haley Joel Osment made his big-screen debut as Forrest, Jr.
The three of them walk down the drive to the house near the end of the film:
The movie was inspired by this bestselling novel by Winston Groom:
(Amazon affiliate links)
You can watch the movie on BluRay and buy the soundtrack on CD.
*UPDATE: I have a new post with better photos and information here.
For more information about the Forrest Gump house,
check SC Information Highway, Movie Locations, and People.
Visit my Movie Houses page to see more, including the one from The Notebook.
This is my favourite movie!! Thanks so much for the wonderful post about the house, as disappointing as it is to hear that it no longer exists!
Alie B says
Great post, Julia. At the risk of rousing the wrath of other readers, I must admit that this movie drives me crazy! Don’t get me wrong; I think the acting is top-notch, and the scenery and sets are fabulous. It’s the storyline I’m just not buying. Although Jenny is kind to Forrest when they’re kids, it seems to me that she spends her adulthood either avoiding or using him. Also, I dislike that the author has claimed so many pop-culture expressions and events, and attributed them to Forrest.
I too, loved this house. I’m so sad to learn that it wasn’t a real home, and was torn down after filming. I don’t understand why, with all the available gorgeous old homes, movies have to be filmed in fictional buildings. I feel this way about the house in The Holiday. It seems extremely wasteful to me.
…alie you are not rousing my wrath…loved the house…hated the movie…there was nothing authenticly southern about this movie…period…blessings laney
It’s funny, I was just talking to a friend of mine who feels the same way about the movie. I’m with you when it comes to the houses, or “standing sets” as they call them, being built for filming and torn down immediately after. I always hate to hear they were demolished. 🙁
Amen! As a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South), the movie irks me to no end. Did they leave a single stereotype untouched?
BUT, I love the house.
Julia, have you ever featured any of The Roosevelt’s homes? I’ve been watching the new Ken Burn’s on The Roosevelts and the houses are gorgeous. I was suprised to learn that Theodore Roosevelt was married at Bulloch Hall in Roswell, GA–I’ve driven by it numerous times!
Hi Brandy! I haven’t featured the Roosevelts but I was watching the doc last night and actually snapped a photo of that red cottage with my phone when it came on the screen. LOVED it. I need to learn more about some of those houses because there are definitely some beautiful ones!
Ohhhhh, a red cottage?! Yes, please Julia, if you can find out more about it, that would be l.o.v.e.l.y. 🙂
Yes, it was adorable! I saved the episode on my DVR so I can see it again. 🙂
Kelly - Talk of the House says
I loved that house, but I have never liked the movie. I have to jump in here about the documentary on the Roosevelts. Look closely at the photos of young Theodore. Call me crazy, but he looked an awful like Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey (Dan Stevens) in the eyes to me when he was young. (Maybe I AM crazy.)The death of Teddy Roosevelt’s wife and mother was soooo sad to me. Sorry…I think I am supposed to talking about Forrest!
I’m learning all kinds of things I didn’t know about the Roosevelts, and the fact that Teddy lost both his mother AND his new wife on the same day shocked me. I had never heard that before. So sad! I was also surprised to see how handsome he was in his younger years. I hadn’t thought of “Matthew Crawley,” so I’m going to pay attention now and look for the resemblance!
My favorite movie 🙂 I watch is at least once a week!
Do you really? I have to admit I probably hadn’t watched it all the way through since it first came out in the 1990s. When I saw they were streaming it on Netflix, I was curious to see how well it held up after all these years and was pleasantly surprised. I heard they were playing it at IMAX theaters last week for a limited run to celebrate its 20th anniversary — did anyone get to see it there? Sounded like fun!
Lisa M in Indy says
Really? ha. You can probably quote every line.
I was never annoyed with the little scenes they plopped Forrest into throughout history (like when LBJ showed his gallbladder scar). And Jenny was a 60ies, free spirit. I never thought she “used Forrest” as another person commented. She was too pure of heart to do that. As someone who was also a child of the 60ies, it was all about ‘free love’ and living in the now. Wasn’t “little Forrest” with his Daddy the sweetest?
Well, so much to say really and I guess it would have more to do with the movie than the house, but here goes anyway. It would have indeed been wonderful to see something more of the kitchen. I can just imagine how it may have looked and the dishes and linens that may have been in it (I’m a complete dork about such things). The casting was just perfect as is. That does not imply in anyway that I think Sally Field is old. I wouldn’t have actually guessed her as older than Tom Hanks. As for the role of Jenny, this is not a criticism of Demi Moore or Nicole Kidman, but it would seem bizarre to me without Robin Wright.
Per the comment about Forrest Gump being apart of or spearheading significant points in history, for me at least, it was one of the funniest parts! Per Jenny’s behaviour towards Forrest, a little TMI here, having known several people who experienced such things, her actions were not at all out of character and quite mild in comparison. Which leads me to the whole throwing rocks thing, no kidding, Julia and oh so true. And just a question here. Why on earth are some movies set in one location and filmed in a different one? I understand budgets can be an issue, but why the plot set in Alabama and filmed in South Caroline??
I can’t imagine any other actors in these roles either, Jonia! Sally Field was so perfect as his mom that I was surprised to realize they were only 10 years apart.
Good question about why they don’t film in Alabama when that’s where the story takes place, etc. Seems to be a pretty common practice to just pretend one place is another, though, doesn’t it? South Carolina seems to be a favorite place for filmmakers. So many good movies have been shot there!
Tax breaks, for one. Other factors include ease of shooting around a specific time frame, natural landmarks and weather and good supply lines.
Patty Day says
I really enjoy all the behind the scene information you write about. Thanks so much! It’s so fascinating.
Glad you enjoy behind-the-scenes info as much as I do, Patty! My family laughs about trying to watch movies with me because I can’t stop saying, “Did you know…?” Ha. 🙂
Yes, thank you so much for the behind the scenes info 🙂 I love it! Hahahaha, it’s a good thing I don’t know all the info you do. As the only female in this household of four, I frequently find myself in disfavour while watching a movie for chatting…and snorting. If I knew all that you do, I might be a lone movie viewer more often than not! Ha
My daughter and I watched a movie with Dave a few nights ago and when the credits rolled at the end, he laughed and said, “You two talked right through it. Did you actually see any of the movie?” Oops! Guess we were feeling chatty. Ha.
Vicki Crowe says
Loved the movie. There is no “Greenbow” Alabama, but we do have lots of old towns like it, with plenty of historic villages and towns with seasonal open houses. Ya’ll come!
I will! I’ve never been to Alabama but it looks beautiful. 🙂
Becki @littlemrssevenonesix says
This was a fantastic movie house. We have visited Savannah GA a few times and the squares where Forrest waiting…the house is most certainly a main character in this film. Home base…;)
Yeah, I love how we keep coming back to the house as everything around them changes over the years. “Home base” is a good way to put it!
Thank you for sharing this with us. I had a lot of fun reading the behind the scenes trivia.
I’m so glad Tom Hanks played Forrest and Robin Wright played Jenny. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing those characters.
Laura Sudderth says
These photos…this is exactly why I fell in love with South Carolina. Not so much Georgia, but it was South Carolina that screamed Southern…to me anyway. Sometimes I think I should have been born and raised in the South like my Grandmother. I think I have seen that movie 20 times by now. I love it so.
Lisa M in Indy says
Maybe you lived in the old South in your previous life!
I always thought of the South as romantic – of another time, mysterious, the moss-covered trees, low country, the history and the people, especially the belles. Several chic novels I read as a teen also inspired me to want to go to college there. I did.
I attended Wesleyan College in Macon, GA which is a beautiful women’s college founded in 1836 and is the OLDEST (“and best”) women’s college in the world. Wesleyan was the FIRST college to grant degrees to women! It was predominantly for music majors but also had other degree programs.
When I attended in the late 60ies it was a fading small, Southern Belle-type institution where well-heeled daddies sent their little girls to be educated. As someone from the Northeast, it was pointed out to me that I was a Yankee! Wesleyan students were (are) referred to as “Wesleyannes”. The college is beautiful – many buildings have grand front porches and loggias with massive columns, shading rows of white rocking chairs. Magnolia trees are in abundance on the quiet campus.
Wesleyan has a wonderful history and continues to build on the original premise of educating young women by ensuring academics keep pace with other institutions and offer outstanding opportunities. I loved my years at Wesleyan, living in Georgia for a number of years after, and the culture contributed significantly to the woman I became. I love movies of the South such as Forrest Gump, Prince of Tides, etc.
Check out the recent book, “Suffer and Grow Strong” which is a compilation of a young Georgia girl’s diaries as she attended Wesleyan in the 1840s, her life during the Civil War and her civic contributions as a post-Civil War matron. Your library (and Amazon) also provide similar 19th c. diaries of fascinating young women who lived during the Civil War in the South.
That book sounds really interesting. I’m going to look for that. Loved hearing your stories about Wesleyan, too, Laura — thanks!
Lisa M in Indy says
Thanks for your nice response, Julia. There are quite a few Southern Belle diaries and I’ve read about 3. I have to say that after reading about life in the South during and after the Civil War I have a new understanding for how awful it was and WHY Southerners still feel the pain of what the Yankees did. Here’s the link to Wesleyan in case your daughter is looking for a special college – one with history, and respected academics: https://www.wesleyancollege.edu/about/history.cfm.
Thanks for the link, Lisa!
Esther George says
Hi Julia I love this movie and could not imagine any other actors playing these wonderful characters. I love the house and it’s surroundings. Thank you for sharing this beauty, I can appreciate it is a bit of a let down that it wasn’t filmed in the actual state it was meant to be filmed in but must say I’m just glad they made the movie. Till next time….Regards Esther from Sydney. PS you guys have such a vast and beautiful country I’m always turning to the Atlas to keep up with these movie locations.
Lisa M in Indy says
What a wonderful film. I remember the first time I saw it I was so “lost” in it that I forgot that that Forrest was Tom Hanks. Such stellar performances by Tom, Robin, Sally and “Sgt. Dan”. Every time I saw Forrest with Jenny it was emotional to see their love. Forrest’s house definitely has the look of the Deep South with the moss-covered trees, Low Country land – such a beautiful place. I’ve stayed in Beaufort, SC and it’s quiet & romantic. Thanks for the wonderful pictures and memories. I’ll be on the look out for the next run of the movie.
I’d love to visit Beaufort someday. I haven’t been to SC since I was a teenager but LOVED it. So beautiful there!
I always liked the movie and I’m glad that you featured it. I also agree that Robin Wright was good in this role. I also tear up every time I see the scene where she throws rocks at her (abusive) dad’s old farmhouse. Her behavior or actions didn’t seem so out of character to me either especially for people who lived during those times or who had experienced what she did. Like many other people I cannot see other actors playing these wonderful characters either. Thanks again for featuring it.
Oh, I just wanted to add too that I’ve been watching the Roosevelts too–every night. I was also intrigued by their homes. I’d never heard about Teddy losing both his mother and his first wife on the same day either. It was so very heart breaking. I’m certain very few people really knew of their personal struggles and demons. Leave it to Ken Burns to make such an inspiring film about their lives. His documentaries are always the best.
I do love a good Ken Burns documentary. All the old photos and clips they find really bring it to life, too!
Maureen Hubert says
I need a friend like Forrest Gump.
Don’t we all? 🙂