This 1836 Greek Revival known as Whitehall in Covington, Georgia, was author Margaret Mitchell’s inspiration for Twelve Oaks, the Wilkes Plantation in the classic movie Gone with the Wind.
Since then the grand home has gone on to appear in over 15 movies, including the recent comedy Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy.
It was completely renovated in 2017 and has been operating as an inn. Gone with the Wind fans are excited because the house is for sale at auction this month. Take a look!
Note: There are Amazon affiliate links in this post that may earn me commission.
The Inspiration for Twelve Oaks in “Gone with the Wind”
When they were trying to decide on the look for the houses in the movie,
Mitchell sent a newspaper clipping with a photo of Whitehall to Wilbur Kurtz,
who was the historian working on the film:
She wrote, “Twelve Oaks. This was not far from Atlanta. I like this for Ashley’s home.”
You can see how the house influenced the look of Twelve Oaks in the movie:
The exterior in Gone with the Wind wasn’t a real building but a matte painting, which is why the people look almost ghost-like in this screenshot I took of them riding horses down the long lane toward it.
The long, tree-lined drive was inspired by the “Avenue of Oaks” at Boone Plantation, as I showed you in my post about the sets and filming locations for the movie The Notebook.
They did create part of a real front porch (facade) for the close-up scenes at Twelve Oaks,
but the windows and vines, etc, were painted on.
The front door led directly into Stage 11 where the interior sets had been built.
The Twelve Oaks barbecue scenes were filmed at Busch Gardens in Pasadena:
When Scarlett sees Twelve Oaks on the day of the barbecue in the novel, it’s described this way:
The white house reared its perfect symmetry before her, tall of columns, wide of verandas, flat of roof, beautiful as a woman is beautiful who is so sure of her charm that she can be generous and gracious to all.
Scarlett loved Twelve Oaks even more than Tara, for it had a stately beauty, a mellowed dignity that Gerald’s house did not possess.
The Front Hall at Twelve Oaks
The staircase they designed for the movie was bigger than life:
The sets in GWTW had help in post-production from special photographic-effects artist Jack Cosgrove.
As Pauline Bartel explains:
Any visual elements needed for the film that were too costly or too difficult to build or photograph or that did not exist in real life were painted on 30-inch by 40-inch glass panels. These matte-painted images, called “Cosgrove shots,” were then combined with the footage shot by the director on the set or on location.
In the scene during which Scarlett whispers for Ashley to join her in the Twelve Oaks library for her declaration of love, observe the hallway through which the elegant Mr. Wilkes walks. The ceiling and the crystal chandelier were matte paintings.
There are 12 Fireplaces in the House
They went for a more elaborate look for the fireplaces, in the movie, too:
The auction house listing says:
Frankly my dear, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own one of the finest and most famous historic mansions in the US. Named one of the Top 10 Antebellum Sites in GA, Twelve Oaks is on the National Register.
Experience the South like Scarlett or Rhett as you sit on the veranda and enjoy your lemonade.
A $2M renovation was completed in 2017 that included electrical, new HVAC, all code requirements, baths were added, the kitchen was completely renovated and more. Everything is high-end and immaculate. In January of this year, Chubb Masterpiece Group estimated the cost to rebuild at over $6.3M.
Twelve Oaks is a successful inn operating in Covington, Georgia:
Within just six years as a bed and breakfast, it won Top 10 Inns in the US and Southern Living’s Best of the South in 2018. As an event venue, it won Best of the Knot and the WeddingWire Couples Choice Award. There is also a third permit in place as a historic site to offer tours.
With its tie to “Gone with the Wind” and to at least 15 other movies filmed at the mansion along with its designation as one of the top antebellum sites in Georgia, it could easily draw hundreds per day.
Fourth, the property averages one to two movie or TV show contracts per year and also provides accommodations for cast. Or just live out your Scarlett and Rhett fantasy by living there.
There are two reproductions of Rhett Butler’s suits and four gowns that Scarlett wore
in Gone with the Wind, designed for the film’s 75th anniversary in conjunction
with Warner Bros. You can see one of the dresses displayed below:
There are 12 Bedrooms and 12.5 Baths
According to the listing:
One of the baths includes very rare antique luxury shower that is one of the only ones in the world.
There are two bathtubs that cost over $14,000 each.
The drop-dead gorgeous master has a morning bar, amazing architectural features, and a bath worthy of the cover of a magazine.
Five chimneys and twelve fireplaces modernized with remote controls.
There’s a Captain’s Walk with views of the property
Covington is known as “The Hollywood of the South,” and this house is familiar to location scouts.
The current owners say they typically charged $3,000-$5,000 a day to film there, and often provided accommodations for the cast and crews, as well.
The house has over 10,000 square feet.
It sits on over 3 acres of gardens with a pool, gazebo, and pergola
It would be hard to let this one go!
The current homeowners say, “We feel we have accomplished what we set out to do and are ready to start a new adventure. This was a dream of ours and we feel we have achieved it beyond our imaginations.”
The history of Whitehall, via Twelve Oaks Inn:
Judge John Harris built the home as his town house in 1836. He owned a large plantation near Covington that was pilfered by federal troops in 1864 when they were beginning Sherman’s march to the Sea. The Atlanta History Center has journal entries from Sherman and Harris describing details of Sherman’s thirty day stay at the Harris Plantation.
After the Civil War and the property exchanging owners, Robert Franklin Wright bought the property for one thousand dollars. Robert and his wife Salina named the house The Cedars. They refurbished the interior and added a boxwood garden to the rear of the mansion.
In 1903 they sold the home to Nathanial S. Turner. Turner was an affluent cotton broker who owned Covington Mills.
The home eventually acquired a new name, Whitehall. He added the third floor with the dormer windows, an expanded colonnade, and a second-floor.
I got the book Gone With the Wind when I was 14 and thought it was the most exciting novel I’d ever read.
(Amazon affiliate link)
I reread it recently and it’s still captivating, but there are definitely problematic parts that I hadn’t noticed as a girl.
I was kind of “gulping” a lot at some of the passages about slavery, which was considered “not so bad, really.” I was also stunned to realize that they were essentially marrying off young teenage girls to middleaged men, which I hadn’t realized before.
Just want to be upfront about that for anyone who hasn’t read it or seen the movie in a while. We definitely are seeing the story through a different lens now than then.
Read my original post about the sets to learn about how the movie was a segregated set and they tried to bar Hattie McDaniel from attending the Oscars to accept her Academy Award.
I recently had the chance to watch the classic on the big screen at my local theater. It was amazing to see the sets and costumes the way they were intended, and larger than life. If you ever have the opportunity to view it that way, I highly recommend it.
The book The Making of Gone With the Wind by Steve Wilson
is filled with amazing photos and information for fans (affiliate link):
The listing says, “Twelve Oaks Inspiration of Gone With The Wind will be offered at a Special Auction Thursday July 25th at 2:00pm (ET). Starting bid will be $1M and Auction will be held onsite. $10,000 cashier’s check will be required to bid.”
Thanks to the Target Auction Company for the photos and information about the property.
To learn more about 2176 Monticello Street SW in Covington, Georgia,
check the Target Auction Company, the Realtor.com listing, and the Twelve Oaks Inn website.
Visit my Gone with the Wind post to learn more about the other houses from the movie.