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Atlanta’s historic home tours: Margaret Mitchell House

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Visitors check out the bed of Margaret Mitchell in her apartment. Three-quarters beds like this were popular in small apartments of that day. Atlanta History Center photo.

Our journey to the area’s historical homes has so far taken AJCer Howard Pousner and me to Bulloch Hall in Roswell and the Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta.

For the next stop, Howard checked in on the Margaret Mitchell House on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.

Margaret Mitchell House

History: “The Dump,” as Mitchell referred to this tiny, sweet apartment, is where the author composed most of “Gone With the Wind” from 1926 to 1929.

Highlights:

  • After the Atlanta History Center made some changes to the Mitchell House tour this summer, guests now enter the building through the rear Crescent Avenue entrance, just as Mitchell did when she lived in Apartment No. 1.

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    Margaret Mitchell House

  • The sunny corner where the would-be author, recovering from a foot injury, typed away on a used 1923 Remington portable typewriter commands attention as soon as you enter. It’s impressive how something as epic as “GWTW” could emerge from a spot so humble.
  • The cozy bedroom in the middle of the “shotgun” apartment features a three-quarters bed that likely fit the 4-foot-11 author better than it did her 6-foot-1 husband, John Marsh. On the bed is a framed photo of solider Marsh on a ship back from France following World War I. Next to it is one of Mitchell, peering adoringly at someone unseen. You find out that she had been looking at first husband Red Upshaw (the main inspiration for Rhett Butler), and that Marsh took scissors to the photo, his favorite of his wife, and cut out her ex.
  • “Margaret Mitchell: A Passion for Character,” a new exhibit, follows the guided tour, giving insight into the writer before and after international fame. It includes an example of one of the small “books” she wrote as a child, which she handmade by folding lined paper and binding them with decorative cardboard covers. Across the courtyard from the gift shop filled with all things “GWTW,” an enhanced second exhibit “The Making of a Movie Legend,” includes the life-size portrait of Scarlett O’Hara that hung in Rhett’s mansion bedroom in the film as well as Tara’s doorway from the set.

Tour: The apartment is a quick guided one, over in less than a half-hour; the exhibits are self-guided and could command as much as a couple of hours.

Holiday offerings: No decorations or special programming here, but Mitchell House presents readings by Terry Kay (Dec. 8) and Sandra Jones Cropsey (Dec. 15) during Candlelight Nights at Atlanta History Center.

The Atlanta History Center has just launched a dual ticket deal, giving people interested in visiting the History Center and the Margaret Mitchell House entry to both for 25 percent off. Prices for the dual ticket, valid for nine days from date of purchase: $20; $16 seniors; $11 ages 4-12; free under 4. Dual tickets can be purchased at either site.

Information: 990 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-249-7015, www.gwtw.org.

9 comments Add your comment

Gloria Moulder

September 5th, 2010
4:33 pm

My dad Hugh Gravitt’s car hit and killed Margaret Mitchell in 1949. I’m in the process of writing a book about his life, and the accident. Would you buy and read the real story behind gone with the wind.
I started the book shortly after his death, but it has taken me over sixteen years to come to terms with what I discovered in my research that led to her death.

Danny

December 30th, 2009
9:41 pm

I would like to know more about Hugh Gravitt and his life. Anyone have any info on him? THE MAN WHO KILLED SCARLETT BULTER.

Kelly

November 22nd, 2009
3:37 pm

Actually, she was headed to the Peachtree Art theater to see The Canterbury Tales– it was close to 10th Street. And she passed away 5 days later, not 7.

Great ATL Guy

November 22nd, 2009
8:51 am

Hey ya’ll, I’m 51, but I guess I’m an old soul. And Bama lady, I caught the typo and knew what you meant :) The Marshes were headed to the movies (not sure what theatre was near 13th then), and she darted out in front of Mr. Gravitt, who was speeding. She lingered at Grady I think for 7 days, then died. Mr. G spent 6 months in jail, I have a copy of his obit from the AJC… he died in the early ’90s. Mr. G’s daugher was a hairdresser in Alpharetta – Betty Smith, who I think is still living. Her son cut a man off in traffic and the man followed Ms. Smith’s son home and shot and killed him their driveway, very tragic family.

dave

November 22nd, 2009
8:09 am

I’m a mere babe of 57; but, I’m still a native Atlantan and really enjoyed the previous posts . . . Thanks to both of you!!!!!

goodgoing

November 22nd, 2009
12:23 am

sorry, mean What an instead of am……..can’t see well,lol

goodgoing

November 22nd, 2009
12:20 am

REALLY TRUELY AWESOME, Great ATL Guy, Proud of you and your knowledge. Thank you for contributing information and what am amazing background.
Old lady in Bama, lol
goodgoing

Great ATL Guy

November 20th, 2009
6:21 pm

My father was friends with the man that ran over and killed Ms. Mitchell, the man’s name was Hugh Gravitt. I live on 13th near Peachtree, site of the accident, and almost bought Ms. Mitchell’s other apt at One South Prado. A family friend is movie star Joan Fontaine, who tested for Scarlett… and I’m an Atlanta Native whose Godmother attended the GWTW premiere… how’s that for 6 degrees of separation?

[...] continue our tour of Atlanta area historic homes today with Swan House, another home that, like the Margaret Mitchell House, is managed by the Atlanta History Center. My colleague, Howard Pousner, explained that even before [...]