Gone With the Wind and Other Offbeat Museums

Gone With the Wind museum
A scale model of Tara at the Gone With the Wind Museum

Planeloads of tourists from Frankfurt and Tokyo disembark at the Atlanta airport looking for Gone With The Wind.

Gone With the Wind museum
Connie Sutherland, director of the GWTW Museum

You can’t blame them. A 2008 poll named the book Gone With The Wind the second most popular book in the United States behind the Bible. The movie Gone With The Wind is the highest grossing movie of all time adjusted for inflation. Who doesn’t remember that green dress that Carol Burnett wore?

Unfortunately, The University of Texas at Austin now houses the curtain dress. But you can see Scarlett’s honeymoon gown in its rightful state at the Marietta Gone With The Wind Museum.

The museum comes as close as you can get to Tara in Georgia and then only in the form of a miniature model that resides inside the Marietta museum. The real Tara … well, there never was a real Tara. The fictitious plantation house was a façade built on the Forty Acres backlot in Hollywood. It is now stored away in Lovejoy, Ga.

The Gone With The Wind Museum houses a private collection of GWTW memorabilia. The City of Marietta operates the museum as an anchor of its pleasant downtown square.

Hungry?

If you go, plan to have lunch at The Vineyard Café on the square. Located on the second floor of a gift shop, it’s easy to miss and you don’t want to miss it. The coconut bread pudding is the best I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Here are other offbeat museums you may enjoy.

Pieces of Elvis Presley Museum
Michael Bright of the Pieces of Elvis Presley Museum

Next time you’re traveling between Atlanta and Savannah break up your trip with a stop at the kitschy Pieces of Elvis Museum in Swainsboro, Ga. It’s a 20-minute ride off I-16 and a great way to enliven a boring, boring drive. My friend Bobby Douglas observed that the scenery on I-16 reads like this: “Piney woods, piney woods, swamp. Piney woods, piney woods, swamp.”

“One of Elvis Presley’s personal telephones from Graceland” comprises a part of the collection amassed by Elvis devotee and singer/songwriter Michael Bright. It’s a dial tone phone set, the style that replaced rotary dial phones. In white. Elvis himself may have used it.

The “museum” is really a room inside Swainsboro Antiques, which I actually found more interesting than the Elvis display. The stop is still well-worth the detour.

UPDATE: Michael Bright has informed me that he has sold his Elvis memorabilia to a private collector. But you can still visit him at the Main Street Market Antique Mall.

Hungry?

Coleman House Inn
The Coleman House Inn

Ask the friendly folks in the Elvis museum for directions to the nearby Coleman House Inn. A traditional Southern lunch, including their famous fried chicken, is served every day except Saturday. I fell hard for the Veg-All Casserole of all things. Highly recommended.

My advice is to continue along U.S. Highway 80, at least part of the way. It’s a nice way to get off the interstate and see Georgia.

fire museum in Woodbine, Georgia
Windy Briese of the Fire Museum in Woodbine

If you’re driving along I-95 between Savannah and Jacksonville, get off in Woodbine, Ga.

I kid not, the guy who runs the Woodbine International Fire Museum is named Windy Briese and it’s pronounced like you might guess.

Windy and I had a challenging conversation when I stopped in. I kept telling him I wanted to take his portrait and he kept telling me I wasn’t interested in the subtle nuances of the CO2 extinguishers on display. He had a point.

You don’t need to be a firefighter to enjoy Windy’s extensive collection of helmets, axes, fire masks, hoses and other accoutrement of the fire extinguishing world. His pride and joy is a white fire helmet emblazoned with “Residence of the Vice President” of the United States. I especially liked the French Gallet F1-SF Firefighter Helmet with a shiny galvanized nickel cover that’s worn by the Brigade de Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris.

There is no website for the museum. The address is 100 Bedell Avenue, Woodbine, Ga., 31569. A sign outside proclaims “Dead Peoples Things for Sale.”

Hungry?

About 40 miles from Woodbine at Exit 49 on I-95 you’ll find B&J’s Steak and Seafood  on Highway 17 in Darien, Ga. B&J’s was honored as the Best Fried Shrimp in Coastal Georgia by the Live Oak Lodge #17. Georgia’s second oldest city is known for fresh shrimp so being the best on the Georgia coast is an accolade. The shrimp is good but the fried pork chops are killer.

Driving Miss Daisy car
Steve Layne and the Driving Miss Daisy Cadillac

A four and a half hour drive completely across the state in Warm Springs you’ll find “the only wax museum left in Georgia,” according to curator Steve Layne.

I arrived at the Follow the Leaders Wax Museum late in the afternoon so I didn’t have time to explore. However, Steve was kind enough to pose for a portrait beside the Driving Miss Daisy Cadillac. There’s also a classic Rolls-Royce.

A brochure reveals that the museum has a wax likeness of Albert Einstein  signed by the celebrated genius.

You can find the museum on Facebook.

Hungry?

I can’t recommend a restaurant near the wax museum. Ask Steve. I’ll bet he knows.

6 Responses to Gone With the Wind and Other Offbeat Museums

  1. John Pike April 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    You almost had me on the first one. Carol Burnett indeed.

  2. Robert Baker April 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Carol Burnett was in Gone with the Wind?

    • Doug April 13, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Only in an hilarious episode on her television show.

  3. Terry Corr April 13, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Doug, you inspire me to travel Georgia again!

  4. Steve Maddern September 19, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    TARA-
    Yes TARA still exists, it’s in a Lovejoy, GA Dairy barn . Contact Peter Bonner, YouTube “Saving Tara”
    It’s being cleaned up and restored, meanwhile tours are available by appointment.

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