Sometimes, people make the most amazing discoveries walking down the street. On a recent work-related visit to Atlanta, I was walking down Peachtree Street with a couple of colleagues when I spotted a thee-story Tudor Revival building with a plaque in front of it. It turns out this was the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote the classic, Gone With the Wind.
The house was built in 1899 by Cornelius Sheehan as a single family home. It was converted into an apartment building in 1919. Margaret Mitchell and her husband, John Marsh moved into Apartment No. 1 in 1925, according to the Margaret Mitchell House website. The apartment was restored to its original features, including the leaded glass window Mitchell looked out when she wrote the classic novel.
The building was used for apartments until 1978, when it was abandoned. A group of preservationists banded together to save and restore the house. To keep it from being destroyed, Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young designated the house as a city landmark in 1989.
However, in 1994 the building was severely damaged by fire and Daimler-Benz, the German auto maker, supported its purchase and restoration. There was another fire in 1996, just days before the completion of the restoration. The house opened to the public in 1997 and has become one of Atlanta’s treasured landmarks.
Unfortunately, time did not permit me to tour the building. I learned later from perusing the website that the Pulitzer Prize she earned and the success of the book and movie gave Mitchell the financial resources to support a number of philanthropic causes in Atlanta. Mitchell also founded an annual literary contest in the Atlanta federal penitentiary and (at a time when segregation was rampant) she worked on projects with the city’s African American community, including scholarship contributions to Morehouse College.