"The house where Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone With the Wind" has a mixed history, and that will be reflected in its new incarnation. House divided: Margaret Mitchell home gets unusual makeover" (1995)
New paintings of the Margaret Mitchell House as it will appear when restoration is completed next spring show a structure with a split personality.
From Peachtree Street, visitors will see the two-story Victorian residence that Cornelius Sheehan built in 1899 at 10th and Peachtree. From Crescent Avenue, they will see the structure’s later incarnation as the apartment building where Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind.”
After Mitchell’s residency, from 1925 to 1932, the house fell into disrepair - an ironic fate considering her fond nickname for the building: the Dump.
A grass-roots effort to save the structure, almost foiled by a fire last year, was rescued by German auto manufacturer Daimler-Benz, which donated $5 million toward its restoration and operation. The house will be open in time for Olympic visitors next summer.
Considering its mixed ancestry, some Atlantans questioned whether the house was worth saving. Sheehan sold it in 1906, and seven years later new owners rolled the structure 40 feet down the hill from Peachtree toward Crescent, tucking an additional floor beneath the original first floor.
"How they did it, I’m not sure," said project architect Barbara Black, of Surber & Barber.
Later, commercial property sprang up in the vacated space on Peachtree, and the Sheehan house became an apartment building facing Crescent Avenue. The new ground floor was Mitchell’s home.
Accommodating this evolution was one of the challenges for the architects, Black said. “You have a house with two fronts, the 1890s side on Peachtree and the 1920s side on Crescent Avenue. The question is, architecturally, how do you split it?”
The answer: Somewhere down the middle. An estimated 90 visitors an hour will enter Sheehan’s old front parlor, one of the few sections of the house, in addition to Mitchell’s quarters, that survived last year’s fire. There they will see videos about the house and Margaret Mitchell.
Descending a staircase, they will arrive in the 1920s, on the ground floor of the apartment building, and wander through the Mitchell residence.
Visitors will proceed through the apartment to 1,000 square feet of exhibit space, where they can learn more about the neighborhood.
In existing buildings to the south of the house will be a gift shop and visitors’ center. The structures are now occupied by a Vietnamese restaurant, an Indian restaurant and a police precinct office.
These buildings and the remaining land in the block where the Mitchell house stands were purchased in July for $1.75 million by Margaret Mitchell House Inc., the nonprofit organization that is resurrecting the house.
"I have to get out of here Saturday next week," said Hang Le Thi, co- owner of Cha Gio. "Cha Gio is gone with the wind."
Mani Roy, owner of Touch of India, said his store will close Oct. 30. Both restaurateurs plan to seek other Midtown locations.
Credit: Bo Emerson. The Atlanta Constitution [Atlanta, Ga] 25 Sep 1995: C/1.