Danielle Conroy, director of marketing and management for the Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, checks the progress on the Road to Tara Museum’s new Battle of Jonesborough exhibit. The display will open to the public Labor Day weekend. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — The Yankees will return to Jonesboro in September.
Officials from the Road to Tara Museum have exclusively told Clayton News Daily they will open the expansion of the museum’s Battle of Jonesborough exhibit to the public Labor Day weekend. The expansion is designed to give visitors to the “Gone With The Wind” museum an idea of the real-life role Clayton County played in the Civil War.
An announcement about the opening date is expected to be released to other media outlets today.
“We are very excited to open up this expanded part of the museum,” said Danielle Conroy, Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s director of marketing and management. “This gives visitors the chance to take in more of the actual history of the area and its people before stepping into the fictional history of ‘Gone With The Wind.’”
The exhibit is the first in a long list of events and activities Clayton County tourism officials have promised will take place as the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Jonesborough looms. The battle took place Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 1864.
The Battle of Jonesborough was fought because the Union Army wanted to close the rail line connecting Atlanta and Macon, which was provided a supply line for Confederate forces defending Atlanta. The line going through Jonesborough (as it was spelled at the time) was the last to be taken. Atlanta fell shortly after Jonesborough was captured by Union forces.
Kevin Langston, Georgia’s deputy commissioner for tourism, called the museum expansion a “great addition to Georgia’s tourism industry” at a time when the state prepares to look back on its role in the war between the states.
“The expanded exhibits at the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro come at a terrific time,” said Langston. “As America commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and, in particular, the Atlanta Campaign, this new exhibit tells stories that will enable visitors to more fully understand the impact that the Civil War had on our state.”
The Daughters of the Confederacy helped museum staff gather research for the expansion. It will include contemporary illustrations of the battle, photographs and stories of participants, and a broader history about the Atlanta campaign. A section of “Gone With The Wind” shows Scarlett O’Hara’s flight from a burning Atlanta to Clayton County as the Union Army enters the city.
In addition to commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle, Clayton County tourism officials will also participate in the observance of the 75th anniversary of the release of the film version of “Gone With The Wind.” When she wrote the book, Margaret Mitchell was heavily-influenced by childhood tales she’d heard about the war from Clayton County relatives.
Select government officials and members of the media are expected to get a sneak peak of the exhibit next week.
Other Convention and Visitors Bureau-sponsored events coming up over the next year and a half include:
• “3 Deep in the Yard - The Pivotal Battle of Jonesboro,” hosted Aug. 31 by local historian Peter Bonner at the Patrick Cleburne Memorial Confederate Cemetery. Bonner will recount the history of the battle.
• “Rhett and Scarlett Reunited…For the Evening,” Nov. 8 at the Road to Tara Museum. The Convention and Visitors Bureau considers this its public kick-off event for the film’s anniversary commemorations. A new permanent “Gone With the Wind” display will be unveiled.
• “Remembering a Classic” will be the local theme for National Tourism Week May 5-10.
• “3 Deep in the Yard - The Pivotal Battle of Jonesboro” will return Aug. 30, 2014.
• The world premiere of John Wiley’s book, “The Scarlett Letters: The Making of Gone With the Wind,” will be held at the Road to Tara Museum at an unspecified date in fall 2014.
• “1939-2014: A Cinematic Legend” will be held at an unspecified date in December 2014 as the final event to commemorate the anniversary of “Gone With the Wind.”