Fans of “Gone With the Wind” gone wild! At least, that’s what we expect might happen once news catches on that one of the homes that inspired this epic award-winning 1939 film has gone up for auction—and for a potential pittance, with a starting bid of $1 million.
The mansion, called Twelve Oaks, was built in 1836 in Covington, GA. Then, nearly a hundred years later, “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell saw a photo of this home in the Atlanta Journal. At the time, her best-seller was being made into a movie, so she sent the news clipping to the movie producers, who ended up using it as the inspiration for the home of Ashley Wilkes.
The newspaper clipping “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell sent to movie producer David Selznick
Wilkes, you might recall, is the man who becomes the obsession of Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, who checks out his amazing digs in the movie’s opening scenes and then spends most of her young life foolishly pursuing Wilkes. Alas, America’s Civil War throws a wrench in those plans when this plantation gets burned to the ground. War is hell.
So was this home ‘Gone With the Wind’? Not quite
But never fear—since the movie was filmed on set in Hollywood, the actual Twelve Oaks was not burned to a crisp. But that’s not to say that this mansion maintained its good looks through the decades, either.
At some point after inspiring the film “Gone With the Wind,” Twelve Oaks fell into disrepair. By the time its current owners, John and Nicole Munn, first saw the place in 2011 and purchased it for $486,000, it had turned into an antebellum dump.
Twelve Oaks bed-and-breakfast suite
“There were boarded-up windows. There were at least 30 busted windows we replaced. There was water damage on every floor,” Nicole told WSB-TV in Atlanta. “One of the porches was being held up by one last nail that hadn’t rusted away. It was in really bad shape.”
It took a few million dollars and countless days of restoration to get it into the award-winning shape it enjoys today. Currently, Twelve Oaks is an eight-unit bed-and-breakfast that, just last year, was added to Southern Living’s list of Best Inns, TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame, and Georgia Public Broadcasting’s list of Most Romantic Places in Georgia.
It’s also profitable. The eight suites range in price from $199 to $400 per night, and the inn averages 55% to 60% occupancy per year. There’s also the potential to increase the number of suites by converting the innkeeper’s residence to guest rooms, converting the carriage house into guest suites, or by building cottages on the property.
There are 12 bedrooms and 12.5 baths, all of them decorated with valuable antiques and reproductions. Rich paneling, wood flooring, and leaded-glass windows can be found throughout.
There are a whopping 12 fireplaces in total, plus a beautifully designed kitchen that can be used for either public catering or private family dining.
Outside, the 3-acre grounds include manicured gardens, a lovely pool next to a chandelier-lit gazebo, and a carriage house that can accommodate four cars. All of this, and a location that’s only four blocks from the historic Covington Town square.
Pool and cabana
Not just a bed-and-breakfast
But there are other uses forTwelve Oaks beyond a B&B.
“This would make a magnificent home, a lucrative business, or both,” says Dewey Jacobs of Target Auctions, which is handling the sale. “Operating permits are already in place for a B&B, an events venue, and a historic tourist site. And the property receives movie and tourist contracts each year. So this could be a huge opportunity for someone.”
Twelve Oaks decked out for an event
As a matter of fact, “Gone With the Wind” is not the only production in Twelve Oaks’ history. Many films, TV shows, and commercials have been shot there, including “Life of the Party,” “Vacation,” “Cannonball Run,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and the “Vampire Diaries.”
The mansion has been used in many movies.
History buffs will note that this gorgeous home was built well before the Civil War broke out in 1861. And they might be wondering: How was this Twelve Oaks inspiration spared the same scorched-earth treatment from Gen. Sherman’s Army that its namesake suffered in the film?
There are two theories: The first is that Sherman didn’t burn any homes in Covington because he had a friend who grew up in the area. The second is that either Sherman or a top officer in his army had a thing for a lady who lived in the house.
Why sell now?
So after putting so much money and time into this meticulous restoration, why are the owners parting with it?
“Health issues and other factors have convinced them it’s time to move on,” explains Jacobs.
“We feel we have accomplished what we set out to do and are ready to start a new adventure,” says Nicole. “This was a dream of mine, and we feel we’ve achieved it beyond our imaginations.”
Balcony overlooking the grounds
“Somebody is going to get a great deal,” Jacobs says. “This is one of the premier mansions in the country, and it’s never been on the market before.”
When asked what he expects it to sell for, he says he’s not sure because a home of this scale has no comps.
“It depends on the buyer’s purpose for it,” he concludes.
Source: Housing Trends Feed