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A Civil War Fanatic is Rebuilding the Gone with the Wind House

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The dismantled pieces of the Gone with the Wind mansion are sitting in a dairy barn in the town of Lovejoy, Georgia, being slowly put back together by a Civil War fanatic named Peter Bonner. After the film, the facade of this fictional plantation (which helped earn art director Lyle Wheeler an Oscar) sat on a movie lot for two decades, until 1959, when it was dismantled and sold to a Georgia company that planned to turn it into a tourist attraction but never followed through. In 1979, the parts were bought by Betty Talmadge, ex-wife of Georgia senator Herman Talmadge, who passed away in 2005 without doing anything with them. After striking a deal with Betty's son, Bonner acquired the pieces, and now the former actor, real-estate agent, and therapist is recreating parts of the facade with a rotating cast of volunteers.

Eventually, according to a recent update on the Saving Tara Facebook page, Bonner hopes to stage completed sections of the facade next to photos of the way they looked on the set, adding the displays to the offerings of "Peter Bonner's Historical and Hysterical Tours," which started in Jonesboro, Georgia, with Bonner telling Civil War stories for tips in a Confederate cemetery. (Now, there's a number of tours on offer, including a Gone with the Wind tour, where Bonner relates local historical accounts that parallel the action of the film.) This piecemeal approach, funded partially by donations, and sales from a book Bonner authored called "The Official Guide to the Saving Tara Project," is being undertaken by a man who Vanity Fair deems deems a cautious but still very unorthodox preservationist. When asked by the magazine how many pieces there are in total, Bonner let out a "hearty laugh." When questioned as to whether he should be handling the pieces of the set without gloves on, he once replied "What? This stuff has been covered in dirt for so long!'"

Without blueprints or guidelines available, the very weathered piececs are hard to match. Bonner is working without glues or proxies, and is for now, only putting together sections of the set, because "if it comes out that all of this needs to be taken apart and taken to the Smithsonian one day, they aren't going to be putting my picture on the wall with a big X over it!"

· One Man's Quest to Rebuild Tara, the Plantation from Gone with the Wind [Vanity Fair]