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Film anniversary lures fans to historic Oakland Cemetery

The film receiving the most Oscar awards in 1939 has been scheduled for venues all over the United States in 2014 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of "Gone With The Wind," but Atlanta and it's Fox Theatre seems to hold the greatest allure both for their historic connection to the film and the historic star-studded premiere on December 15, 1939. The parade of Hollywood celebrities actually began at the Fox Theatre, and continued to Loew's Grand, which is no longer standing. Screenings of "Gone With The Wind" are scheduled at the Fox for July 26 and July 27 on popular Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta.

Historical marker at the entrance of Oakland Cemetery in the heart of Atlanta...
Historical marker at the entrance of Oakland Cemetery in the heart of Atlanta...
Christy Putnam

An important stop on the "Gone With The Wind" Trail has been luring fans of the film and novel to the heart of Atlanta for decades in order to visit the graves of author Margaret Mitchell, her husband, John Marsh and others, but Historic Oakland Cemetery began modestly as just six acres in 1850 when the population of the city only included about 2,500 residents.

By 1867, 42 more acres had been added to the original site to accommodate casualties of the Civil War who had been hastily buried on area battlefields. In 1872, the cemetery was christened "Atlanta Graveyard" or "City Burial Place." Two historical markers illuminate the importance of the site during the Civil War according to the Oakland Cemetery website:

The first reveals that "in 1862, Union operatives known as Andrews Raiders commandeered a locomotive at present-day Kennesaw and raced north to cut telegraph lines. They were captured and condemned as spies. Seven were hanged near Oakland’s southeast corner and interred in the cemetery before removal to the National Cemetery at Chattanooga." The second marker commemorates "high ground north of the Bell Tower, a two-story farmhouse stood in the summer of 1864. It served as headquarters for Confederate commander John B. Hood during the Battle of Atlanta, which was fought to the east of the cemetery on July 22."

Other famous Oakland residents include golfer Robert T. "Bobby" Jones, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, ex-slave Carrie Steele Logan who established the first African-American orphanage, and Moses Formwalt, Atlanta's first mayor. The beautiful gardens and artistic statuary are also part of Oakland's charm.

As tourists gather in Atlanta to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of "Gone With the Wind" and visit theme museums in Marietta and Jonesboro, the cemetery expects more visitors, and popular tour guide Kimberly Krautter will be busier than ever. A special Margaret Mitchell and "Gone With The Wind' tour is available on selected Saturdays.

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