#76: The Wren’s Nest

It’s spring break at NGU, and for the first time, I have the entire week off. When I found out, Ticcoa and I started planning all these potential daytrips for this week, and she and I, as well as Harvin and Jess took one of them yesterday to Atlanta, GA.

wrens-nestThis beautiful home in Atlanta was the home of Joel Chandler Harris, creator of the Uncle Remus tales (Brer Rabbit, the Tar Baby, etc.). Visiting this place was absolutely fantastic. Our tour guide was a 78-year-old woman, Nannie, who’s worked there for 13 years. She was funny, engaging, overflowing with Southern hospitality, and generally just a delight to be around. She gave us anecdotes from tours she’s given for school children; she also talked up the current executive director (who is 25 and a descendant of both J.C. Harris and Shakespeare) and strongly stressed his young age and English degree to us four girls :).

Seriously, the experience was fantastic. Nannie knows her stuff. We learned so much about Harris’ life from birth to death and about his writing (both journalistic and Uncle Remus). I won’t hesitate in saying that it’s the best author house/museum tour I’ve ever been on (including the one with the delightful Louise at Connemara last year!). I heartily recommend it, and I feel sure I’ll visit again (soon, hopefully…Nannie plans on retiring when she turns 80!).

After leaving the Wren’s Nest, we headed downtown to the Varsity drive-in for lunch. Delightfully retro. And they have great fries.

Next, we got lost with all the freakin’ roads named Peachtree in Atlanta! (And yes, I was driving. I knew we’d get lost…I can’t go someplace without getting lost, it seems.) But finally, we found the right one and headed to the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in Midtown Atlanta.

Let me sum it up for you: DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! margaret-mitchell-house

After the fabulous tour at The Wren’s Nest, we hoped for an equally enjoyable experience at the Margaret Mitchell House. We didn’t get it. Our tour guide was, as Ticcoa lovingly dubbed her, an “off-putting cynic.” She preached about the younger generation’s rudeness with cell phones (when we made up half her tour group and had done nothing to provoke the lecture). She tried to be “hip” and use slang that would appeal to the younger generation. She gave more history about Atlanta itself than about Mitchell’s life and writing; in fact, about half the museum was devoted to Atlanta’s most famous native son, Martin Luther King, Jr. (whom I deeply admire…but I’ve seen his house…I was there for Mitchell!). We learned very little from the 50 minute tour, actually. I learned more from reading the displays inside the lobby than from touring the apartment where Gone with the Wind was penned. And, in fact, the apartment contains absolutely no authentic artifacts from Mitchell’s life. It’s an “interpretive museum” with furniture and such from the 20s and 30s when Mitchell and her husband lived there. And after awhile, our tour guide’s attitude and abrasive voice were exhausting. We left pretty disappointed in the whole Margaret Mitchell experience.

But despite that, I had a great time with my best friends. Any day where we can be nerdy English dorks and get excited about literature is a fantastic day. If that day involves miles of driving and a superior photographer, then it’s even better. And I got to mark off my 11th item from The List. Swell. 🙂

5 thoughts on “#76: The Wren’s Nest

  1. Katherine says:

    It looks like you had a great trip! My grandfather grew up in Cedartown, GA. His grandmother knew Mitchell and he remembers going to her house for tea. That was before the publication of Gone with the Wind, but I think it is still cool. He was also at the world premier of the movie! 🙂

  2. Ticcoa says:

    I’m so glad you blogged about this day. I’m so glad we made the trip. Let’s do it again! (Minus the Mitchell part, of course.)

    Oh, and you forgot–Lain Shakespeare is also single, according to Nannie. Details, Haley! 🙂

  3. Harvin says:

    I posted reviews for both homes on Tripadvisor.com. Then I emailed the Wren’s Nest:

    “My friends and I came from Greenville, SC, to the Wren’s Nest on March 10th and can now say that we enjoyed the BEST author-home tour experience we have ever had! I wrote a review for y’all on TripAdvisor.com so that others can know what a great historic site you have to offer. Please be sure to give Nannie all the thanks and hugs she deserves for being such a wonderful tour guide; she was so friendly and had so much information to offer, that we plan to return at the semester’s close so that our fellow literati can meet her and the memory of Mr. Harris.

    We toured the Margaret Mitchell Home that afternoon as well and walked away extremely displeased and wishing we had left the best for last. Thank you again for the efforts you put into preserving the home and story of Joel Chandler Harris so that we might experience history to the fullest.”

    They should let Nannie play with the books because she was such a great tour guide! =)

  4. Harvin says:

    HA – I see you’re famous on the Wren’s Nest blog and Twitter. Nice work, Haley! What next, a new Facebook friend?

    I hope Nannie doesn’t get in trouble for pimping him (even though she still did a great job of teaching us about JCH). I don’t blame her for being honest, thoug:; he IS one heck of a chap to look at, an English major, already working for an author home… who knew such men existed?!

    I vote we go back. We just need a sly way to find out when Lain will be there. 😉

  5. Ticcoa says:

    Um, hello, Harvin–Nannie can hook us up. We’re tight, remember?

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