Taragate–A Gone with the Wind Scandal? Not exactly.

If you were to drive south on I-77 and exit onto Arrowood Road in Charlotte, North Carolina, you would eventually run across a development called “Taragate Farms.”  I had no idea it existed until recently, when I was invited to have dinner at a home in the neighborhood.

At first, I didn’t think too much about the sign that sets out in front announcing one is entering “Taragate.”  However, as I followed directions on my Garmin I started noticing street names.  Driving down “Scarlett Circle” my eyes were alerted to themes of Gone with the Wind and the Old South. In the same neighborhood, just off of Scarlett Circle is “Rhett Court” and “Rice Planters Road.”  “Julep Lane” intersects with “Pitty Pat Court.”  “Antebellum Drive” is just off of “Johnny Reb Lane,” and “Sherman Drive” (appropriately) crosses over “O’Hara Drive.”

Well, of course, I had to investigate.  It turns out that sometime in the 1980s, Ryan Homes created Taragate and, hold on to your hoop skirts, “Twelve Oaks”–two neighboring housing developments in an area that is so far south of the city, one might call it the Deep South of Charlotte.

I have no idea to whom they were marketing these neighborhoods twenty-five years ago, but today the residents reflect a far more diverse population than one would expect to be living in a development with attachments to the Old South or Gone with the Wind.  Indeed, my dinner hosts were African American, and their neighbors were both white and Asian.

On the one hand I was impressed by the extended marketing reach of the novel and the film, such that in the 1980s developers wanted to “recreate” Tara and Twelve Oaks.  Yet,  I also wondered what my dinner hosts thought about it–you know, with references to plantations and all.  But while I was fascinated, they seemed unfazed.

Clearly, Gone with the Wind has lost some of its relevance, despite the big 75th anniversary celebrations of the book going on this year.  Today, however, neither the book nor the film does the kind of damage it once did to the progress of race relations in the United States, even though the portrayals of African Americans remain offensive.  Although people around the globe will be commemorating Margaret Mitchell’s tome on the Old South in 2011, at Taragate and Twelve Oaks there will be folks wondering what the fuss is all about.

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3 thoughts on “Taragate–A Gone with the Wind Scandal? Not exactly.

  1. Hi. (Or should that be “Hey!” ?) I heard you on Charlotte Talks this morning. Good stuff. You mentioned Taragate Farms, but I was at work and couldn’t comment at the time. I grew up in Steele Creek and Taragate and Twelve Oaks back right up to my family’s properties. (Parents, grandparents, aunt – it’s a Southern thing, right?) From your blog post on the developments, I get the impression you think they date to the 1980’s. Actually, they went up in the mid-to-late 1970’s; I remember my school bus from junior high school going through Taragate. I do, however, remember what was there before: Sandy Porter’s property, a lot of broomstraw and scrubby cedar trees, and the house where the woman who did some housecleaning work for my grandparents lived. Her name was Johnnie Mae. Just for-what-it’s worth info. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks, Bill. I think that I found the date of the Taragate development as the 1980s somewhere on the web. The homes look late ’70s early ’80s in construction. Thanks for listening in!

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