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Skeeter is still in Greenwood, Mississippi. No, not the character played by Emma Stone in The Help, one of the most popular movies of 2011. This Skeeter is a small gray dog and she resides with Webb Franklin in his home at 613 River Road in Greenwood. The home was used as the interior of Skeeter's home.


On a recent press trip, we followed the trail of The Help and visited many of the homes used in the filming as well as places frequented by the cast and crew while they filmed n Greenwood. You can get a map at the link below and follow this fun trail on your next vacation. The homes are private residences so you will not see the insides. Please remember this and respect the owner’s privacy as you drive by or stop for a photo op at these homes. You can visit, dine or stay at many of the public places used in the Greenwood part of the filming.

Franklin home used for the interior of Skeeter's home

Skeeter’s home (interior)

Webb Franklin invited us into his home and told many of the behind the scenes stories about the filming of The Help in Greenwood Mississippi.  It’s a beautiful home and fits perfectly the description in Kathryn Stockett’s book from which the movie was made. For those of you who have only seen the movie, the book has a lot more stories and subplots but both are masterpieces. The Academy Awards nomination for Best Movie and the four Academy Awards it won plus the BET Award in 2012 for Best Picture, and that the book stayed over 100 weeks on the best seller list, confirm that.

Webb's parlor without the movie set fireplace

Webb’s home was built 1911.  He bought it 1976. When we entered, we were greeted by the four-legged Skeeter who enchanted all of us. Webb entertained us with some insider stores as he showed us his home.

Webb felt one point had a lot to do with choosing this home.  He said, “The cinematographer loved the different levels where he could put the camera.”

The upstairs bedroom in the Franklin house where many scenes with Skeeter's mother took place.

“We were evacuated my wife and I from the house for two months.  They took two weeks to move all our things out and set it up with their things. They videotaped everything down to the books on the shelf and then give you a book showing what they took away. Then when they finished shooting the film the put everything back just as they found it. They were like ants. They put everything back just where it was. It was a remarkable experience.”

The first day of shooting they brought Emma Stone to Webb’s home with her entourage of beauticians, hairdressers and all the usual Hollywood attendants that regularly accompany a big star. Webb overheard her make a statement thy exemplified the difference between Hollywood and Greenwood. “Emma Stone was talking to her hairdresser. ‘I don’t know how we’re going to make it here in Greenwood Mississippi. You know, they don’t even have a psychic in this town.’ That’s the difference between the Hollywood folks and the Greenwood folks. ”

He explained the detail the movie people went to in order to keep things accurate. “Since the Wittington house was the outside of Skeeter’s house and this was the inside and both houses were built around the same time, they took the door off of this house and put it on the Whittington house and put that door on here so when actors went in or out of the house, the correct door would show up.”

Bill Crump telling of the filming. Webb Franklin and several of the journalist are in the background

One of the thing they did to make the rooms work, was they built a fake fireplace to cover a mirror. Webb said it was so beautiful they would have liked to keep it but the movie people wouldn’t let them because of libality.

Webb telling about the pantry, Note the cabinet behind him, in the movie it
was a deep turquoise and filled with crystal glasses and silver items

Another thing they did was take all the doors off the pantry and put in items that were authentic to the 1960s; a potato chip can, old coke bottles, Breeze Detergent and lots of period items.

Webb has pictures of Skeeter’s mom applying the treatment to Skeeter’s hair to straighten it still hanging in the room where it was filmed.

The four-legged Skeeter Two of the still pictures from the movie

Skeeter’s home (exterior)

Since the script called for Skeeter to live on her family's cotton plantation, Longleaf, the movie required a different home than Webb’s which is right in town and has houses all around. They choose the Whittington home located at 7300 County Road 518 also known as Money Road.

The exterior of Skeeter's home. Lots of similarities, two stories, attic rooms and wrapping porch.

It has similarities to Franklin’s but is set in a beautiful rural setting. It was built in 1910 and originally not far from the Franklin house. The family had it cut in quarters and moved out to its present location many years ago. The bench Skeeter sits on in the movie is located in front on the street side of the driveway. The owners graciously allow visitors to drive in the driveway and take pictures of their home but be courteous and do not abuse their hospitality.

Sitting in Skeeter's bench under the willow made me feel so close to the movie

Hilly Holbrook’s House

The person everyone loved to hate in The Help was Hilly Holbrook. One of my favorite scenes is where the front lawn of this home is littered with old toilets due to Sketter’s typing “mistake” in the Junior League Newsletter when she typed “old commodes” instead of “old coats” to be dropped off at Hilly’s house. My only disappointment here was that the lawn is perfectly tended with a low boxwood hedge and not one single toilet in sight.

Can't you visulize all the old toilets sitting on this lovely lawn?

Her home in the movie was the two-story, red-brick Johnson Residence at 413 Grand Boulevard. Fitting Hilly’s personality, it is a traditional colonial that is very prim and proper looking. It shows a more modern version of the “New South” rather than the older more traditional Southern homes from the turn of the century. You can see this house perfectly from the street.

Baptist Town

We visited Baptist Town. There is a plaque near where Minnie would have gotten off the bus to go home. I never found out exactly which house was used for her home but you can see the vast social difference just visiting this site. The characters lived in two different worlds.

Baptist Town began in the 1800 and is one of Greenwood's oldest Aftican American communities

Junior League of Jackson Mississippi

The Junior League where Hilly presided over meetings and introduced her Home Health Sanitation Initiative which would require white-owned homes to have a separate toilet for the "Negro help," was the Garden Club Headquarters at 401 East Market Street.

The Garden Club is perfect for the Junior League setting.

Robert E. Lee Hotel

The Old Greenwood Elks Lodge at 102 West Washington Street was used for the interior of the hotel. The infamous scene where Celia arrives with Johnny dressed in that red dress. The exterior was the Leflore County Courthouse at 306 Market Street.

Leflore County Courthouse makes an impressive Robert E. Lee Hotel 

Bill Crump who heads Greenwood’s Economic Development Council told us an interesting story about the Old Elks Club. “I had never read the book or even heard of it. It was the Sunday before Christmas. I got a call from the Alluvian Hotel desk clerk ‘Mr. Crump, we have some people here who want to look at eh Elks Club.’ I thought they wanted to see about the new Elks Club and told the clerk to give them that number. He called back. ‘They want to see the old Elks building.’  Now it was in just shambles at this time. That was the first time I had met Tate Taylor, the director. They introduced themselves and said they were scouting for a movie location. We went through. They fell in love with that old building and decided they wanted to make Greenwood the center of the filming because of it.”

The Old Elks Club is the place that started the ball rolling 

Bill got a little insight to the importance of The Help when he got home. He told his wife what had happened. He said “She exclaimed ‘The Help!’ Apparently she had read the book and knew all about it.”

Later when Bill attended the priemer, he was gratified to have Allison Janey, who plays Skeeter's mother, come up and give him a hug in front of the theater saying, "I want you to know that I have never been anywhere in my life that I enjoyed more than Greenwood, Mississippi. All of you peoplle were absolutly fantastic."

Needless to say, The Help had a tremendous economic impact on Greenwood and the entire state. Bill also told us that Tate Taylor is planning to film his redo version of TV series In the Heat of the Night in Greenwood. I’m not a big TV fan so I haven’t heard any more about that but it would be one more reason to visit Greenwood.

Minnie’s Church

The Little Zion M.B. Church (header) on 63530 County Road 518, (Money Road) is the Baptist Church featured in the movie. It is also the location of the graveyard where Robert Johnson, the Bluesman who allegedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a great guitar player, is buried.

Suite at the Alluvian note the artwork and   the champagne at the bedside 

Two movie hotspots we visited that not featured in the movie but frequented by cast and crew were The Alluvian and the Delta Bistro. The Alluvian is owned by the Viking Range manufactures. They bought the historic Irving Hotel and did a fantastic job or turning it into luxury lodging. They did a great job; the Alluvian was on Conde Nast Traveler Gold List in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Many of the cast and crew stayed here.

The lobby of the Alluvian  The bar at the Alluvian 

We did a tour and I was impressed with the art collection. I especially loved the Delta Dog Trot: Landscape Askew West by Bill Dunlap in in the lobby. Each room has sketches related to the Delta done by Mississippi artists.

We also enjoyed a great all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast. I can vouch that this is not your typical motel continental breakfast.

The cast loved the tapas plates and atmosphere at Delta Bistro  

When we had dinner at the Delta Bistro, I understood why so many of the Hollywood people dined there while shooting in Greenwood. The food was great and the atmosphere vey modern.

 A salad and dessert at the Delta Bistro

You can visit these sites and more. It will make a unique vacation especially coupled with all the other fun things in Greenwood. The Winery at Williams Landing is one of the few in Mississippi and I believer, the only licensed winery in the Delta. I fell in love with his unusual Fig Wine. There are two museums you want to visit; Museum of the Mississippi Delta,  Back in the Day Museum on Young Street, that covers the history of the blues, Baptist Town and African American culture in the Delta.

The music trail marker for Bobby Gentry at the Tallahatche Bridge 

For amateur chefs, you can take a class at Viking Cooking School. History or Blues buffs could follow the trail of Robert Johnson’s or Emmitt Till’s untimely deaths along Money Road not far from Skeeter’s plantation home. Then you can visit the Tallahatchie River Bridge. There is a marker near the bridge for Bobby Gentry, a Greenwood native. Shame Billy Joe didn’t throw Hilly off the bridge. But then there would have been no movie and a few less reasons to visit Greenwood.

 

For more info:

The Help Driving Tour: http://www.greenwoodms.org/pdfs/the-help-map.pdf

Greenwood CVB http://www.greenwoodms.com/

 

 


 

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