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Built in the 1840s along the banks of the Cane River, the structure once known as the Taylor-Cook House originally served as a store and is thought to have been a hospital during the Civil War.In 1900, it was moved several hundred yards from its riverfront location to the street where it now stands, and for decades it was a private residence.“At the time, I don’t think the Piggly Wiggly had ever stocked caviar. “I’ve had twenty-five years to think about this,” Harling says.I still laugh at one grocer’s observation: ‘If it hadn’t been for [director] Herbert Ross, I’d never have known the difference between Osetra and Beluga.’” In the quarter century since filming wrapped, the movie has become a Southern classic. “The story is true, and despite its very specific setting, the dynamic is universal. The characters are witty and real; their dialogue is lifted from life.She’ll take you past the private homes where the cast lived during filming and the house that served as Truvy’s Beauty Spot (she’ll even swing you by the local salon where the original sign now hangs).She’ll point out Aunt Fern’s home and escort you through American Cemetery, scene of the film’s climactic graveside scene, before paying a visit to the adjacent Susan Harling Robinson Memorial Garden.When location scouts saw the beautiful historic home—and its large trees and swimming pool, which were essential to the plot—they chose it as the Eatenton family home, where Shelby lived with her brothers and parents M’Lynn and Drum (played by Sally Field and Tom Skerritt); many of the movie’s most memorable scenes were filmed here.In 2003, the home was transformed into a bed and breakfast, and last fall Don and Desiree Dyess—owners of Maison Louisiane, a beautiful bed and breakfast just two houses down the street—purchased and renovated the property.
But for the diehard fan, there’s only one game in town: The Steel Magnolia House.Visitors can count on plenty of Steel Magnolias memorabilia—from costume sketches to behind-the-scenes photos—and can choose from six suites named for movie characters.Of course, they can also reminisce about favorite scenes shot on the property, like Ouiser’s serving of the legendary armadillo groom’s cake in the garage out back.An outstanding local restaurant on the banks of Lake Sibley, The Mariner became the Spago of Natchitoches, says Harling.“Everyone was there.” “I remember the managers of the grocery stores marveling at all the special requests made by the ‘movie people,’” he says.