Watsons Go To Birmingham

Newnan streets close for Hallmark film about church bombing

by Sarah Fay Campbell

alt

Sarah Fay Campbell

Newnan Presbyterian Church stood in for Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church for Thursday’s filming of “The Watsons Go to Birmingham.” Here a movie crew prepares for a scene for the Hallmark channel production.

Newnan Presbyterian Church on Greenville Street in downtown Newnan stood in for Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church Thursday during filming of the Hallmark television movie “The Watsons Go to Birmingham.”

Filming will return to downtown Sunday and large portions of parking in downtown Newnan normally used by churchgoers will be blocked off Sunday morning.

Intermittent road closures will occur during filming, but no on-street parking will be allowed in the area because the movie is set in 1963, and period cars will be parked on the street.

Parking closures will begin around 7:30 Sunday morning. Closures include both sides of North Court Square, the south side of East and West Washington Streets for one block off the square, and both sides of Greenville Street near Spring Street.

North Court Square and East and West Washington Street parking should open around 12:30 or 1 p.m., according to Location Manager Dodd Vickers. Greenville Street parking should open by mid-afternoon. Movie crews will then move to Sprayberry’s Barbecue for the rest of the local filming.

Two areas in downtown Newnan were used Thursday for the filming of some pivotal scenes in the movie — the infamous bombing of the church by four KKK members. The bombing killed four girls, injured many others, and marked a turning point in the Civil Rights movement.

Newnan Presbyterian bears an uncanny resemblance to 16th Street Baptist.

“It’s amazing. What a find that was for us,” said Executive Producer Tonya Lewis Lee, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, based on the book of the same name.

A built set on the corner of East Broad Street and Perry Street beside the Coweta County Administration Building was used Thursday afternoon for filming of the aftermath of the bombing. There were smashed cars with broken glass arrayed on Perry Street, as well as a vintage fire engine, for the filming of people running to the bombing site and carrying away the injured.

Sunday’s downtown filming will be some “walking and talking scenes,” said Lee, and Sprayberry’s will be used as a lunch counter.

“Newnan was a great find,” said Lee, who is the wife of director Spike Lee.

“We kind of stumbled upon it at the last minute, but it really has proven to be a really great find and, I think, a wonderful substitute for us for Birmingham.”



More Local

Lawyer speaks about Holloway’s arrest

The attorney for former Evans Middle School chorus teacher Johnny Holloway, D. Scott Cummins, said his client may have made mistakes but car ... Read More


Coweta Suicide Statistics

Women more likely to take own lives

Editor’s note: This article is a result of the Times-Herald’s focus in recent days on suicide and depression following the death ... Read More


Off-duty deputy injured in motorcycle accident

An off-duty Coweta County deputy was badly injured in a motorcycle accident in Luthersville Tuesday evening, and he is now being treated and ... Read More


Suspects arrested on I-85 for credit card fraud

Three people suspected of being involved in a credit card fraud ring were arrested Tuesday by Grantville authorities after they were stopped ... Read More


Grantville Police

Chief seeks fresh image for department

Javier Garcia is on a mission to restore credibility to the Grantville Police Department. The recently appointed police chief spoke to the c ... Read More

More traffic, intoxicated drivers expected for Labor Day weekend

For the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, which is one of the most traveled weekends of the year, Georgia State Patrol troopers will be ma ... Read More