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

Dual enrollment, educational opportunities up in Coweta

The number of students participating in dual enrollment at the University of West Georgia Newnan campus has quadrupled since last year, acco ... Read More


Family displaced by Katrina chose Georgia as new home

Over the decades, thousands upon thousands of Louisiana residents have witnessed flooding and damage from hurricanes that have trampled the ... Read More


Old school spy plane

U-2 being used in war against ISIS

When the U-2 plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, American leaders began pushing for a move awa ... Read More


Officers make meth bust

Two men are facing felony charges after attempting to sell a half ounce of crystal methamphetamine to undercover agents on Wednesday. Rodney ... Read More


Most famous U-2 pilot married in Newnan

When Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union – while flying a U-2 spy plane – in 1960, there was quite a bit of ... Read More

Over $3,000 stolen in Dollar General robbery

Authorities are on the lookout after two men stole over $3,000 from a Dollar General store in Haralson overnight. According to Lt. Col James ... Read More