Calling Fans of “In the Heat of the Night” TV Show & “My Cousin Vinny” Movie

Even though I’ve always lived in the South – there is something special about the air when you are away from the coast during the summer’s heat. I know this year is supposed to be the hottest ever, but a Southern summer day seems the same as always to me. Air so thick with humidity you feel like you could spread it on a biscuit, clothes glued to your body, and a sweaty scalp giving a new “lift” to your hair. And let’s not forget the no-see-ums prickling the back of your neck.

In spite of the inhospitable weather, sounds of crickets in trees, scents from fragrant flowers, glorious colors of crepe myrtle trees in full bloom, and the shiny dark leaves of massive magnolia trees somehow convey a sense of comfort to me.

Add in some history, and I’m a happy traveler.

This week, we have landed in the “Hollywood of the South” – Covington, Georgia. A picturesque slice of Americana just outside Atlanta.

To help us get in the mood, we checked into an 1836 antebellum mansion, repurposed as an elegant B&B. Covington has rare pre-Civil War homes because it was one of three towns spared burning during Sherman’s march through Georgia.

In 1939, Margaret Mitchell saw an article in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution featuring the renovated home. She dictated it be used in the movie adaptation of her novel Gone with the Wind as Ashley’s home “Twelve Oaks.” A team working on the movie visited the home, noting every detail, which was painted on glass panels used during filming to depict the manse. In 2018, as a nod to the home’s supporting role in Gone with the Wind, the name was changed from “Whitehall” to “Twelve Oaks.”

There have been dozens of TV series, movies, commercials, and videos filmed here, going back to 1954. They are probably most famous for the 8-season run of The Vampire Diaries, but we go back another generation to the 7-year run of the series In the Heat of the Night, starring the iconic Carroll O’Connor. The series ran from 1988-1995 and is readily found among today’s cable offerings. Both series had some notable scenes filmed at “Twelve Oaks.”

Although set in the fictional Mississippi town of Sparta, a couple of years ago we had researched where the series was filmed while watching a re-run. That’s when we discovered Covington. While visiting, it was fun to spot so many familiar sights, most looking pretty much the same as on TV. We took a 2-hour tour with Main Street Trolleys that moved us around town efficiently and also introduced us to a lot of insights about all the vampires who roamed the region from 2009-2017.

A few other well-known projects filmed in town included Footloose, Halloween II, Sweet Home Alabama, Dukes of Hazzard, Remember the Titans, Hallmark’s Christmas Everlasting, Sweet Magnolias, and another favorite of ours – My Cousin Vinny. Starring Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, and Fred Gwynne, this 1992 comedy-drama is a must-see.

Scenes for Vinny were mostly around the Covington Town Square, but about 25 minutes away we found the spot for one of the movie’s most significant scenes – at the Sac-O-Suds (a real place). This was the site of the robbery and murder the entire movie plot revolved around. Apparently, the store was closed for a few years but is now open. We went in to get a soda (machine broken) and were greeted by a large black guard dog (he was behind a gate) and a pistol-packing cashier. Somehow, we came out of there with lottery tickets, something I think we’ve only ever bought once before.

Now has a river rafting concession.

We’ll look for Covington locations on Apple TV’s new show The Big Door Prize produced by David West Read of Schitt’s Creek fame. We heard they filmed some in Covington, although most was filmed in nearby Loganville.

Stay tuned . . .

The very photogenic Covington courthouse is seen in many films and series.

9 Comments on “Calling Fans of “In the Heat of the Night” TV Show & “My Cousin Vinny” Movie

  1. We may have to go there. Sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. I have never heard of this town before now. Wow – I’ve got to see it in person and soak in all of its Southern charm as well as see some of the made-famous-by-movie-and-TV sites. Thank you for sharing this gorgeous town with us!

  3. All that!!!! A lot happening in Covington.
    Interesting stuff.

  4. Thanks for the great article and thanks to General Sherman for sparing Covington!

  5. Had never heard of Covington Georgia but as a movie fanatic this would be right up my street. Hollywood of the South, indeed. Great article and yes, My Cousin Vinny remains something of an underrated gem even after all these years.

  6. We were so close in Monroe! We have to take some time for sightseeing next trip!

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