|by Anne Butler|
Laurie Fisher, 15 at the time, lived just across the road from Greenwood. He vividly remembers that a rare and violent cool front passed through that evening, with the worst lightning he’d ever seen in his life. “Lightning struck all over that Greenwood hill,” he recalls. He had been clipping pastures, but hurriedly drove in from the field, turned on a heater and pulled his big 12-pound cat onto his lap to warm up.
The evening of August 1, the elderly Percys were enjoying a visit from a young grandson, Jimmy Lathrop. He would be the first to spot the reflection of the flames in the pond and sound the alarm.
By morning, there was nothing left of Greenwood but the brick columns and several forlorn chimneys stark against the sky. Laurie says the embers from the fire stayed hot for 10 whole days. “We never felt the world was the same after such an enormous tragedy,” he says today, his voice still tinged with sadness.
Guided by vintage films and photographs, tattered magazine features and fading family recollections, the Barnes spent some 20 years reconstructing the home as close as possible to the original. Today it once again welcomes visitors for tours, overnight stays in a detached B&B structure across the reflecting pond, corporate workshops and functions, beautiful weddings and social events. Hollywood has returned as well, with such films as Louisiana, both parts of North and South, and Sister, Sister using Greenwood as a setting for memorable scenes.