In the Heat of the Night

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Just a fan

Clifton, TN

#1 Jun 12, 2010
Hello. I visited Covington today. I am a big fan of the tv series, In the Heat of the Night. We took the self guided tour. I was kinda hoping for more film sites, but it was pretty good. I noticed the former site of Gillespi's home and the big white mansion, and the Tibbs' home all were for sale. I was just curious about these places. Have they been vacant since the end of the show? Why are they just being let go? Just curious!!! Anything you locals could tell me about the show there would be great!!! Do you know what happened to all the props, vehicles, etc. that was used on the show?
Rick in Florida

Plant City, FL

#2 Jun 13, 2010
We visited Covington in the late 1990's and some of the Sparta Police uniforms , badges and such were for sale at a couple of businesses there. SOme larger props like the "Sparta Police Department" signs I was curious myself about what happened to them; they may be have been stored at the sound stage location where the interiors of the Sparta Police Dept. were done. When we were there the building used as the police dept. was the Newton County Library but nowadays I think a business is there across from the large Methodist church.
Just a fan

Clifton, TN

#3 Jun 13, 2010
Thanks! We should have parked at the square and walked around the stores and shops. I was really nice to see everything in person. But like I said, all the houses are vacant and running down bad. The Chief's house was practically falling to pieces. It's sad. They must not have enough interest or you would think the city would by the homes, sites and keep them in good shape. So, the scenes at the police dept. weren't actually filmed in the actual building? What about Chief's home and Virgil's? Where the scenes filmed inside them homes? If they were, they should fix them up and let people tour inside.
Rick in Florida

Plant City, FL

#4 Jun 14, 2010
That is a shame the homes are run down; you'd think they would be lived in by now--I know the economy hit that area like it has done everywhere else. Homes like those are usually kind of expensive especially in upkeep and all and the city probably cannot afford to do that. When we were there last in about 8 or 9 years ago the Tibbs house was a real estate office as I remember as was the building used as the Magnolia Cafe. The scenes of the Sparta Police Dept. could not be filmed inside the building for the simple fact it was a library. Most of the filming inside the homes was done inside the actual house I understand. In visiting there in 1994 or 1995 we watched them film scenes for the last episode of the series that just aired last week on WGN. It was the wedding reception party outside that large white columned house. We saw Carroll O'Connor and Alan Autry walking around and plenty of technicians, lights, reflectors, camera, etc. They did let traffic pass by slowly but we parked and watched for 20 minutes or so--filming is actually kind of a slow process. There were quite a number of watchers that day. Did you see the old mill just outside of town used in several episodes?--its now a building of loft apartments I understand. The main place for getting souvenirs at that time was White's Appliances, the first building up from the libary (Sparta Police Dept); I think they are out of business now unfortunately. The old red building (Sheriff's Dept.) was interesting--it's actually the old Covingon City Jail--guess you ran across that building about block or so behind the courthouse. Covington is an interesting place--fell in love with it on the show, then in person. It's used now on Vampire Diaries as a New England locale but thats such a dreary, dark, dull series they rarely feature the town. Hope to get back there myself one day--maybe they'll have those old homes occupied by then.
Just a fan

Clifton, TN

#5 Jun 14, 2010
Awesome details, Rick. After I seen the white columned in person, I quickly noticed that several scenes where shot there and not always portrayed as they were there. The Tibbs' home had a For Rent sign in the window. The large white columned house was in the best shape. It appeared maybe someone had lived there recently. But Chief's home was what suprised me. It is in awful shape. There was old mattresses and junk piled beside the front door. I wish I could have visited there when it was being filmed. What a joy it would have been to have seen O'Connor in person. You can tell the town is losing some of its steam. There was so much run down and a lot of homes for sale. Hopefully, it will build back up. Maybe they will get a good show going there again. It would be cool to have a years later movie for the show kinda like they done with the Walton's. But sadly, a bunch of the cast is dead. Do you know where David Hart is now? I can't find much about him on the net. No pics of him now or anything. I appreciate your info! Keep it coming!! I took several pics when I was at Covington this weekend.
Rick in Florida

Plant City, FL

#6 Jun 15, 2010
If you watch the show daily on WGN you might notice thay started the series over Monday with the episodes filmed at the beginning in Hammond, louisiana, near New Orleans on I-10. The first 8 episodes were done there, the ones that aired starting March 1988 (Heat was a mid-season replacement). I understand that Hammond did not cooperate with the producers and crew very well and O'Connor and the other execs of the show decided on Covington as the filming location starting with season 2 and "Don't Look Back." Besides, there was a sound stage in Covington where needed interiors could be filmed. I'm glad they picked Covington; downtown Hammond LA just did not have it. You can't beat Covington and its courthouse and square.
Just a fan

Clifton, TN

#7 Jun 15, 2010
Where was the sound stage located?
Dirk D

Bridgewater, NJ

#8 Jun 15, 2010
Just a fan wrote:
Where was the sound stage located?
The soundstage was located on Hazelbrand Road in a industrial warehouse, if you go down hwy. 278 and turn left at the Sonic's restaurant coming from the square go up about half a mile and it will be on the left actually they leased two buildings for their soundstages and when they weren't on location they kept all of the filming trucks and equipment there as well, it's really not much to look at just some buildings in an industrial area.
Just a fan

Clifton, TN

#9 Jun 15, 2010
thanks Dirk. Can you tell me about the homes? Why are they vacant and running down. Kinda weird that noone has preserved them. What can you tell me about the filming of the show in that town. THANKS
skippyTheKlingon

Peoria, IL

#10 Jun 18, 2010
Just a fan wrote:
Hello. I visited Covington today. I am a big fan of the tv series, In the Heat of the Night. We took the self guided tour. I was kinda hoping for more film sites, but it was pretty good. I noticed the former site of Gillespi's home and the big white mansion, and the Tibbs' home all were for sale. I was just curious about these places. Have they been vacant since the end of the show? Why are they just being let go? Just curious!!! Anything you locals could tell me about the show there would be great!!! Do you know what happened to all the props, vehicles, etc. that was used on the show?
Tibbs' home is now for sale? Last I knew it was a law office. They used to house the vehicles at a nearby car dealership. Didn't you get to speak to the locals? I'm sure they have all kinds of info.
Dirk D

Bridgewater, NJ

#11 Jun 19, 2010
Just a fan wrote:
thanks Dirk. Can you tell me about the homes? Why are they vacant and running down. Kinda weird that noone has preserved them. What can you tell me about the filming of the show in that town. THANKS
The economy has a lot to do with it, during better times most of the homes used during filming were occupied by residents or business', now 14 years later the economy tanked and some of the business' closed shop and a lot of the homes were put on the market and the city couldn't buy them because they are in a bind themselves, I don't think the residents would take to kindly being asked to pay higher taxes and then the city goes and buy a house with the money.
skippyTheKlingon

Peoria, IL

#12 Jun 19, 2010
Dirk D wrote:
<quoted text>
The economy has a lot to do with it, during better times most of the homes used during filming were occupied by residents or business', now 14 years later the economy tanked and some of the business' closed shop and a lot of the homes were put on the market and the city couldn't buy them because they are in a bind themselves, I don't think the residents would take to kindly being asked to pay higher taxes and then the city goes and buy a house with the money.
Hey Dirk... were you a Covington resident when they filmed HEAT there, or do you have some other relation to the show?
Dirk D

United States

#13 Jun 20, 2010
skippyTheKlingon wrote:
<quoted text>
Hey Dirk... were you a Covington resident when they filmed HEAT there, or do you have some other relation to the show?
Actually I live in Covington, I'm 31 now and have lived here all my life, I was like 9 or 10 when they were filming and I would see them filming all of the time, I can actually say that In the Heat of The Night did a lot of good things for Covington behind the scenes, they bought and donated a sound system for the square that is still used to this day, they held fundraisers for the local police dept. where the Covington Police played the Sparta Police Dept. actors in basketball, softball or whatever they felt like, they bought everything they needed for the show in Covington if it was available here from the local merchants, the actors actually got out and mingled with the locals, they never acted Hollywood while they were here, they came to the local schools and gave speeches to the students, I remember asking Anne-Marie Johnson when she visited my school at Cousins Middle how much she made and she politly changed the subject, Having Heat film here versus The Vampire Diaries film here or any of the several other movies filmed in Covington and Heat wins hands down, the movie most residents complained about was "Remember The Titans", they shut down one side of he square for a whole week, where as Heat did 2 days at a time and The Vampire Diaries does two days and three at the most, When Heat filmed it's last episode here it was like a loved one died, people became good friends with some of the actors and from my understanding to the ones I talk to still keep in touch with them, well the ones still living anyway.
Dirk D

United States

#14 Jun 20, 2010
Please excuse my typo's as I am falling asleep as I type.
Dirk D

United States

#15 Jun 20, 2010
skippyTheKlingon wrote:
<quoted text>
Hey Dirk... were you a Covington resident when they filmed HEAT there, or do you have some other relation to the show?
If the Butler Ohio location threw you off, that pops up when I use my Verizon broadband usb for some reason.
skippyTheKlingon

Peoria, IL

#16 Jun 21, 2010
Dirk... it is great to read your stories here. It is so unfortunate that three of the actors of the show passed on. I'm not much older than you (36) and have followed that program from the beginning. I do want to know... when they filmed at the Square (and also up the road on Monticello at the "PD") did they actually shut down the Square entirely? Did they cut off all traffic leading into the Square, and if so, how did this affect the businesses there and peoples daily way of life? Must not have hurt too badly for it to have been a routine for so many years.
Dirk D

Bridgewater, NJ

#17 Jun 21, 2010
skippyTheKlingon wrote:
Dirk... it is great to read your stories here. It is so unfortunate that three of the actors of the show passed on. I'm not much older than you (36) and have followed that program from the beginning. I do want to know... when they filmed at the Square (and also up the road on Monticello at the "PD") did they actually shut down the Square entirely? Did they cut off all traffic leading into the Square, and if so, how did this affect the businesses there and peoples daily way of life? Must not have hurt too badly for it to have been a routine for so many years.
No they didn't shut down the whole square just the section they were filming in, downtown Covington has a somewhat grid layout so whatever street they closed for filming they rerouted traffic to the next street one block over and it really wasn't an inconvenience, like I said in a previous post Heat bought lots of stuff from local merchants for filming and if their business was affected by that days filming the producers compensated the owners, now I don't know how much they paid them but i know a lady that got paid $150 just to let them run a extension cord to her house for them to use a circular saw for two hours to cut some plyboards to use in a house for filming, also if they did interior scenes in your house they would pay you and paint the interior for free, have you ever noticed in the show how good the paint looks on the walls inside of the homes they used in the show even the homes in the bottoms.
skippyTheKlingon

Peoria, IL

#18 Jun 21, 2010
Back in 1993, I was visiting friends in Conyers. My friend came home one day and said, "Hey, I saw them filming while at the courthouse today." He went to different courthouses during the day to do research. Yeah, I've heard that the actors were friendly and often seen patronizing different places. I was told that Alan Autry liked to frequent Shoney's. This is also the time I heard about Howard Rollins' drug problems. I knew someone who had a job at an answering service that had stories. Part of her job was to give many of them their wake-up call per their request. I also read somewhere that the show had a yard sale in July of 1994 selling everything from the set. How cool that would have been to acquire some of that stuff!
Just a fan

Clifton, TN

#19 Jun 22, 2010
Awesome details!!! It sounds like the characters were just as friendly in person as in the show... I wonder how Carroll was in person??? Did you ever get to meet him, Dirk D?
Dirk D

Bridgewater, NJ

#20 Jun 24, 2010
Just a fan wrote:
Awesome details!!! It sounds like the characters were just as friendly in person as in the show... I wonder how Carroll was in person??? Did you ever get to meet him, Dirk D?
I saw him up close as we would watch while they filmed from a distance and in between takes he would come and talk to the bystanders but as i was only 9 or 10 at the time I really didn't have too much to say for conversation, my main thing was wondering how much they got paid, he would take pictures or sign autographs if you wanted one but I wasn't into that at the time.

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