A few years ago, PBS aired a special segment where they visited Andy Griffith‘s hometown and The Andy Griffith Show star’s museum.
For those that may not know, wholesome Mayberry is a real town – sort of. Andy Griffith based Mayberry off of his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The quiet little mountain town lies in a central northern area of the state close to the Virginia border. For huge fans of The Andy Griffith Show, visiting Mount Airy is a necessary pilgrimage.
PBS’s North Carolina division visited the quaint little town back in 2018. The outlet took the town’s famous Andy Griffith tour, which visits the home the actor resided in from 1935 to 1966. The tour takes you to what is now a playhouse named after him, but originally was Rockford Street Elementary School. This is where Griffith first performed as a third grader. It’s also the home of a statue of Andy Taylor and his TV son Opie (Ron Howard) walking along with their fishing poles.
Right next door is the Andy Griffith Museum where tons of related memorabilia are displayed. The actor’s childhood friend Emmett Forrest began collecting his friend’s memorabilia decades earlier. He began sharing that collection with the public in the ’90s. But in 2009, Forrest helped build a permanent home for The Andy Griffith Show actor’s collection.
Some of the highlights of the museum include the tan Mayberry sheriff’s shirt Griffith personally wore on the show in the ’60s. In addition, they have Barney Fife’s (Don Knotts) actual salt and pepper suit. They also have Otis Campbell’s (Hal Smith) jacket and original straw hat.
The museum has items every The Andy Griffith Show fan will recognize, while also having plenty of obscure items you’ll likely see for the first time. Classic TV fans won’t want to miss it if they have a chance to visit.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Cancels Proposed Idea for Barney Fife Statue
As previously mentioned, The Andy Griffith Show characters Andy and Opie have a joint statue beside Griffith’s old elementary school. However, when it came to a possible statue for Andy’s sidekick Barney Fife, Griffith didn’t allow it.
When Don Knotts passed away in February 2006, two fans wanted to honor the actor’s career. Since the fans were from Mount Airy, they figured they’d commission a life-size bronze statue of Barney Fife. Further, they wanted to place it beside the Andy and Opie statue. Although the idea seemed decent and like the statues could pair well, Griffith didn’t care for it.
According to author Daniel de Visé’s book Andy and Don, The Andy Griffith Show‘s main character was none too pleased when he heard about the possible statue. The author says Griffith “wanted the statue nipped in the bud.” In fact, he went as far as calling Knott’s widow to request that she not give her blessing for the statue’s creation.
It’s not entirely clear why Griffith didn’t want the project to go forward. It may have something to do with Mount Airy being his own hometown and not Knotts. Regardless, Griffith did convince Knotts’ wife to shelve the idea. However, in 2016, Knotts did eventually get his own statue in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia.