Do you have a special occasion coming up? An anniversary? A birthday? A much-needed time to get away and spoil yourself a little? Do you have a night or two for an outing but don’t want to drive a long distance? North Alabama and Middle Tennessee folks, I have a beautiful recommendation for you.
Blythewood Inn was constructed as a private home between 1857 and 1859. The French Colonial style residence served several prominent families well before being transformed into a bank for a number of years. Dr. and Mrs. Gordon Vire saw tremendous potential in the structure and bought it in 1994. After massive renovation and preservation work, Blythewood served as the center for Dr. Vire’s medical practice through 2007. The structure was vacant for several years, all while Mrs. Vire kept the idea of a bed and breakfast growing in her mind. Again, the building underwent renovations to get it “up to code,” then finally about a year ago, Mrs. Vire (Dinah) and her business partners finally opened as a B & B. Partner Wayne Swope is the genius behind the selection of furnishings, colors and decor, while Dinah and her daughter Gretchen (a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, renowned culinary institution) create wonderful breakfasts for the guests. In addition, they offer dinners and other food and catering type services for area clients.
Steve and I spent a wonderful night in the Magnolia Suite upstairs recently. We loved the fact that the soaring ceilings, fireplaces, floors, staircase, and most of the architectural details are still intact WHILE modern conveniences are available such as highspeed internet, air conditioning, steaming hot showers, luxurious bedding, Smart TV and soft, thirsty towels. I especially appreciated the variety of seating in our room, the abundance of electrical outlets (important for recharging devices/cameras, etc.) and the well-placed night lights. After all, you don’t want to stumble in the dark when you’re in an unfamiliar place. While basking in all the creature comforts, it is fun to imagine the stories of people who occupied those very rooms 160 years ago.
If you can negotiate the stairs, then the Magnolia is wonderful, but, if not, there are rooms downstairs as well. The Mulberry Suite, in particular, is fully equipped to be wheelchair accessible, complete with a roll-in shower. Some room configurations work well for families or groups of friends traveling together. See the website for more details on the 8 rooms at Blythewood.
Blythewood Inn has a large outdoor space that is popular for parties, wedding receptions and gatherings of all kinds and an industrial kitchen equipped to prepare full meals for large groups.
Speaking of the kitchen, breakfast at Blythewood Inn is an occasion all its own. The morning we were there breakfast started with fresh fruit topped with an edible pansy, coffee and juice. That was followed by Eggs Benedict, roasted potatoes and a croissant with homemade peach jam. For a sweet treat, we had warm strawberry bread, also homemade. We were served in the front parlor with tables for 2 or 4 guests and is also a great space for family dinners.
The larger dining room is used when the house is brimming with guests. It features a Zuber wall mural that was painted in France on paper, cut into strips, shipped to Columbia and installed in the room in 1900.
Blythewood Inn at 109 Blythewood Drive is only 45 minutes from downtown Nashville. I strongly suggest that you plan a night or more at Blythewood when you are heading to Nashville for a concert, for shopping or for a sports event. You’ll enjoy being out of the crazy traffic. And, by the way, even if you stay for several nights in a row, each morning the breakfast menu will be different, AND it will be served on a different set of china.
Make a note that the town of Columbia will host an Open House the weekend of December 7 and 8 to benefit the Historic Atheneum, an important structure that housed a girls’ school in the 1830’s. On those days, brunch, lunch and high tea will be served at Blythewood. Tickets for brunch or lunch are $25, and high tea is $15. Brunch will be served at 9:00 a.m., lunch at 11:00 and 1:00, and high tea will be at 3:00. Grab a friend and make your plans. Reservations MUST be made in advance.
Columbia hosts First Fridays in the nearby Historic Downtown, just two blocks from the President James K. Polk Home and Museum. There you will find interesting shops, four restaurants, a pie shop and an ice cream parlor. What could be better? If you have time, a visit to Rippavilla Plantation in Spring Hill is a great place to learn about the Civil War battles that took place in the area. As it happened, Rippavilla was pivotal to the action.
Plan a getaway to Columbia. It’s just right off I-65, but you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped WAY back in time.