Thistletop Inn B&B
Mr. Dixon a contractor who lent ideas to home building with advanced intellect created a signature style by integrating antiquity and artifacts from all over the world as mainstays in his some 50 plus homes. His style in the words of Marty Stuart "the closest thing this part of the country has to Frank Lloyd Wright".
Integrated in this suite is 200 year old rock and barn siding from a farm in Kentucky.
The Taos Suite
It's angular formation boasts a textural foundation rock wall, barn board siding, and exposed cypress and pine beams.
This comfortable and cozy family space was next to the Taos Suite where we watched a couple of movies. A comedy similar to Airplane and a conspiracy murder mystery with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. This room also contained a full dining table that easily seated eight as well as a unique half bath implementing a rock slab to hold bowl sink. You could definitely imagine yourself in a majestic mountain setting on the slopes of a Colorado ski resort in this home.
The dogwood are just about past their peak.
Lenora, Janice and I took a leisurely walk around the property to take it in. It felt good after sitting in the car for the few hours.
Here I am with Janice. It was a good place to think of the next day's activiites.
Another view of the home. As you can see, the lay of the land is rolling hills.
Loved this little hand crafted sweetie.
The home also included touches with distinctive western flavor. Indian collections, artifacts and decor could carry your imagination elsewhere to a well loved ranch in the Shenandoah Valley.
View of the home entering the drive.
http://www.thistletopinn.com/ for more of this wonderful home by the owners, Fred and Mary Jane Pearce.
After a stroll we traveled into nearby Riverside to eat dinner at Chef's Mkt., caterers to the stars and Governor's events. I had a tasty Irish pot roast, hicama cole slaw and sweet tea.
The owners, Fred and Mary Jane turned the upstairs of this carriage house barn into a small apartment as another option to staying on the property. Very cute. This was rented for the week by guests.
The owners Fred and Mary Jane spoke of Mr. Dixon and his wife Maryanne with praised admiration and friendship. They shared a few facts about the house.
The front double doors were retrieved from an old stage coach station. A stained glass window of thistle and rose pattern from a demolished convent in Kentucky graces an area with colored beautiful light from the sun's rays. Exposed beams of cypress and pine from an Indiana train station are used as if they were originally intended to be there.
Mr. Dixon's iconic list of purchasers of his homes included Johnny and June Carter Cash.
The home was chosen in 2009 by Lionsgate Productions for Epix to film a television series. "Tough Trade" , a story about 3 dysfunctional generations of country music legends.
Beloved home of Johnny and June Carter Cash
Built in 1968, Mr. Dixon planned to build this home for himself on the banks of Old Hickory Lake. It however caught the eye of Johnny Cash and he persuaded Mr. Dixon to sell it to him.
Johnny and June called this their home of solitude and sanctuary as cacooned protection from the ways of the world for 35 years.
This home has opened it's doors to guests such as President's, singers and songwriters, friends and family
Jimmy Carter, Billy Graham, Kris Kristopherson landed a helicopter here once to get Johnny to listen to a tape of a song he had just finished. Do you remember listening to "Sunday Morning Coming Down" on the radio? His son-in-law, Marty Stuart lived next door with his wife Connie Smith and on and on. Tragically the home burned to the ground after being purchased by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gee's to be restored to it's original splendor and appreciated by his family as a getaway from their Miami, FL residence.
Tammy Wnynette, Roy Orbison, Marty Stuart and Trisha Yearwood lived in his homes.
Contractor, Braxton Dixon and wife Maryanne
A Vermont barn Mr. Dixon is refurbishing and creating into a new lived existance.
The thing that impressed me most is that these old doors open and close with the ease of any new installation, yet they are worn and weathered with age.
They fit perfectly in their new destination just as they would the day they were installed in their original place.
The crafts of our elders will never be the same. How amazing to have it incorporated in new construction to be appreciated and concerved.
Eighty eight +, Mr. Dixon is still very involved in constructing great examples of unique architecture.
He doesn't have a book of his homes and experiences. He didn't have a time line when building for his clients nor restricted expense account or even stick to any certain set of plans. He knew what was needed as he went along in it's transformation. How nice to have it here in blog form as collected information to enjoy, remember and reflect upon.
The next morning after being served breakfast by Fred who is also the chef for the Inn. The menu included:
Spinach Quiche Casserole
Home Fry style potato
Mary Jane, the owner, knew we had a gardening mission and suggested the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for it's immense atrium filled with lush trees and plantings as well as Cheekwood Gardens and Museum of Art previously the home of the Maxwell House coffee fortune. So we headed into the city.
Inside the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.
Beautifully classic white trimmed with black wrought iron balconies and streaming with light and plants in abundance.
One can take a scenic boat ride inside the facility on this integrated waterway.
We collected a few pamphlets and decided we might enjoy taking in the Grand Ole' Opry back stage tour. It was close within walking distance and a tour conveniently was within a reasonable time at ll:00.
I enjoy seeing what collections catch the eye of others. I noticed a beautiful arrangement of crosses on display on his wall.
Lots of star sparkle!
With so much legacy here, it's hard to imagine that at one time this had all been under four feet of water from the devistation that hurricane Katrina embarked on the south. A story was told that employees took small boats through it's corridors to retrieve all the many photos of entertainers on the walls above the water line.
Now it's restored and handsomely decorated. Notice-there are no closets or private facilities. That's how it began and they maintained the same philosophy. Entertainers are assigned a room according to the size of their party. They bring their own necessities to rehearse.
The Women of Country
The ladies of country have access to a pretty room to rehearse and await their call to stage.
At one point our guide was in the midst of a flood story and I being at the farthest end from her, turned to glance at photos on the wall behind me. I thought to myself how old they were. Then I really began to take closer inspection of a photo in particular and our guide's words faded to murmuring as I leaned in to inspect the photo of a group of entertainers.
A lot of personality going on here! Some are being real "characters" while others are there because they had a discovered talent.
When I was young, about 6-until I left home at 18, I can recall the low mellow cruning of my Dad singing in very early mornings. Relaxed in his recliner, he played his years old Gibson guitar which always sat in it's rightful spot in the corner, Hypnotic tunes of "dear mother", "little white washed chimney", "somebody loves you", "when the moon shines down upon the mountain", "tie me to your apron strings again", "maple on the hill", "memories", "we've come a long way together", and one of my favorites, "silver haired daddy", all of which were titles to songs he knew and sang. He wrote each of them in a small pocket notebook so as not to forget.
Dad's notebook of songs written in his 3rd grade educated cursive handwriting.
This book was in one of the drawers of a wooden tool box that I kept from the sale of he and Mom's belongings.
By then his fingers began to feel the arthritic nag and stiffness that time slowly slipped in. But he never lost what I thought was a musical passtime. Upon his death several years ago as we were preparing arrangements, I requested the desire to my brothers and sister to play music of his time and style. I didn't know where to begin to find the music since country had gone a little pop at the time and a wave of young singers with a newer, fresher style was about. When asking my oldest brother about Dad's favorites, he said easily, "Gene Autry or The Sons of the Pioneers". "Didn't you know that Dad's dream was to be a professional singer just like Gene Autry"? "No", I said. "I had no idea", "I just thought he sang around the house because that's what his family did". "Oh no"!, my brother said. He played locally in a band and really wanted to make it big but the idea of stardom may have been too overwhelming to him and his confidence in himself and his talent". A lot of people thought he could do it if he really wanted it. One such place he played was Renfro Valley, KY. It was a hoppin' gathering place at one time long ago with people singing for others as a way of getting themselves out heard. For Dad, that dream wans't to be but I love knowing that it was his dream. He really wanted to be successful for his own family of 10 growing up as well as the solid assurance for his children of 5 and their future to live in a life of grascious living.
The upper left (handsome one) is Dad approx. age 17 as a member in Jimmie Johnson's Cowboy Band probably in the early 30's. They played locally for different folks and I'm not sure if local radio was included.
I continued the tour with the next back stage door. I snapped it's picture as I listened to our guide's story that at the request of it's owner, the door was always to remain open for the use of any and all entertainers and to whoever wanted to come by to visit.
Of course this door belongs to the late legendary Mr. Roy Acuff.
My Dad's name was Roy and I don't think I need to explain further the thoughts I had while standing at that
At the end of the tour I purchased a souvenier.
A frame and a guitar pic of number 1.
the photo needs a mat and I didn't realize at the time it was taken on the vertical instead of horizontal, but I saw the red frame and it was his favorite color and I knew it was the one. I love it.
I so enjoyed the unplanned tour of the Grand Ole' Opry. It will always be fondly remembered.
Stage of the Grand Ole' Opry.
A six foot worn wooden circle where all performers once stood and sang at the microphone at the original site of the opry at the Ryman theatre had been placed at the Grand Ole' Opry when it was built. After the Katrina flood, it was retrieved, refurbished and replaced in the newly redone Opry.
A good place to stop and hopefully you'll want to return to my next post as we traveled on to quaint, historic Franklin, TN.
Until then, be safe and know "somebody loves you".
I credit my research information to:
Nashville Skyline: Preserving Part of Country Music's Heritage
CMT/News Jan. 5, 2006 by Chet Flippo
The Seattle Times Entertainment section
The Assoc. Press John Gerome, contributor
Braxton Dixon Architecture
A great blog of owner/operator of the Thistletop Inn, Fred Pearce.
Interesting features that have caught their interest during 2009 and 2010.
*All interesting reads on the subject.