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Thistletop Inn: A Tennessee Original

Romance can be discovered in the most surprising places, often hidden from view and awaiting discovery. This Valentine’s Day, why not slip back in time and take your sweetheart to one of Tennessee’s unique getaways. Just imagine…

Thistletop Inn 025A hand reaches for the latch on the heavy wooden doors, etched deeply with ornate carvings. Gravel crunches under the wheels of a stagecoach, hooves clip clop to a stop, and the horse blows a heavy sigh; ah, a long day’s journey is done. The driver dismounts, opens the stagecoach door, slender hand extended to help the lady down.

Thistletop Inn 015Reality and the past blur in a curious time warp. The doors push open to the stagecoach inn on the well-travelled Nashville-Louisville highway. It is 1860. Or is it?

Hidden away on a quiet hillside in Goodlettsville is a Braxton Dixon masterpiece, a rustic retreat that has been turned into a bed and breakfast owned by Fred and Mary Jane Peace. Rich with historic architectural artifacts, Thistletop Inn is a 7,000 square foot house built of stone from Old Hickory Lake, and rugged cypress and pine beams rescued from near and far – an Indian train station, a Charleston wharf, the Nashville Candy Factory and a North Carolina tobacco warehouse.

Thistletop Inn 003Set on 11 acres with the ambience of a Colorado mountain lodge, the house is an intriguing mix of angles, curves, balconies, patios, ponds and relaxed warmth. It’s the perfect retreat, whether snug beside a cozy fire in the winter, strolling in the woods, watching deer graze at twilight or migratory birds soar overhead.

Thistletop Inn 005Thistletop is an unexpected gift, opened as a bed and breakfast to share a living, breathing expression of history, life and energy. The front doors from an 1860 stagecoach inn lead into a welcoming living room, floor to ceiling windows with views across the valley, slate floors cool to the touch, leather sofas inviting you to sink in and stay awhile.

Dixon’s imprint is everywhere. A two-story rock fireplace from a 200-year-old Kentucky farm, antler chandeliers, a cast iron spiral staircase from a London train station, and another from a New Orleans theater, 12-foot French doors with stained glass windows from Scotland, every knob and every handle, they all tell a story.

The Dauphine RoomA true Romeo and Juliet experience awaits those who stay in the Dauphine Suite. Atop a wrought iron spiral staircase like a stone French chateau, the expansive loft room has lovers’ balconies front and back, spectacular views, 2 x 16 plank wood heart of pine floors and luxury appointments. All it needs is Taylor Swift singing Love Story for the perfect romantic getaway for valentines!

Dixon, a self-styled Frank Lloyd Wright, is a restoration preservationist, a brilliant master builder with a passion to breathe new life into natural wood, stone, metal and artifacts collected from old buildings around the world. He has an uncanny ability to track down treasures with intriguing tales attached, then with the skill of a visionary architect, designs them into the next house he is building. The 92-year-old Dixon lives in a pre-Civil War log home in Hendersonville with his lovely wife and stage singer, Maryanna.

Maryanna and Braxton Dixon  HiRes-1His true career began when he was discharged from the army at the end of World War II, and started collecting pieces and parts from old buildings in river towns as they were torn down, including Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and New Orleans. At one time he had over 400 doors! The houses he designed and built were crafted from salvaged and restored parts soaked with life and history.  He even pulled old nails and wooden pegs to reuse.

Returning to his roots in Hendersonville, Dixon attracted famous names when his craftsmanship was observed, each house evolving into a fluid expression of light, stone, water, natural elements and extraordinary treasures from past eras. The owners of his houses included Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Marty Stuart and Trisha Yearwood.

At every turn, Thistletop Inn is full of surprises; each room discovered is a new adventure for the senses. Hidden nooks and alcoves, a library, exercise room with hot tub, expansive recreation room complete with pool table, game table, flat screen TV and full bar – it has it all!

Fred and Mary Jane PeaceInnkeepers Fred and Mary Jane Peace have pampering and hospitality down to a fine art. Enjoy a gourmet hot breakfast in the morning, complimentary snacks and beverages at any time, and a host of special touches. Even in-room massage therapy can be arranged. The inn is also perfect for a girls’ weekend away, business retreat, rehearsal dinner or reunion. And for an independent stay, there’s always the Carriage House.

Looking for additional Valentine’s options in the area? Just 30 minutes north is The Hancock House Bed & Breakfast, a 15-room colonial revival log inn with separate rustic two-story cabin that is popular with honeymooners and romantics. Adjoining a horse farm between Gallatin and Hendersonville, it was once a pre-1851 stagecoach toll gate house known as Avondale Station on the historic Avery Trace.

Let us know where you find romance in the air!

Hi! I’m Dayle Fergusson. As a transplanted Aussie living in Middle Tennessee since 1986, I have been a freelance travel...Read on

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    stacy mcbee

    love the photos

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