Shore Lines 9/2012 - Horse Stamp Inn
BREAKAWAYS: Escaping to a relaxing destination in the Georgia countryside
Posted: September 17, 2012 - 9:23am
The Horse Stamp Inn is a unique bed and breakfast on 16 acres. The small plantation is located off a country road in the heart of the Georgia countryside.
Horse Stamp Inn lies near St. Simons and the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s not your typical beach town bed and breakfast. It’s a small plantation located off a country road in the heart of the Georgia countryside.
The inn is a romantic and relaxing destination, perfect for couples. But, it can also serve as the setting for an entire wedding or a corporate retreat. Proprietors Tom and Kris Hutcheson exude southern hospitality in a warm and welcoming way. Yet, they only recently moved to Southeast Georgia from Denver.
The Hutchesons had long dreamed of opening a bed and breakfast, and the spacious two-story mansion in Waverly, Ga., is the realization of that dream.
I was one of their first guests during a two-day visit this summer. I found the 16-acre bed and breakfast a fun — and unique — place to get away from everyday life. And, since it’s located 12.8 miles as the crow flies from the ocean, it’s a nice place to stay while exploring the Georgia coast.
You can meander around the grounds and pet the horses.
You can swim in the pool.
You can swing on a rope swing by the pond.
Or, you can take a boat ride from a nearby marina to explore the area by water; visit nearby St. Simons, Jekyll Island or Cumberland Island.
The food is great, too. Made-from-scratch blueberry-cornmeal pancakes are one of Kris’ specialties. The blueberries come from her garden.
“We enjoy helping people relax,” Kris told me with a smile.
The inn is located off exit 22 on Interstate 95, halfway between Jacksonville and Savannah. It takes its name from its address, 2418 Horse Stamp Church Road, which boasts an interesting history that I think adds to its charm. Tom told me that it was named Horse Stamp Church Road because in the 1800s soldiers used to hold worship services there in fields or under trees. The soldiers had their horses “stamp out” areas for worship, in the dirt or on the grass.
When you turn onto the property from that country road, you motor down a long drive that gives the feeling of being at Tara in Gone With the Wind. The property includes a barn, where the Hutchesons raise chickens for eggs, and a brick fire pit for bonfires and picnics.
The mansion was built in 2006, but has a historic — and equestrian — aura. The five guest rooms are located on the second floor, off a long balcony that overlooks the great room. Each room is named after a horse: Seabiscuit, Dawn Run, Sugar Foot, April Love and Cimarron. Each room is decorated to reflect the spirit of its namesake horse.
Within five minutes of meeting the Hutchesons, I felt like I’d known them for years. Tom was born and raised in Denver, and owned a successful mobile fueling business there for 25 years. Kris is a former elementary school teacher and art teacher. They married 11 years ago, combining their families. Kris has four children from her first marriage and Tom has a son.
As their children all grew up and left the nest, Kris and Tom started thinking about what they could do together. During their child-raising years, their house was always a busy place, with friends constantly in and out. They liked that. So they decided to open a bed and breakfast.
They searched the Internet for suitable locations and properties for sale in Texas, California, Colorado, and North and South Carolina.
“Georgia was never on the map,” Kris said. Until last December, when Tom traveled to the Southeast to look at some of the places they were considering. And didn’t like any of them.
Before boarding a plane to go home, a discouraged Tom searched the Internet once again, and found their inn. It was the private residence of a state senator.
“Coming up the driveway, I said, ‘This is so cool,’” Tom said. “We wanted a place for weddings and corporate retreats with a plantation feel. It was a very lovely home.”
They moved in last spring, into a suite of rooms on the ground floor. They then renovated and furnished the mansion, and installed a pool. They formed relationships with area caterers for events, and with a boat captain at nearby Hickory Bluff Marina on the Little Satilla River.
The Hutchesons bought a 21-foot motor boat for the inn, and guests can arrange rides with Captain Tim Cheek. Cheek told me — during a two-hour boat tour toward Jekyll Island and back — that he knows the waterways in the area “inside and out.” He also takes guests on fishing excursions.
The Hutchesons bought two horses a few weeks after my visit.
I imagine they add to the beauty and the romance.
Brides and grooms who get married on the inn’s property can include them in the wedding, as part of the scenery. They can pose with them for pictures, as well.
That would be a unique wedding in a unique place.
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