When I walked through the farmhouse kitchen door at the Drop Inn, I could not help but exclaim, “Oh, it’s perfect!” And, even though it’s theoretically impossible, it just got better from there. The Drop Inn is located in the midst of what was known as the Drop Farm, named after Charlie Waldrep, affectionately known by friends and family as “Drop.”
The Inn is actually part of a 100-acre family owned farm complex in Ripley, and the house was built around 1910. Two of Drop’s kinfolk, Gayle Black and Myra King, are the co-owners who make the place hum, and Myra actually grew up in the house. There are stories galore about the people who lived there, but my favorite is about “Granny” who was born a preemie in 1918, weighing in at a little over 3 pounds. She was put in a little box in front of the fireplace, carefully warmed, loved, nourished and protected. Against all odds, she not only survived but thrived, long before the days of Neonatal Intensive Care Units!
The house eventually fell into disrepair, as the family built their own dwellings elsewhere on the property. It came down to either razing it or restoring it, and thankfully, they chose to restore it and open the Inn. After Gayle retired from her career as an educator and counselor, she took about a year to lovingly resurrect it. “That part was Gayle’s doing,” Myra told me, and everyone in the room for the interview agreed she had done a splendid job. The kitchen has modern appliances, but they don’t take away from the “vibe” that comes with a skillfully executed restoration project. It boasts a large stainless steel farm table whose legs are made from the original porch posts. It is a caterer’s dream to prep for weddings and other events, and the Drop Inn has been pleased to see a number of high quality caterers produce some tasty feasts.
The decorations and furnishings are “period perfect,” and they are not too “cutsie.” There is even a genuine claw foot tub, which is what I grew up with, and anyone who has been in one knows there’s nothin’ like ‘em. However, what makes the Drop Inn even more special is how the rest of the old part of the farm has been repurposed. The big barn is now a “Party Barn,” or, as the picture illustrates, the “Wedding Barn.” There is another small barn, a grain silo that has been converted into restroom facilities, and with the fall coming up, (which is still high season in the Bed and Breakfast world,) there are a number of Harvest Season events planned. During the fall, The Drop Farm will be making field trips available to groups during the month of October by reservation only. They are offering educational farm field trips to groups of 20 to 30 children and activities which include a hay ride, story telling, a ventriloquist, face painting, a scarecrow that comes to life, games, animals, horseback rides, and a pumpkin from the “punkin’ patch” to take home.
Myra is also quite the horsewoman, and in addition to adding horseback rides by request to the Drop Farm birthday parties, she teaches horseback riding lessons several days a week at The Drop Barn. After retiring as an educator and coach, she became familiar with a style of horsemanship that is more akin to “horse whispering” and that is the approach she uses in her riding classes. She loves to help people overcome all kinds of fears, horse related or not, and I can speak from experience that the “saddle sometimes beats the shrink’s couch!” As a result of our meeting Gayle and Myra, someone very dear to me has an appointment to overcome what has been described as “what happened with a horse named Whiskey and a storm.” I am joyfully awaiting what I know will be a good report. The horses are gentle, and some are more spirited, and Myra has a real knack for matching horse to rider. I am planning on treating myself to a ride with Myra sometime this fall as well.
The house is often used as the dressing room for the bride and bridesmaids, but I also saw pictures of a small wedding performed and celebrated at the house alone that were truly lovely, warm, comfortable, and, (forgive me if I say it again,) perfect.
If you choose to stay at the house as a bed and breakfast guest, Gayle will make you a country breakfast, or, if you prefer, stock the place with your choice of snacks or food in the fridge if you wish to be left alone and on your own. Any way you choose to go, the Drop Inn at the Drop Farm is a local treasure, and I trust you’ll discover that for yourself real soon.
The Drop Inn
11185 Snake Road, Athens, AL 35611
Phone: 256 777-0964, or 256 777-2029
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or check them out on Facebook at The Drop Farm
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner