By Heather Gausline Tate | Photography courtesy of Stephen and Suzette Woodgate
Award-winning restoration respects home’s historical chapters while making it a luxurious respite for modern-day travelers.
The recently restored Wynne House Inn bookmarks another historical chapter for the home and the town of Holly Springs. Nearly 150 years has passed since the German architect Gustavius Adolphus Palm finished the north Mississippi home in 1872. Boasting a new look and new name, the Wynne House Inn now welcomes travelers to the bed and breakfast which was awarded the 2018 Mississippi Heritage Trust in June along with 43 other recipients.
The new owners, Stephen and Suzette Woodgate, approached the restoration with detailed care, taking nearly a decade to finish the property that is located on the National Register of Historic Places, which has three different residential designations within the town of Holly Springs. While Stephen originally hailed from Rochester, New York, Suzette’s home was just down the road in Oxford.
Purchasing the foreclosed property in February 2007, the Woodgates spent the next six years restoring the main house and another three years renovating The Hummingbird Cottage, a smaller home located on the grounds. While restoring the houses that had deteriorated over time, they learned the history of the buildings from the locals who generously shared their stories.
The Woodgates soon realized they were not just preserving the buildings themselves, but a part of their city’s rich history. To the community’s delight, the couple named the home after Dr. Carey Wynne, a local dentist who had lived in the house with his family. After extensive renovations that included new wiring, plumbing and the addition of more rooms and bathrooms, The Wynne House opened in 2016 just in time for the Christmas in Holly Springs Home Tour.
When asked why the Wynne House Inn earned a Mississippi Heritage Award this year, Stephen Woodgate shared his insights. “The completeness of the renovations was the part that stood out. The house had fallen into such disrepair that it was a huge undertaking to renovate it. Also, just the finished outcome and restoring the original beauty was noteworthy. We literally took the house down to the studs and rebuilt it to equal, or even exceeded, its original grandeur.”
He explained the first project involved removing the aluminum siding from the house to comply with the historical standards. Because of the home’s location within a historic district, returning the exterior of the house to its original appearance by using the period-appropriate materials was a necessity. On the inside, most of the moldings and flooring is original; however, a Memphis mill house replicated cutter heads to match measurements of the 1800’s moldings.
Since opening the house, the couple has offered themed dinners to highlight history and local culinary talents like those of Tyler Clancy of Clancy’s cafe in Red Banks, Mississippi.
“We host several themed dinners throughout the year that provide a fine dining experience for locals and people from the surrounding areas. The dinners are elegant, five-to-seven course meals made from locally-sourced ingredients,” Woodgate said.
The first themed dinner, “A Taste of the 1800s” was a seven-course meal that featured a menu from that time period and in honor of the Wynne House. In July, “A Summer Table” highlighted dishes such as grilled watermelon salad with crispy pork joule, muscadine and cucumber gazpacho, and blueberry buttermilk chess pie with bourbon infused whipped topping.
In addition to the special dinners, the Wynne House Inn is frequently used for bridal parties hosting a weekend of activities, including the featured bridesmaid brunch. Off-site corporate teams rent the house for meetings or even client appreciation dinners.
Every week guests from all over the South, and even the world, make The Wynne House their home-away-from home. They have hosted guests as far away as Australia and recently accommodated a newlywed couple honeymooning from the Netherlands. The inn is open year-round and can accommodate up to 10 guests in the main house and five guests in the Hummingbird Cottage. Visitors wake up each morning to a home-cooked Southern breakfast by assistant innkeeper and cook Sandra Teigland.
The Woodgates appreciate the general appeal and architecture of the region. “Holly Springs is a town steeped in antebellum homes, Civil War history, and Blues music.,” they explain. Likewise, the region offers visitors diverse experiences from the annual home pilgrimages to music festivals, golf and quail hunting at nearby Fitch Farms.
Or, many may prefer to do what so many guests have done over the last 150 years – to simply relax on the porch or take a stroll around town. Today, a new park located across the street from the inn offers another option. Whatever the choice, it’s clear another chapter of history is unfolding for this cherished home and every newcomer to Holly Springs.