Reimagined Living: Acres of Family Farm Transformed Into Southern Resort

Posted on 01 May 2019

Located off the beaten path, deep in the woods of Decatur County is a classic example of ‘Good Ole’ Southern Hospitality. The minute you drive onto the Mablewood property you are struck by the beautifully landscaped grounds and the immaculate buildings.

Bill Cooper, who also owns Flowers by Cooper in Bainbridge, has taken his family farm place and converted it into a lovely wedding and celebration venue that now includes a Lodge. He and his partner Wade Walker regularly mow and tend to the 13-acre complex, rotating the flowers and plants as the seasons dictate.

The main house on the property was built in 1887 and was home to Cooper’s  grandparents who lived there in the early 1930s. Bill said he grew up there and helped work the 135-acre farm. He has named the property Mablewood after his grandmother Mable Cooper, who was born and died there.

He has remodeled the original house for his own residence.  A newer construction, originally built for a tractor shed, was first converted to a personal care home for the elderly and used five years for that purpose.

After Hurricane Michael struck in mid-October 2018, he relocated the residents into a personal care home he opened in Bainbridge. He then began converting the care home into what he now calls The Lodge.

He laughs as he remembers that he drew the plans for the lodge on a paper grocery sack and gave it to the contractor, who did his best to interpret and follow the directions. It has turned out to be a classic Old South lodge, where each of the five bedrooms boasts appropriate nature inspired names such as Quails Nest, Deer Retreat, Rabbit’s Den, Pine Forest Room and one called Barn View. Each room has a private bath. There is also a great room with a fully functional kitchen, bar and dining table. Much care has been taken to finish and furnish the rooms in an authentic country motif. Much of the wood trim, vanities etc. are made either from trees that grew on the farm or from boards taken from old barns and outbuildings. Cooper also follows estate sales and yard sales to find just the right furnishings.

A newer construction is referred to as a party barn, fully utilized and shared by his chickens, goats, three donkeys and one humongous pig named Ruby, who weights 780 pounds. They reside in both sides of the barn and a fenced in farmyard, while a central room is used for events. With the installation of sliding windows, you can choose whether or not to include the animal presence at your function.

Cooper began hosting weddings and parties in the barn three years ago.  A wedding was actually held there the week after the storm with the help of a generator. Disaster relief workers from Louisiana also stayed there for three weeks while they worked the area.

Since the lodge has been completed, it can now be incorporated into the wedding package, offering a place for family members to stay and rooms for the bride and groom to change into wedding attire.

The Lodge is the latest building to be added to the consortium and is available for rent by the night or is the week. It is listed on Airbnb, a site for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world.

Mablewood is truly a unique space that invites visitors to come stay awhile and relax on the farm.

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