Sweet Peach subscriber, Erin Reid, reminded me yesterday of a place I've been meaning to blog about, The Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I was supposed to be there last summer for my friend Lyn's wedding, but alas, I was off shooting some reality show somewhere. The more I see these pics, the more I realize I missed a great thing...
The accommodations are exactly what it sounds like- shacks. These sharecropper shotgun homes were built in the early 1900's to the mid 1900's, and some have been added fairly recently as the Inn has grown in popularity. (The Tinth, above, was recently constructed with eco friendly materials) There are rows of shacks, spaced over 2 1/2 acres that rent for just $70-$90 a night. There's also a series of hotel suites in the original cotton gin.
They proudly state on their site, "The Ritz We Ain't." The owners refer to their setup as a B&B, which stands for Bed and Beer. As one of the owners, Guy Malvezzi shared with me over the phone, "People are just looking for something different. You can stay at a Comfort Inn any place in the world. You wake up and can't tell which Comfort Inn you're at. You stay out here and it's a whole different ballgame."
The old shacks have been renovated to include heat, AC, plumbing and electricity. There is even internet. Inside the office, you'll find coffee and a box of doughnuts in the morning. Don't expect a buffet...you can get that at the Ritz.
This land was once the Hopson Plantation. Guy admits people have a tough time with the word plantation (primarily outside the Delta), but it's important to note these shacks were built way after slavery was abolished. It was here, with the invention of the first mechanical cotton picker, modern cotton farming was born.
With cotton picking, came the Blues. Now, the Blues began in the North Mississippi Delta after the Civil War. The Blues is a mix of African music, spirituals, work songs, field hollers and simple narrative ballads. It's origination is here in Clarkesdale as just down the way from Shack Up, you'll find the Delta Blues Museum. If you like the Blues, there's a wealth of incredible history here. (And when you're hungry, you can visit another town landmark at Abe's Bar-B-Q, serving since 1924)
So when you're staying at the Shack Up Inn, don't expect high end luxury. Do expect a cool experience and the chance to hear lots of good stories on the front porch. There are no matching sheet sets here but a mish mash of things bought and found over the years. Some shacks even have old pianos inside that are tuned and ready to play. You won't find chocolates on your bed at night, but you may just find a freshly made moon pie...
One of my favorite features on the grounds is the Juke Joint Chapel which combines music and religion themes here in the Bible Belt. They have some incredible live music here- hopefully you'll experience it if you stay.
I had to ask Guy about the swing, pictured right. Guy, "Oh that's a satellite dish we had sitting out here forever. I was always trying to figure out what to do with it so I drug it up under that thing and put a swing under it." They added the windmill later as it just looked cool.
Many of the old relics found on the grounds Guy found at The Mid South Fair in Memphis. As it was going out of business, they got tons of cool stuff for cheap. Guy and his business partners started Shack Up Inn as a place to kick back, tell stories, drink beer, play music. They haven't spent any money on advertising and people the world over come to knock on the Lobby door. It's often sold out. I think Guy's right, people are looking for something different.
Photos: Shack Up Inn; stlblues.net; Vickie Stanton Photography; friendfortheride.worpress.com Content: Sweet Peach