Blue Spring Manor
By Katie McDowell
Few buildings in Shelby County can claim to have as varied a history as Blue Spring Manor in Vincent.
The bed and breakfast has had several incarnations in its 80-year history. Originally a barn located on what is now the Greystone development, there are rumors that it once served as a gambling hall and house of ill repute. Eventually, it was converted into a residential home and moved to its current location in west Shelby County.
Today, Blue Spring Manor is a three-story bed and breakfast located on about 10 acres of land. While it’s tucked away in west Shelby County, the bed and breakfast is popular with travelers and vacationers from across the Southeast.
It’s also the opposite of what current owners Ray and Doris Harris thought they wanted when they began searching for property to convert into a bed and breakfast.
“We thought we were going to be an urban bed and breakfast,” Doris said.
Instead, they stumbled across Blue Spring Manor in 2000. They bought the property at the end of April, started renovations the next month and opened on Oct. 1 of the same year.
It was a whirlwind experience, but they have loved the property and the people it brings into their lives. The Harrises live at the house and have become friends with many of their repeat clients.
“It doesn’t get old because every day there’s someone new that’s experiencing it,” Doris said.
One of those clients is Ann Marie James of Destin, Fla. James first discovered Blue Spring Manor about five years ago when she was searching for a place to stay during a trip through the area. She has returned six times since, either when she is traveling or just in need of a short vacation.
“It’s the perfect retreat,” she said. “You feel like you’re coming home. It’s your home away from home.”
That was the feeling the Harrises wanted when they bought Blue Spring Manor 11 years ago. The house is decorated in French Country décor downstairs, while the eight guest rooms on the second and third floors have themes.
“There is a theme for each room,” Doris said. “Most of that has to do with something in our life, some inspiration that happened in our life.”
The Sunset Suite is named after the sunset that can be viewed from windows overlooking the courtyard, front lawn and freshwater spring. Adjacent to the Sunset Suite on the third floor is the Kilamanjaro Suite. The suite features African decorations collected by Doris during a trip to Malawi in the late ‘80s.
Other rooms are the Lancashire Suite, inspired by the Harris’ love of British history; the Willow Oak room, which overlooks a 200-year-old Willow
Oak; and the GressKlipper Room, a Norwegian word that means “the lawns,” fitting for a room that overlooks the front lawns, where games are often played.
Paintings by local artists Dale Chambliss and Sheila Cook line the hallways of the second and third floors and can also be found in some rooms. Prices range from $110 to $220 without tax, depending on the room.
One of the few structural changes the Harrises made to the house when they bought it was making sure each guest room had its own bathroom with tub. Other than that, they found the house to be in great shape – surprising given the journey it took to make it to Vincent.
Doris said the house was taken apart piece by piece in its original location and transported on three trailers to Vincent, where it was reassembled in 1998. Doris doubted the story for a long time until a chance meeting changed her mind.
She was in line at a Chelsea bookstore, which had Blue Spring Manor bookmarks for sale on the counter. The man behind her pointed to the bookmarks and said he was part of the team that disassembled the house in the late ‘90s.
“I don’t say that story so hesitantly any more,” Doris said.
The common rooms are on the ground floor, including the parlor and the Red Rooster Dining Hall. A full breakfast is included in the overnight rates, but the dining hall is also open to people who are not guests of Blue Spring Manor.
“We are licensed as a restaurant,” Doris said. “Everything we do is by reservation, but we are open seven days a week.”
Blue Spring Manor also has a conference room and a spa. Treatments at the spa include massages, scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures.
“It allows for a quiet spa experience on the property so you don’t have to get in your car and drive away,” Doris said. “All you have to do is climb the stairs.”
Perhaps the most popular part of Blue Spring Manor is the extensive grounds. The 10 acres of property includes a pool, hot tub and several gardens and trails. A koi pond is located in one of the gardens, while a stone garden can be found behind the property. Blue Spring Manor was recently granted Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
The lawn adjacent to Blue Spring Manor is home to a majestic, 200-year-old Willow Oak. The lawn is a popular place for weddings with the exchange of vows taking place beneath the tree.
In addition to weddings, Doris said Blue Spring Manor is popular for small, overnight meetings and conferences or larger, outdoor parties and gatherings.
Add those gatherings to the regular flow of guests and Blue Spring Manor stays busy year round. It’s one of the challenges of being a bed and breakfast owner, but it’s one the Harrises love.
“If you are in any way offended by people being in your home, you’ll struggle with it,” Doris said. “I think the sharing of space is motivational.”
For more information about Blue Spring Manor, located at 2870 Highway 83 in Vincent, visit Bluespringmanor.com or call 672-9955. l