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SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
At Home In Carroll County
With Dixie Carter & Hal Holbrook
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The drive to McLemoresville, Tenn.,
just two hours west of Nashville, is a
surprisingly beautiful one in the fall,
with the cotton combines humming along the sides of the road and tufts of stray cotton drifting through the air and collecting among the grasses that line the Carroll County highway. This is the road that leads to the home of two of the area痴 most well-known residents, Dixie Carter and Hal Holbrook. This busy couple splits their time between their larger, more
glamorous Beverly Hills home and Carter痴 beloved childhood home here in the country.
展e kept coming back, working
around the place, making it more and more a permanent residence, with the long view in mind, says Carter, who is perhaps best known as the quick-witted interior designer Julia Sugarbaker of the popular CBS comedy Designing Women
. 展e池e here whenever we池e not working now, rather than in Los Angeles, because my father, who lives here with us, is in very fragile health. Carter痴 father, Halbert L. Carter, owned several small retail stores in both McLemoresville and

nearby Huntingdon when she was growing up. Carter痴 aunt Helen Hillsman, who was also unable to live on her own anymore, recently moved into a room in the McLemoresville home as well. Carter says that even before her family members moved in, she and Holbrook always came back to Tennessee at Christmastime, in the spring and early fall if they could make it.
The house is as warm and inviting as the couple themselves. In addition to the main house, which was built in the 1870s, there are two guesthouses, a heated pool,
two garages and one barn on the seven- and-a-half-acre property

that sits right in the middle of downtown McLemoresville.
There痴 no doubt that the heart of the house is the spacious but homey kitchen.
It has been renovated twice since Carter痴 mother passed away in 1987, and Carter says this final version is a tribute to her.
The colors in the room are red and yellow, colors that her mother always wanted in her kitchen. The room is L-shaped to allow for cooking in one area and eating in the other. As a result, it has become the hub of the home, where conversations can flow
freely and easily from both sides of the room.


 Hal and Dixie taking time off from their busy entertainment schedules.


 



 

On this autumn afternoon, Carter looks right at home in her kitchen watch-ing SEC football on the small television in the corner while casually chopping vegetables to go alongside a roast chicken for the evening痴 dinner. Coffee flows freely throughout the day and the distinct smell of cookies wafts through the house. Adjacent to the kitchen is the 300-square-foot formal dining room, one of the loveliest rooms in the home with its large windows covered in antique lace draperies.
Until recently, Carter and Holbrook
frequently hosted formal dinner parties for 10 to 12. 鉄ince my father痴 health changed so dramatically, and our energy has to go mostly to his care, we have almost no company at this time, says Carter, who feels certain that they will host dinners there again someday. Carter痴 eyes shine as she speaks of past dinner parties in the home. 的t痴 very Southern, languid and peaceful, to sit around that table with the breeze just slightly moving the lace

    Above; Large formal dining room for guest at the home of Hal and Dixie.

 

    Dixie enjoying her culinary skills in her country-style kitchen at the renovated 1800's family home.

 


 

curtains, and remember verses of poetry or old stories, and count ourselves fortunate to be together.
A large, grand music room is another beautiful area of the home. A regal fireplace is one focal point of the room; another is an antique grand piano of French origin that dates back to 1823. A smaller spinet piano in the corner is
covered with some of Carter痴 sheet music from when she was a child. Tall floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors surround the room, which includes a formal sitting area with cozy sofas and chairs. The music room is filled with cherished family heirlooms, as is most of Carter痴 home.
Directly off the room is a large wrap around brick veranda. The couple can often be found here, enjoying their coffee, catching up on reading and enjoying the views of their lovely backyard. The brick porch is a replacement for an old wooden one that was rotting away. The renovations were painstakingly done three years ago by architect Hoyte Johnson, of the noted Norman Askins Architectural firm in Atlanta, a firm well known for
their work with older houses. As a result of the careful design, the porch looks as if it has always been a part of the house.

 


    The beautiful Music Room at Hal and Dixie's McLemoresville home.
 



    At rest on their comfortable patio.

 


 

The opening of The Dixie Carter Performing Arts and Academic Enrichment Center in the nearby town of Huntingdon, where Carter went to high school, gives the couple an additional reason to return to the area. The Center, which opened its doors in
November of 2005, is centrally located between Memphis and Nashville.

 

 

The Dixie Carter Performing Arts And Academic Enrichment Center. Located in Huntingdon, TN is the area's newest entertainment facility.

The new state-of-the-art $3.2 million facility, affectionately known as 典he Dixie, will serve the region as a premier venue for the performing, literary and visual arts. In addition to various dramatic and musical performances, The Dixie is also the home of the Huntingdon Hayride, a musical review similar to the Grand Ole
Opry in format, but on a much smaller scale. The Center was funded through donations and pledges from local businesses and multiple fund-raising efforts over the last five years, and is the culmination of the vision of Dale Kelley, the mayor of Huntingdon, whose effort has been to revitalize the community and contribute to the area痴 growth. Carter, who is visibly moved when speaking of the performing arts center that bears her name, calls the opening of the Center 殿 dream, on so many levels.
 
The Center is also the home of the Hal Holbrook Theater, named to show appreciation to Holbrook, a key consultant in the theater痴 design and planning. A veteran star of both stage and film, Holbrook has begun his fifth decade of performing his famous one-man show 溺ark Twain Tonight! and will star in the show at The Dixie in May of this year.  As the sun begins to set on the lovely autumn day, Carter and Holbrook stroll around their expansive backyard, holding hands, talking about the landscape, their families and the coming spring. The couple, who met on the set of a TV movie in 1981 and have been married for 22 years, have a wonder-fully easy, relaxed way with each other. Holbrook teases Carter and flirts with her, and she beams when she痴 in his presence. They often take walks around their property, taking inventory of the various plants and trees in their yard. After Carter痴 mother died, she began extensively planting trees around their grounds. Holbrook also became interested in tree planting and together the couple has planted close to six hundred trees around the property. 展e致e lost probably close to half of the trees, due to blight or storms, muses Carter, 澱ut we池e still planting. With their roots firmly planted in Tennessee soil, it seems certain that the optimistic, energetic couple will enjoy many happy years to come in their beautiful country home and its surrounding community.

For more information on the Dixie
Carter Performing Arts Center, or to
purchase tickets for upcoming shows, visit www.dixiepac.net.