Beau Cheval Offers Weddings on Historic Land

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Photo supplied by Beau Cheval.

With February being National Wedding Month, it is the perfect time to start looking for a unique venue. Beau Cheval offers just that.

Sitting on the crest of a hill on the road to Wartrace in Bedford County, Beau Cheval, “beautiful horse” in French, is a historic home that was probably built in 1810, and moved to the current site in 1973 by the late Dr. Joe Tom Walker, a prominent dentist and businessman in Murfreesboro. He turned the rustic dog-trot log house into the home where he raised his family. After turning down many offers for the farm he loved, he decided that he liked the plans Beau and Gary Spry had for the place and sold it to them in 2017, when he was 89. The Sprys turned the beautiful, rustic home into what has become a popular bridal event venue. 

Buying the home from Dr. Walker was an experience. Because he saw the home as one of his legacies, he was very particular about who bought the house and what they did with it. When the Sprys came upon it, it had been on the market for about three years. 

“It was an interview process,” Beau explained. 

“Joe Tom was sitting in a recliner in the kitchen in front of the fireplace watching TV while we were touring the house with a realtor,” Gary added. “He continued the tour with us on the property.” 

That was when they told him about their plans and he began to change his mind. What the couple finds humorous is that the first time they made him an offer, he wrote one word on that offer. No. And sent it back. He didn’t even make a counter offer. And it was not about a lowball offer. It was about what was going to happen to the home. 

Not only did the home mean something to Dr. Walker, it meant a lot to his family. One of his daughters got married on the front porch. His kids brought their kids to enjoy the pool and the land and family. 

When it was completed in 1973, it was a show piece. Dr. Walker’s wife, Elizabeth, had an interior decorator come and design the décor for the home before their family moved in. Some of those touches remain on the second floor, including unique dark green wallpaper, which had also been on the walls in the dog trot entry hall when the Sprys moved in. And a clawfoot tub that was hand-painted to match the wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom. 

“There was wallpaper all over the place [when we moved in],” said Gary. “And all the curtains matched the wallpaper. We were told that after this home was finished, it was featured in Southern Living Magazine… It was quite a home for 1973. All the floors in the bathrooms are heated floors…which was very unusual for [that time].” 

Several places the Sprys have kept things as they found them, including where Dr. Walker’s children’s heights were recorded on the kitchen wall. 

“We didn’t have the heart to paint over it,” added Gary.

While a show home when Dr. Walker’s family moved in, in 2017 it felt very dark and dated. The ceilings in the living room had been painted brown, the wallpaper was dark. The couple tried to do what they could to bring light into the home. They painted the ceilings white; put in recessed lighting; stripped the wallpaper; did a lot of spackling and filling, tore out the old tubs on the main floor and put in tiled showers; and covered the yellow walls on the sun porch, which looks over the outdoor wedding space, white with a “haint blue” ceiling. 

“The ceremony site was the family pool,” explained Gary, who has done much of the remodeling himself, and when not doing the work himself, he acts as the general contractor. “At some point Joe Tom asked his kids and grandkids if they were coming back to swim. When they said no, he filled it in with dirt. All I did was finish it with gravel and put a concrete cap on top of it to make it a flat space.” 

A massive pavilion has also been added to the side of the home with a covered walkway leading to it from the house. The pavilion is where most weddings take place during the winter, and practically all of the receptions occur there. Some rehearsal dinners. However, they have also had weddings take place out in one of their fields, and others down by the creek. 

What makes them very unique is that they do it all. From their showroom, located down the hill from the venue, they help brides plan every detail. The showroom is a beautiful space where they offer a selection of décor and signage options for the bride to choose from. They even have one of the tables Gary handmade, that they use in the pavilion for receptions. Here brides can experiment with centerpieces, table runners, and place setting options.  

It is the history of the home that makes it the most unique place to get married. While the home was not located on the hill where it now sits during the Civil War, the land where it is now located acted as a bivouac for Confederate soldiers after the Battle of Stones River. 

“The Louisiana Confederate regiment bivouacked on the farm … [for] six or seven months until they were pushed out by Union Colonel Wheeler and Colonel Eli Lilly, of pharmaceutical fame, who put his artillery on top of a hill overlooking the farm and bombarded it with cannon fire until the Confederates moved on.,” noted Gary. 

During World War II, General Patton came though during the “Louisiana Maneuvers” to train his division for war in Europe because the terrain in the area is similar to the terrain of central Germany and France.

“One of the farmers that adjoins us…his daddy was alive during World War II,” explained Gary. “His father remembers the soldiers coming through and the jeep trailing behind the tanks with a load of cash on it. Every time they tore up a farmer’s fence, the finance officer would find the farmer and pay him cash for the damage that they had done, and then they just rolled on out.” 

The Sprys remain mindful of the home’s past and Dr. Walker’s vision of it as they continue to build their bridal business. 

“[Some of] his children and grandchildren have come to see what we’ve done with the home,” said Beau. “And one of his grandchildren wrote in our guest book that he was smiling down from heaven. Which was sweet.”