It was a beautiful spring day when we drove into the small Tennessee town of Lynchburg. Our destination was lunch, so we pulled in to an open spot at Miss Mary Bobo’s boarding house in the hopes of getting a table. The website will tell you that people make reservations years in advance, and that might be true for some, but on this day, we lucked out.
As you enter the old home, the gift shop is also the location of the wait list. We strolled up and found ourselves placed on the list for the Jasper Room.
The price is all inclusive. Meat, veggies, cornbread, dessert, and all the cold ice tea you can drink. Sounded really good as we sat in the front parlor waiting for the time to take our seats.
Miss Mary Bobo opened a boarding house in the early 1900’s in what was formerly a hotel. The house itself was built about 100 years before that in 1820. Miss Mary Bobo operated the boarding house until the 1980’s, dying at almost 102 years old. It is now run by Jack Daniel’s great niece.
While we waited, we checked out some of the items on display in the foyer. Among them was a family tree for the man that put Lynchburg on the map, Jack Daniel.
I checked to see if I could find a connection as my great grandmother on my Dad’s side was a Daniel from North Alabama. As with most Southern families it is hard to definitively confirm anything, but based on the aptitude for good liquor in that side of the family, I’m convinced we are related.
It wasn’t long and we were escorted down the long foyer, out onto the back porch, and into the Jasper Room. One of the rooms that once served as the original kitchen of the old house, the Jasper Room wasn’t large and had a big brick fireplace on one side. In the middle was a huge country style round table with a lazy susan. Now if you aren’t from the South, the brilliance of the lazy susan might be lost on you, but it is a wonderful way to share various dishes on the table without having to “pass” anything. You just sit the bowls and platters on the round top and spin it until the dish you want is in front of you.
Our hostess was an elderly resident of Lynchburg who sat and engaged our table in the lost art of conversation. No one played with their phone or even looked at it. It was us and some folks from Boston and we found that we had lots to talk about. We talked about their visit to Nashville, where we were from, and believe it or not, politics. We agreed way more than disagreed about that topic, which was a surprise.
It wasn’t long before the food was brought out – meatloaf, mac and cheese, fried okra, baked apples with a bit of the local brew baked in, cornbread, and chocolate pie with Jack Daniel’s cream on top. It was good. Real good. Once everyone had their fill, we were hurried out to make room for the next round of lunch. We took some time to explore the house and found the original spring in the cellar. This spring is why the house was built here in the first place and was still active.
Our stomachs full, we set off to explore Lynchburg proper…thanks Miss Mary Bobo for a good lunch and great company!