This tiny, Southern, country village in South Georgia is famous as the home of the United States 39th President, Jimmy Carter and the 2002 recipient of the Nobel Peace Award. Stepping back in history almost a century, visitors can see where “Jimmy Peanut” grew up. The little community of Plains, GA, with its single strip of store buildings from the early 1900’s, is like it was when President Carter was a child, and many of the current residents knew him in those days. We visited his school and enjoyed seeing a lot of memorabilia and hearing our former President dressed in blue jeans and a red plaid shirt tell tales about his school days and teachers. For many events throughout the year Mr. and Mrs. Carter are on hand to tell guests all about life in Plains.
We rode the local train from the depot in Plains, which was his 1976 Democrat Campaign Headquarters, to his boyhood farm at the village of Archery, where Jimmy plowed, picked cotton, tended animals, did carpentry and many other farm chores during the Great Depression. His only neighbors were African American families, with whom he was close friends, not succumbing to the prejudice and bigotry of the South. This visit to a working farm, which is now a National Park Historic Site, is inspiring, informative, and fun for families and children of any age. How amazing it is to see the way life was all over rural America and much of the world a century ago and to see real farm life demonstrated: from blacksmithing to care of animals, to planting and harvesting and processing cotton, peanuts, and gardening.
We were fortunate to be able to stay at the Plains Historic Inn above the Plains Antique Mall on Main Street. This Bed and Breakfast Inn has only seven rooms and we had no idea what a treat awaited us! Rosalynn Carter is primarily responsible for this wonderful renovation. This space had been the storage area of a furniture store and also part of a funeral home where caskets and bodies were brought by the elevator, which is now an historic decoration near the entrance. We were all a little disappointed that no one has ever encountered a ghost here, even though professional ghost hunters have tried.)
The common room is comfortable for visiting and adjoins the breakfast kitchen which is equipped with modern appliances and all kinds of delicious snacks and breakfast items for guests to select for themselves. The long open porch with rocking chairs overlooking the quiet Main Street is a step back in time for guests to enjoy an evening of talk and laughter with other Inn guests. Because Plains has strict rules about changing the façade of any buildings in order to preserve its historical value, the Board which controls restoration said this porch, which was suggested by the former President of the United States, said “No!”…until a 1925 photo was found showing a similar porch on an adjoining building. Don’t miss the quiet luxury of rocking on this porch overlooking the peaceful town of yesteryear.
As our group walked to each suite we all involuntarily gasped aloud at the gorgeous décor. It was Mrs. Carter’s idea to decorate each suite to represent a decade of the Carters’ lives. The transom of each entrance has a stain glass telling which decade from 1920 – 1980. 1970 is the Presidential Suite. Each suite is uniquely and sumptuously furnished with authentic period antiques! Each private bathroom has modern facilities but incorporates lovely extra features like a long buffet cabinet transformed into a double sink and dressing table. Each room has a TV and WiFi, but in the decades before television the sets are hidden within an armoir or cabinet. Our very large and comfortable king size bed was high with a double wooden step to climb up! Each suite has many beautiful lamps and a large living room with luxurious furnishings. This wonderful Inn MUST be a destination place for your next restful, vacation. You will love talking with Miss Jan Williams, the manager of the Inn, a former school teacher who knows the Carters well and can tell spell-binding tales about life in Plains, GA.
Anyone visiting Atlanta should take a few hours to visit The Carter Center Library and Museum at 453 Freedom Parkway and walk through the beautiful forested grounds and enjoy the serene lake and garden trails. You can even get permission to fish in the lake! You will learn about the work which Mr. and Mrs. Carter inspire and often personally lead. The deeply moving mission statement and motto of The Carter Center is “Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope,” which they and their staff do tirelessly in many of the poorest places in the world every day.
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