By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
BLUE MOUNTAIN – They have lived in one new home they built and another that they renovated.
But when Dot and Michael Locke decided to downsize after their children were grown, sell their Ripley home and move back to Blue Mountain where Dot grew up, they didn’t have a specific plan for what their next home would be.
Michael’s joking comment to Dot that they could move into a building they owned where he had once stored a boat drew her reaction, “We can do what?!”
Five years later the idea that seemed like a wild notion at first has turned into a comfortable home that accommodates the couple and their large extended family in every way.
“We took ideas from different places we had stayed and brought them in,” Dot said. “We wanted an open floor plan, a smaller kitchen and some other features, plus space for the family to gather.”
They designed and incorporated everything into a 4,000-square-foot building that once housed an electric motor company, with 1,200 square feet converted to their private living quarters, and most of the rest an open area they use for entertaining five grandchildren, other family and friends, complete with furnishings, antiques, collectibles and toys.
“We loved the old west town look and at first thought we’d put that outside,” Dot said. “But then we started drawing up the idea and everything came inside.”
Thus was born the fictional town of Knob Holler, visible only when the Lockes open their front door – raise the large overhead garage door, that is. The name references the nearby Tippah County ridge, Bald Knob, once mistakenly thought to be the highest point in Mississippi.
“She can see things I can’t see,” Michael said of Dot’s imagination. “We drew this out on a piece of paper, and the builders did a great job, and without killing anybody.”
Since the builder was lifelong friend Glenn Smith, his patience didn’t wear out when Dot changed her mind and wanted them to do something different, she said. Smith, Bobby Clark and their son, Josh Locke, worked from notebook paper drawings and verbal requests to achieve the look they wanted.
What you see upon entering the Locke home is an open space with the garage’s original concrete floor, surrounded on three sides by walls built to look like a fully operational town’s storefronts: Blacksmith Shop, Telephone and Telegraph Office, Little Red Schoolhouse, Chinese Laundry, Locke’s Stock and Barrel General Store, Cotton Company and Hotel.
The hotel entrance is the front door to their living quarters. They’ve given the living room the feel of a movie theater, with theater seating, movie posters as wall art and other movie-appropriate features.
The key feature of the kitchen is a pantry cabinet that opens to reveal a spacious kitchen storage area of every woman’s dream, with room for every imaginable kitchen and pantry item.
The main bathroom includes a spa-size tub, separate shower stall and other luxuries suitable to a hotel suite. Through the large walk-in closet, which includes the washer and dryer and a second small bath, is the couple’s large master bedroom, the only bedroom in the living area.
“We’ve brought in everything we thought we’d need,” Michael said. “I offered to cover the concrete floors with carpet, tile, linoleum, anything she wanted, but she said she wanted to keep them bare.”
Dot commented with a smile that not everyone can boast tire skid marks under their dining table.
Out in the entertainment area along with the store fronts is a huge brick fireplace with hearth seating, surrounded by Adirondack and rocking chairs. Eclectic groupings of tables and chairs throughout the space, a wall display of antique metal signs, and numerous other well-spaced and designed displays of family memorabilia and other items add a warm background for family gatherings.
Dot’s parents, Ruth and Perry Malone, live about a mile from the Lockes in the house Dot and Michael built 30 years ago.
Dot and Michael’s daughter and son-in-law, Angie and Will Gossett, with their three boys Ayden, 9, Noah, 6, and Spencer, 3, live in Ripley. Their son Josh has two boys, Carter, 4, and Eli, 20 months, and he lives in Blue Mountain.
“The boys have camped out overnight in front of the fireplace, and the whole family has roasted more than a few marshmallows there,” Dot said.
Michael recently found an old soft drink machine and got it working again, so an upcoming birthday party will allow the kids to get their drinks from a real drink machine with the press of a button.
“We’re different, maybe even on the edge of weird, but this place reflects our personalities,” Dot said. “It’s home sweet home and we love it.”