Relax: “This is a retreat, a place of nurturing, and one of nostalgia.”

Country kitchen with large white island
Photography by Jim Bathie

Tom and Margaret Ritchie’s country getaway in Alabama has had a number of different chapters. The property was originally purchased in 1838 in the midst of a cotton boom. It has been the site of a one-room schoolhouse, a train stop, and decades later, a ranch for racehorses with a large track and sparkling lake. Amid a backdrop of longleaf pines, the property’s most recent story began in 1998, when Tom purchased the land. In 2004 the couple began a full renovation of the rustic home that increased the footprint, allowing more space for friends and family to gather on weekends and holidays.

country home exterior - white columns and black front door
Photography by Jim Bathie

Today, one common theme runs through the polished, upscale farmhouse: “Quiet,” Margaret reveals. “Our country home is such a quiet place that the stillness is only occasionally interrupted by the sound of a passing train. This is a true rural escape, and we love that.”

The original farmhouse had a symmetrical I-house design, a common 19th century floor plan in the Southeast that features a breezeway through the center to keep families cool in the hot climate. In the Ritchie home, the dining and living rooms flanked opposite sides on the main floor, while two bedrooms mirrored one another on the second floor.