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Landscapes, Winter 2008

A Tale of Two Innkeepers

Mississippi's Once Upon a Time Bed and Breakfast

Vicki and Marc Mauney and dog Sophie

Photos by Chris Desmond

Owners Vicki and Marc Mauney, with their dog, Sophie, in the bed and breakfast’s cozy living room.

Once upon a time, a small cottage was built on a little stretch of land a few miles from the Mississippi River.

It was the late 1800s, and the land had been attracting settlers, not only for its fertile Delta soil that was ripe for farming, but for its proximity to commerce from river traffic and a recently built railroad. A few modest homes had begun to spring up along the rail line, giving rise to what would become Main Street in the town of Tunica, Miss.

Today, after many reincarnations, that little cottage still stands as a monument to the families who lived and worked within its walls. It is now Once Upon a Time Bed and Breakfast, lovingly and faithfully restored by its current owners — Land Bank of North Mississippi customers Marc and Vicki Mauney.

A Little Romance

Forty years ago, Marc and Vicki met and became friends while in college, she at The University of Mississippi and he at The University of Memphis. After graduation, she went on to marry, raise her family and dabble in antiques in Jackson, and he pursued a profession as an engineer, a job that took him all over the world.

Years later, in 2000, the couple became reacquainted, and their old friendship bloomed into romance. They married and decided to settle in Tunica, where Vicki was born and raised and her married son, Cody Harrell, lives. Her family, the Perrys, have deep roots in the county. Marc also has close ties to the area, having grown up in nearby Eudora.

In 2006, the Mauneys discovered the little cottage and knew immediately it was right for them. They both loved history and old buildings, and each had some experience in renovation. Vicki even had memories of playing in the cottage’s front yard as a child, with her best friend who lived next door.

Zoning Laws Notwithstanding

Unfortunately, when the Mauneys looked into buying the cottage, they found that the property was zoned for commercial use — they could not use it just as a residence. But determined to live there, the couple settled upon a solution: They would purchase the home and open a bed and breakfast.

fountain in inn's garden

A beautiful fountain graces the inn’s garden.

For two years, the Mauneys worked on the restoration, keeping true to the home’s late 19th century construction. The cottage retains some of its original trim and heart pine flooring, which are mirrored in the additions they made to accommodate their guests: a new kitchen, bathrooms and an atrium. They also filled all of the rooms with antiques, some from Vicki’s own family.

Of the name of the new enterprise, Vicki says, "I just looked at the house and thought, ‘Once upon a time, long, long ago, when this little house was created, families lived and worked here … and now we’ve revived it.’" Today, she’s pleased to open their home so others can enjoy it as well.

Destination: Tunica

Located 10 miles south of a burgeoning casino area, Tunica and the Once Upon a Time Bed and Breakfast both offer history, a small-town atmosphere and Southern hospitality.
People in the local community praise the inn for contributing to Tunica’s historic charm. Among them are the Land Bank of North Mississippi Clarksdale staff, Ronnie Sellers, Bobby Spinks and Linda O’Neal.

"All of us here at the Land Bank are happy to see one of our customers start up a new business that fills a need in the community," says Sellers. "We’ve known and worked with Vicki for years, and we’re rooting for her to succeed."

For more information, go to www.onceuponatimetunica.com, or phone (662) 363-3217.

– Article by Tina Jackson
– Photos by Chris Desmond