Since 2016, a rusty pre-World War II train car has sat in the yard of the Smiths’ home in Maryville, Tennessee, filled with old toilets and gaudy Christmas decorations stored by previous owners.
The exterior car preserves an aged look, but since Dean and Adrienne Smith started renting it in December 2017, that rusty train car has become a luxury tourist destination.
Dean’s wife Adrienne rehabilitated the 520 square-foot industrial interior with white wood siding, exposed filament lighting, and a full gourmet kitchen and bar. Despite the extensive renovation, the car preserves pieces of its history.
Adrienne decided against the black Sherwin Williams paint she bought to cover the original dark-rust floors, and let the floor’s character bleed through. The ceiling also has original archways that used to hang water tanks, and she repurposed furnace vents into windows.
The Smiths infused the car with local color. A “U.S. 129” sign inside the car pays homage to a nearby windy, steep road also known as The Dragon.
“A lot of motorcycles and driving enthusiasts like to drive The Dragon... A lot of guests are here to drive it,” said Adrienne, a former property management executive who calls herself the rental’s chief operating officer and vice president of housekeeping.
A decorative horseshoe with a stained glass stamped “Maryville” came from Resurrected Relics, a “Upcycled, Repurposed and Painted Home furnishings” store in Maryville. But some artifacts travelled a long way to Maryville. The tray on the dresser was a WWII soldiers’ food tray, which the Smiths acquired in a trip to Alaska.
Outside, the train car has a patio, which expands the limited space inside. There is an outdoor seating area with a grill, fire pit, gazebo, and a goldfish pond, in addition to views of the smoky mountain foothills. A handmade “Platform 1346” train sign is made of wood that had been stored in the train car.
Four Goldendoodle puppies named Pippin, Lilith, Effey and Hazel, an English Cream retriever named Maple and a standard Poodle named Mr. Bingley mingle with guests, while the senior dogs, a Goldendoodle named Wrigley and mixed breed named Kirby hang back with the family.
“They absolutely love all the guests that come here. It will be 10 o’clock at night, and I have to text the guests and ask them to please send the dogs home now,” said Adrienne.
The historic train car is listed on Airbnb for $144 per night and is accompanied by an aircraft hangar rental and a Dolly Parton-themed trailer rental. The Smiths enjoy meeting guests from around the world and sharing in their lives, said Adrienne.
“It gives us so much joy to see guests from all over the world, and some who are just five minutes away, who just wanted to get away and relax. We have people come here who are mourning, we get newlyweds, we have birthdays and anniversaries,” said Adrienne.
Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter
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