The McBryde House: Beams open Sumrall bed & breakfast

By HASKEL BURNS,

Although Dr. Stephen Beam and his wife Dawn had floated around the idea of opening a bed and breakfast facility in Sumrall – which would be the city’s first establishment of that type – for the last few years, they had yet to settle on a particular location.

Until recently, that is, when the 110-year-old former home of town doctor Angus Mitchel McBryde came up for sale, at which point the Beams knew they had their place. The couple recently transformed the house at 4821 Mississippi 589 into the McBryde House, a six-bedroom bed and breakfast that also offers dance and art lessons, with a soft opening the last week of December.

“The truth is, we had talked about the town needing one, just kind of in a general sense, for several years,” Stephen said. “We weren’t planning on this house – we didn’t even know it’d come up for sale. When it did, it seemed to answer that wish that we had.”

The McBryde House, which is run by innkeepers Will and Snow – the Beams’ son and daughter-in-law, respectively – offers six bedrooms, each named after an important figure in Sumrall’s history. The Parker Room offers a king bed and bay window with an adjoining bath, while the Newman Room has a king bed and bath.

The Sumrall Room – named after town founder Daniel Sumrall – features a queen bed with a large window and bath across the hall, and the Preston Room offers a queen bed with a shared bath.

The Cook Room comes with a queen bed with a bath across the hall, while the Hudson Room features a full-size bed with a trundle.

Unique to the McBryde House are the dance and art lessons under the tutelage of Snow, who holds a degree in early childhood education from Chengdu University and has taught dance, art and Chinese in China, Australia and America. Lessons, which are available for adults and children, take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at a cost of $10 each.

“Will and Snow, who is from China, were living in Hattiesburg at the time and she was pregnant with their first child, and they needed a place to live,” Stephen said. “But more than that, (Snow) needed something to do – she’s very active, and (Will) is a teacher at Forrest County schools. So she just jumped at the idea of being an innkeeper at a bed and breakfast.”

Since the facility’s soft opening in December, the Beams have had the opportunity to host a few guests at the McBryde House, who Dawn said all enjoyed their stay.

“We have had a few tenants, and it’s just been a wonderful opportunity for Will and Snow to get to know people and extend hospitality,” said Dawn, who also serves as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court. “Snow was also an event planner in China, so whether it be a Sunday school class that just wants a little special gathering place or a small wedding, it’s a smaller venue.

“We’ve got a number of large venues, but this would give an opportunity for folks that didn’t want 500 people to a wedding, but for something more like a hundred, it would be a nice little place to gather.”

In celebration of the new bed and breakfast, a grand opening was held at the facility on Feb. 8.

“It was a great reception; we had probably 60 or 70 folks there,” Dawn said. “We had one member of the McBryde family there.

“One room is the Hudson, and we had a number of Hudsons there, so it was a really good day.”

The McBryde House was originally built in 1910 by W. Ward, one of the foremen of the J.J. Newman Lumber Company, before passing from the Ward heirs to Travis W. and Elizabeth Adams Parker in 1949. The house was sold to Travis’s sister, Vivienne Ruth McBryde, and Dr. McBryde in 1953 for $4,200, with immediate repairs and paint costing $975.

The McBrydes renovated the house in 1957 – including the installation of air conditioning and a fireplace mantle made with marble from the soda fountain from the old Sumrall Drug Store – at a total cost of $17,060. The home eventually found its way into the hands of Judy Russell, owner of The Bank: Judy’s Flowers and Antiques in Sumrall, who sold it to the Beams.

The house’s backyard still features a shed/fallout shelter built in 1962, during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with a hand-pumped well that originally drew naturally-carbonated water. After Hurricane Camille hit the area in 1969, that well was the only source of water in town.

“It’s just an interesting, historical glitch, so to speak, here in Sumrall in his backyard,” Stephen said. “The story goes that (after Hurricane Camille), people lined up all the way out in the yard and all the way down 589 across the railroad tracks, with buckets and so on.

“They could pump their water out of that well, since it had a hand pump.”

As the word gets out about the McBryde House, the Beams expect not only Sumrall residents but also those from outside the area to pay the bed and breakfast a visit.

“We’re maybe two blocks from the Rails to Trails (Longleaf Trace), and it’s amazing where people come from – all over the south and the United States – to bike that Rails to Trails,” Stephen said. “We’re also not very far from the Okatoma, so there’s that.

“And Sumrall is in the process of building tournament-ability tennis courts, and we’ve already been told by people who play tennis that we’ll have plenty of visit with that. Snow fixes a very good breakfast for them every morning – she’ll have tea and little snacks – plus it’s just a lovely place to stay for those who don’t want to stay in a run-of-the-mill hotel.”