In the late 60’s Ann Rudegeair was your typical high school graduate just itching to get away from the confines of small town Franklin. So after leaving for college, she and her husband Marty spent the next 30 years enjoying various areas from Augusta, Georgia to South Korea but mostly in the beautiful city of New Orleans. Having deep roots in this area, they came back regularly for Christmas and summer vacations. And once they had children, they experienced a revelation - they wanted them to have the same small town experience growing up with a large network of family and friends.
So in 1996, with a 3rd and 5th-grader in tow, they packed their bags and headed home. That transition was both wonderful and perplexing. St. Pat’s teachers and students made them feel welcome even before they started school. They had each received an envelope with notes and pictures from each of their classmates-to-be with sayings like “I’ll be your new friend”. And on their first day of class, each one was asked their full name - Erin & Ryan Witherup Rudegeair. Both teachers readily recognized that their middle names were Ann’s maiden name (a practice we picked up in the South apparently) and made a game of going around the room asking each student if their middle name was their Mother’s maiden name, what would it be? Well that ended up being their homework assignment since very few of them could answer. This experience made them feel both unique and a part of this new group of kids.
We were often surprised though, when we were questioned by strangers as to why we HAD to move back to Franklin… seems that many of our own community leaders, bankers and business owners held the belief that people who have been successful in the big world would never willingly move back home. But we did and we’re glad we did and our kids are too.
After being ‘retired’ from our professional work (remember our treehouses?) and our big family home became populated by just the two of us, we decided to offer accommodations as The Witherup House B&B. And what a joy that has been because we now get to showcase our love for this area but also witness our guests (both returning locals and newbies) reactions to life as it used to be… leave your car, walk uptown to shop, dine and be entertained; stroll down to Riverfront Park for delightful sunrises and sunsets; walk to OARS and rent a kayak for a long morning’s float; or bike across the bridge and join a network of 50+ miles of trails meandering along the river and through the woods. And the best part of all is ‘Front Porch Living’ - with all manner of family, friends, neighbors and strangers stopping to chat about this amazing little town that somehow, some way (we all know it hasn’t been easy) is successfully embodying that wonderful phrase… “LIFE IS GOOD”.