September 29th, 2011 | Story by: South magazine |
"Originally, Coffin acquired 50,000 acres along the Cumberland River as personal hunting grounds. He built a lodge and tavern where he quietly entertained American presidents, dignitaries, corporate executives and sports enthusiasts from around the world, inadvertently creating one of America’s first hunting clubs.
Today, narrowed to 24,000 acres, Cabin Bluff still holds court as one of the premier hunting and fishing retreats in North America, yet it’s open to the public.
In its new form, it plays host to a wide variety of interests, including kayaking, hiking, biking, sport and light tackle fishing, clay shoots, lap pool swimming, tennis, bocce ball, Davis Love III golf and boating, with excursions to Cumberland Island.
Largely, Cabin Bluff caters to corporations looking for unique opportunities to engage staff members; however, individuals and families can visit on designated weekends throughout the year.
The Lay of the Land
Driving in, the only paved road beyond the entrance gate is the one that leads to the lodge, an anchor for the compound of cabins, which collectively houses 40 people in the 20 private rooms with private baths.
Just in front of the lodge, forest green golf carts line up next to a loose mess of bikes, all for guests to enjoy, while pristine, longleaf pines quietly overlook. A fishing dock stretches over the bluff of the Cumberland River where the sun sets in spectacular form.
Relics of the property’s history are intricately woven throughout, says Amy Kutrufis, the reservationist who has worked with Cabin Bluff in various forms over the last 40 years.
“Look up,” Kutrufis says, stepping through the main thrust of the lodge.
A mounted, 13-foot alligator hangs out on the ceiling, upside down, its mouth open in a big, toothy grin. Coffin’s cousin, Alfred Jones Sr., shot it on his honeymoon in 1930.
Other catches, fowl and wild boar, are stationed on and around the stone fireplace that is captured in an archival photo on the wall. Coffin, his wife and guests, President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, relaxed in this very spot, after having had what Kutrufis says was a “sumptuous dinner fit for 100 men.”
There’s an original wagon wheel chandelier that hangs among two modern skylights and handsome leather sofas and chairs, giving a preview of the crux of old and new that prevails across Cabin Bluff. Thick wooden latches close heavy wooden doors while local history books rest on top of small writing desks with legs of local timber. Hand-carved headboards position beds in rooms with similar mirror frames and jacket pegs, virtually undetected on the natural color of the walls. In acts of ongoing preservation, much of the wood is sourced from the property itself, chopped and put to use after a break or fall. But don’t let this seemingly rustic setting fool you: modern amenities, Wi-Fi, satellite TV and refrigerators stocked with gourmet snacks belie, to create an underbelly of comfort, minus the distraction. There’s an unruffled elegance to it all."
Written by: Melanie Simon
To view the entire article along with pictures pick up the October - November issue of South magazine.