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More than a venue

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By Vanessa Hurst

Steeped in family history, Thurman Phillips Guest House and Claudia’s Tea Room, located in Sonora, are providing an elegant venue for almost any entertaining need while carefully preserving the past.

“All the property on the corner is owned by Charlie Thurman’s family. He lived and worked in New Orleans; that’s where he met his late wife, Claudia. When they retired, they moved back to Kentucky.” said Renee Peace, General Manager of the Thurman Phillips Guest Home and Claudia’s Tea Room.

Thurman-Phillips Guest Home

This Victorian-era home was built in 1897 by Josiah Phillips, Jr., and is on the National Historic Register. The home is complete with turn of the century furniture and many ancestral artifacts. Peace said Charlie and Claudia bought the Victorian home from Charlie’s Aunt; the home had never been out of the family from the time it was built. It had fallen in to disrepair and they wanted to restore it.

Claudia’s Tea Room

“Charlie and Claudia bought the home next door and restored it as well,” said Peace, “Claudia wanted to open a tea room there.”

As you enter the Tea Room a hand painted garden mural greets you as you make your way through the foyer; walking through you can’t help but feel an air of grace that is almost timeless.

“We’ve hosted small tea parties of four, birthday parties, weddings, rehearsals, family reunions, class reunions, and we also cater,” said Peace.

The 1901 lake house

“The Thurmans also bought the house across the street which was built in 1909. We rent it out as a guest house” said Peace, “The property has a lake and a wooded area that is really pretty at night with all the lights. There’s an expansive deck on that house which overlooks the lake and fountain as well as walking trails through the woods: our staff works really hard to keep everything looking pristine.”

Peace said there have been many weddings by the lake and in the woods behind the house and added that the deck makes a fun area for reunions and parties because of the relaxing atmosphere.

“In the summer we have shrimp boils; Charlie brought that back from Louisiana, it’s a lot of fun. We also offer a Chef’s Table where you and friends can come and have our chef, Sarah Trulock, prepare a meal and entertain you.”

“One of the great things about having an event here, whether it’s a rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception or a one-year-old birthday party is that we can provide catering and everything you need. All you take away is the memories, or if you want to bring in your own catering that’s fine too.”

“We really strive to make every event and stay here an experience that feels like home,” added Peace

Peace said they are also starting a monthly Lady’s Night Out with different themes each night, “We’re doing an Ugly Dress Party on February 27, we’ll serve finger foods and lemonade, and guests will parade their ugliest dresses; we’ll have games and judge for the ugliest dress. It will be a lot of fun.”

Claudia’s also plans on many more events for the public this spring, including cooking classes, monthly book club, their second annual Mother’s Day Tea. They are also going to be open for lunch on Friday starting April 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Overnight room accommodations are available for a stay or the entire lake house may be reserved, as well.