June 29, 2023
A childhood home can hold a lot of weight in a person’s life, serving as an anchor or a North Star for when they grow up and move on but are still in need of a little direction. I was 33 years old when I had to help my mom pack up the place we called home for the entirety of my life up to that point. I’ll never forget how empty it felt to clear it out, and likewise, I’ll never forget how full of life it was as I grew within its walls. But this story is not about me, it’s about Dolly and the place she still calls home despite her many accolades, awards and properties she’s acquired over the years— her Tennessee Mountain Home.
Dolly so understands the concept of home and how it shapes us that she had her childhood home replicated for all to see who come through the gates of Dollywood. It was here that she shared a small space with her parents and 11 siblings. This is where Dolly’s mother made her coat of many colors and where the kids gathered stones— the most important ingredient in the family’s stone soup recipe (you can order a bowl over at the Song & Hearth Restaurant at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa or download the recipe here to make at home!). And perhaps most notably, this is where Dolly not only would hear her momma sing and encourage her love of music, but where Dolly herself wrote her first song, “Little Tiny Tassel Top” at just five years old. With a stick and a tin can for a microphone, Dolly would belt out her songs from the front porch— the humble beginnings of a woman who would take her music to stages all over the world.
Visitors are welcomed to step inside and see the small space that held so many family members and such big dreams. With only two rooms, a kitchen space and a bedroom, one might find it hard to believe that Dolly would care to showcase such a place; after all, there’s no glitz, no glamour, no gloriously gaudy decor. Unlike Dolly, there’s nothing eye-catching about her childhood home; you might even easily walk past it, but you’d be missing who Dolly is entirely if you didn’t look deeper past the glitz and glamour.
The house holds every little detail, from homemade quilts and newspaper that served as wallpaper to her daddy’s work boots and a calendar that boasts of her arrival into the world on January 19, 1946.
At different times of the year, you’ll notice different decor added by the park, as well as nature coming and going as the seasons change. Out front sits a statue of little Dolly, or at least that’s what I’ve come to call her as I pass by and wave. You’ll notice plaques in honor of family members who’ve passed, including her parents, Lee and Avie Lee Parton. No matter how big Dolly rose to fame, she never outgrew her love for her parents. She went out to see the world, but she always came home for love and a reminder of who she truly was without all the shiny lights and cameras.
Despite the difference in appearance, Dolly’s childhood home is just as much Dolly as the big hair and flashy outfits we know and love her for. Her childhood home is what nurtured her heart, and it’s her heart that loves and gives to so many others. As Dolly herself says, “I’m very real where it counts, and that’s inside!”
So step inside not just any Tennessee mountain home but Dolly’s childhood home. Be awed not by the finer things in life, but by the simple surroundings where love grew and eventually gave us Dolly Rebecca Parton.
All Insiders Attractions
All Insiders Attractions
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