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Colorado couple buys Belle of the Bends

[4/2/04]After years of their friends telling them that they would be perfect for owning a bed and breakfast, a Colorado couple has headed south and east to do so.

Dan and Mary Lee of Lone Tree are the new owners of Belle of the Bends in Vicksburg’s Garden District, buying the B&B from owner Jo Pratt last month.

“Our friends always said, You’re perfect for this,” said Mary Lee, 47. That helped make the decision easier, but finding the perfect home and city was the hard part, she said.

The Lees took out a U.S. atlas and picked several places they’d like to live. After looking for years at homes in Montana, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, the couple visited Arkansas. While on that trip, they rented a car and headed to Vicksburg.

“We were driving through the Garden District, and my husband said, Wow! Look at that house,'” Lee said. “And it was for sale.

“We fell in love with the house, and said, Let’s take the plunge,’ and we did.”

The home, at 508 Klein St., overlooks the Mississippi River and sits near tour homes, including Cedar Grove Mansion Inn, Annabelle Bed and Breakfast, Flowerree and The Corners.

The Lees will move to their new home April 20, leaving behind their residence 15 miles south of Denver.

“We’re packing up everything and moving to the river,” Lee said.

The couple’s plans for the home are not definite, though they plan to open a gift shop and plan to open the home for tours.

“We just have to get there, get our feet wet and see what’s what,” Mary Lee said. “We don’t even know where a grocery store is.”

She said she plans to do most of the cooking for guests.

“I have a quiche that I love to cook that will definitely be on the breakfast menu,” Lee said. “And we’ll serve a Southern breakfast. My husband grew up in Kentucky on biscuits and gravy.”

She said grits will also be an everyday item on the menu.

“When people come, they will dine in elegance, and I want to make it really special,” Lee said.

The home was built in 1876 by Murray F. Smith. The Lees will be the home’s fifth owners. Ben Guider owned the home from 1912 until 1919, and the Buelow family owned the home from 1919 until 1990, when Pratt purchased it.

Pratt gave the home the name Belle of the Bends after the famous packet steamboat that carried goods between Vicksburg and Greenville and was owned by her grandfather, Capt. Tom Morrissey. After she named the home, Pratt discovered that the home’s original owner had given the dedication on the Belle of the Bends steamboat at the ceremony that marked the opening of the Yazoo Diversion Canal in 1903.