- The Mae House
Set on a beautiful property in the village of Athens, The Mae House is a quiet 173-year-old Colonial. The farmhouse was lovingly named for the current owner LaTonya Yvette’s grandmother (whose middle name was Mae) and for the month she closed on the house. Since purchasing the property a little more than a year ago, Yvette has thoughtfully redesigned the farmhouse to be a vacation rental and a calm place of rest for her own family and the broader BIPOC community.
The idea for the upstate property first came to Yvette during COVID. Living in Brooklyn with her two kids, Yvette was challenged by the lack of access to nature for her and her family. “The decision to purchase The Mae House was born out of this desire to be more connected with the land and to give that opportunity to rest and recharge to other BIPOC folks,” says Cherokee Lynn, the Community Engagement and Outreach Director of The Mae House.
The Mae House is available for vacation rentals year-round through their website. The income from these rentals is then used to subsidize the cost of the property’s free Rest As Residency program. “The Rest as Residency program provides stays for BIPOC,” Lynn shares. “Particularly those whose families have limited access to nature and might not otherwise be able to afford a restorative vacation.” By renting out the farmhouse to full-price guests half the month, The Mae House can offer free stays to BIPOC couples, families, and friend groups every quarter for three to seven nights with no cleaning fees or other charges.
“We are working against the generational trauma and exhaustion that often lives in the bodies of Black, Indignous, people of color,” Lynn says. “Rest is liberation and resistance.” The entire house is designed for utmost relaxation, from the chef’s kitchen down to the large, clawfoot, cast iron soaking tub in the third bedroom. The Mae House uses a Nest thermostat to keep the house sustainably comfortable, along with window units to stay cool in the summer. For the winter, there is a gas fireplace to stay extra cozy.
The farmhouse has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and is able to sleep anywhere from 6 to 8 people, along with two dens full of childrens toys and books from the Brimful Shop. The kitchen features a deep farmhouse sink and all of the cooking equipment guests could dream of to make delicious, comprehensive meals. On the property, there is also an extensive garden that guests can pick their own vegetables from. Behind the house, there is a substantial backyard completely fenced in with a patio table and chairs to enjoy meals outside. The house is also a two-minute walk to a nearby elementary school playground.
The Mae House team has worked diligently to source furniture and other objects in and outside the farmhouse from sustainable and mostly BIPOC-led companies and designers (all the way to the toilet paper from Reel Paper). In addition, all guests are given a map of all BIPOC-owned businesses in the area to support the community further economically.
Guests can also order a loaf of gluten-free sourdough bread for their stay from Knead Love Bakery. The Mae House donates their proceeds from these bread sales to Sweet Freedom Farm in Germantown. The farm works to get healthy, nutrient-dense foods into prisons and to the families of the incarcerated as well as other low-income people as part of the Grow Food Not Prisons movement.
The Mae House represents much more than a typical vacation rental, it's a place to come together, rest, and ultimately improve the community around it. Lynn says, “The Mae House is a sanctuary that was built for an expanding community.”