MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – At the corner of Andy Griffith Ave and Aunt Bee Boulevard, you'll find the Mayberry Motor Inn. It has 28 rooms but you can only stay in 27 of them.
“This is Aunt Bee’s room,” said Alma Venable, who owns the inn and knew Andy’s mother well back in the 1960s. Though Aunt Bee never stayed here, the room is the permanent home of some of actress Francis Bavier’s worldly possessions. Bavier, who played Aunt Bee, passed away in 1989 and her estate was auctioned off.
"We went to the auction,” Venable said. “We didn't plan on buying anything but got all excited and started buying what we could."
Venable shares the actress’ items in room 109, a mini-museum dedicated to Aunt Bee.
“The furniture came out of [Bavier’s] house, I have a dress, hat that was hers,” said Venable, who has gradually added to the collection over the years. "I have her contract, she made $2,500 a week.”
Somewhere along the way, Venable started paying tribute to Aunt Bee with the clothes she wore. “I just tried to find something she would wear,” she said.
But it’s the wholesome lifestyle Mayberry represents that Venable believes continues to attract fans today.
“People would like to go back in time like it was then,” she said.
You can tour the Aunt Bee room by appointment only. The visit is free.
“Aunt Bee’s Room”
Mayberry Motor Inn
501 North Andy Griffith Parkway
Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030