Who are Shellie and Wade Whitfield? Owners of Bloom House as seen on 'Big Fish' seek Erin and Ben Napier's help
Erin and Ben Napier are all set to take on Wetumpka and they have 'Big Fish' to fry -- in the form of the Whitfield's home
Erin and Ben Napier are on a mission to give the city of Wetumpka, Alabama, a makeover that stands the test of time. HGTV's new show 'Home Town Takeover' hosts are tackling their biggest renovation yet: an entire town! The six-episode series follows the couple as they breathe new life into Wetumpka, Alabama, through 12 major renovation projects. While Wetumpka has plenty of charming places and spaces, there is one that truly stands out among the rest - The Bloom House, or, as it is more popularly known 'The Big Fish' House.
If you're a Tim Burton fan, you'll recognize the home instantly as it was featured in 'Big Fish', Burton's 2003 comedy-fantasy drama. With most of downtown Wetumpka being featured in the film as the fictitious town of 'Ashton,' Bloom House was probably the most recognizable landmark. While Ashton may not exist, Wetumpka and the Bloom House are very, very real -- here's a look at who currently owns the home.
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Meet Shellie and Wade Whitfield
As seen in 'Big Fish,' the Bloom House belongs to Edward Bloom, the protagonist's father. The stunning two-story home with its bright white walls truly sets precedence for the fantasy elements of the film. While the house doesn't literally glow in real life as it did in reel life, it happens to be a home that is currently lived in, by the Whitfield family -- Shellie and Wade and their four sons.
As per his Twitter handle, Wade is a catastrophic insurance adjuster and Shellie is an art teacher who often used unconventional methods and worked towards introducing art to impoverished and high-risk children. As reported by The Wetumpka Herald she is now the art teacher at Redland and Eclectic elementary schools. The couple moved into the Bloom House back in 2018.
Before the move, Shellie was advocating for art in the Elmore County schools. When in Newnan, Georgia, she created mobile art camps, packing her truck with supplies for projects, giving children an opportunity to make art. Upon moving to Atlanta, she initiated a class for underprivileged kids who could not afford pre-school, prepping them basic school etiquette through a two-week program. Upon arriving in Wetumpka, Shellie was quick to join The Kelly exhibit committee, a non-profit art group.
This led to her opening Big Fish Studio right from across her home, in an attempt to schools implement more art programs and to help the community do the same. “It’s not the end result of art; it’s how you feel when doing it. These kids have so much to express,” she said while talking to The Wetumpka Herald.
“Imperfection is beauty in people and in art. It’s my mantra and a great concept to teach the kids.” She added. When she isn't helping children make art, she is often making art of her own, seeing that Shellie herself is an artist, who works with a wide array of mediums, such as papièr maché, oils, chalk, acrylic, old hardware and more. “It brings me joy, and when I paint with joy, it permeates into my art. I love to use a lot of bright, happy colors,” she explained.
Why is the Bloom House so famous?
Wetumpka is no stranger to being on camera, seeing that it has served as the backdrop for 1995's 'The Grass Harp,' 2002's 'The Rosa Park's Story' and of course, 2003's 'Big Fish'. The Bloom Home is easily one of the more iconic locations here, thanks to its unique architecture and white walls that make it stand out.
Located atop a hill at 401 E. Bridge Street, the Bloom Home which was the name of the house in 'Big Fish,' is also known as the Collier house. The house itself dates back to 1847. As reported by HGTV, when the Whitfields moved in, they were unaware that it was the house featured in the movie.
'Big Fish' definitely has a fan base of its own as do most of Burton's films. His movies often go beyond just the story and dive deep into world-building, creating an atmosphere that's unique to his movies and 'Big Fish' was no exception to that, seeing that the fictional town of Ashton captured fans' attention and imagination.
Upon learning its significance to the community and fans, the Whitfields knew they had to save it. As with any home renovation project, this one proved to be a daunting task. But thankfully, they now have Erin and Ben to fall back upon. Moreover, 'Big Fish' also happens to be Erin's favorite movie, making this project one that is close to the heart. "'Big Fish' is my all-time favorite movie. I'm seen it a million times and I can recite the script," she said.
'Home Town Takeover' features Ben and Erin Napier taking on Wetumpka, Alabama. The couple will be carrying out 12 major renovations across the city, in a new show aptly named 'Home Town Takeover'. These renovations include restaurants, shops, historic homes, public spaces, a new farmers’ market and an entire downtown street.
You can watch 'Home Town Takeover' on HGTV on Sundays at 8 pm ET/PT and stream the same on Discovery+.