Category Archives: History

The Esmeralda Inn of Chimney Rock

Esmeralda Inn

Don and Kim Cason are no strangers to hospitality and innkeeping.  Before becoming the current innkeepers of The Esmeralda Inn and Restaurant of Chimney Rock, North Carolina, they were innkeepers (for over ten years) at Eight Gables Inn of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  The couple thoroughly searched twenty-two different properties and kept coming back to The Esmeralda.  Now they call it home and welcome guests from all over the world to visit.  They revealed some of The Esmeralda Inn’s fascinating history.

The Esmeralda Inn built originally by Colonel Tom Turner in 1891 and opened for business in 1892.  Turner named the Inn for the book Esmeralda by Frances Hodges Burnett (author of The Secret Garden), written while she was staying at a nearby inn. A play, based on the book, enjoyed a year’s run on Broadway.

Tragically, a fire burned down The Esmeralda Inn in 1917.  Rebuilt on the original foundation, the location of the Inn was Esmeralda, North Carolina since a post office was at the Inn in 1917 and where Thomas Turner, son of Colonel Turner, served as postmaster. The post office discontinued in 1926.  Later, the town’s name changed to Chimney Rock (after one of its most popular tourist attractions).

Esmeralda Inn

When Hurricane Fran (along with a 200-year flood) hit North Carolina in 1996, the people who lost their homes stayed at The Esmeralda Inn.  The Esmeralda Inn was higher ground than the land of most local flood victims, so the Inn took those people in and provided water, showers, and lodging for several months.

After the flood, lumberjacks salvaged huge wooden logs floating down the river, separating the good ones from the bad.  Unfortunately, a second fire to The Esmeralda Inn occurred in 1997.  This was just a year after Hurricane Fran and, remembering the inn’s generosity, the local community pulled together to help rebuild the inn.

They used about seven hundred of the best logs to rebuild the inn.  The logs were split (and partially hollowed out) to fit around new steel beams.   The steel-girded new structure appears to be made entirely of wood, but owners Don and Kim Cason are confident that this steel reinforced structure, along with added sprinklers, will prevent The Esmeralda Inn from ever burning down again.

A local Asheville artist volunteered his time to work on the stunning staircase.  He wove Laurel Vine throughout the banisters.  Two stones from its former structure cap the bottom sides of the rugged stairs.

Esmeralda Inn

The hardwood floorboards in the Lobby were from the original dance floor, constructed by Hollywood in nearby Lake Lure, North Carolina, for the famous movie, “Dirty Dancing.”  Hollywood has filmed other movies such as “The Last of The Mohicans” and “Firestarters” in this local area as well.  In fact, the inn became a favorite hideaway for famous film stars, including Clark Gable.  Speaking of films, the script for the movie Ben Hur was finished in Room #9 of The Esmeralda Inn.

A more recent addition, the historic mantel (not pictured above) came from Indiana.  Since it matched the right time in history, it shipped to The Esmeralda Inn.  Part of their chandelier comes from a wagon wheel of an old stagecoach.  The Esmeralda Inn was formerly the first stagecoach stop in the area.

A historic photo in the Esmeralda Inn Lobby depicts a car driving up the massive front steps of the Inn to allow President Franklin D. Roosevelt to enter in his wheelchair.  This was before the convenience of handicap ramps.  The Esmeralda Inn now provides wheelchair access.

Many modern day notables also stay at the Inn, but out of respect for their privacy, Don and Kim Cason do not disclose their names.  However, given its consistently high reviews and previous well-known visitors, there is always the possibility of meeting a famous guest at The Esmeralda Inn.

Owners Don and Kim Cason (and the whole Esmeralda Inn team) have a deep desire to serve every guest that walks through their doors.  Along with their attentive staff, they anticipate needs ahead of time.  The Casons enjoy their family-run bed and breakfast inn.  Kim’s sister is the talented pastry chef, her sister’s husband is the executive chef, and her nephew is the Sous chef.

Esmeralda Inn

Each morning guests delight in a gourmet full hot homemade breakfast.  The Esmeralda Restaurant is open to the public for lunch and dinner and offers exclusive wines and local craft beer.  Don Cason said that The Esmeralda Inn sold out of tickets for the last Thanksgiving Dinner.  They served about two-hundred people at three different times that holiday: noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm.

Esmeralda Inn

The bistro lights on the deck of the restaurant are romantic when they shine at night.  We highly recommend their juicy steak as well as their fresh caught grilled salmon.  From our outdoor table, we could see the famous Chimney Rock.  In view, a gorgeous little waterfall trickles down the huge stones.  The lush landscaping is evident everywhere the eye can see.

Exiting the restaurant and taking the elevator leads to the open second floor.  It boasts a high ceiling with view of the main level below.  In addition to two guest bedrooms (each with private balconies), this floor has a huge game room.  Kim Cason, not only has a background in hospitality, she also has a talent for interior decorating.  This is especially evident in her selection of décor throughout the inn.

Kim’s choice of pictures hanging on the walls in the game room gives the room a classy look.

  • Dice framed
  • Pool ball painting
  • Royal cards framed
  • Poker hand rankings
  • Albert Dawson clocks

The game room features:

  • Wrap around couch with ottoman in view of a huge flat screen television
  • Round Scrabble high table with dictionary with two high-back chairs
  • Telescope for viewing the night sky or the pool and landscaping by day
  • Checkers and chess set on a round table with two high-back chairs
  • Red Billiard table with balls, triangle, sticks, chalk
  • Poker table with poker chips and cards—it even has cup holders
  • Foosball table
  • Air hockey table

Connected to the game room is a little kitchen with a dumbwaiter to receive food from the kitchen on the main level.  The Esmeralda Inn often hosts events such as corporate groups (companies will rent the whole inn), local fundraisers, and elegant weddings (with up to 75 people).

The room just past the game room on the second level is a multipurpose room.  A large roundtable, with leather executive chairs around it, is useful for companies who book the entire inn.  This area also has a privacy screen and fits up to two spa tables for couples’ massages.  Their spa is ideal for anniversaries and marriage retreats.

Esmeralda Inn

We recommend going outside at night.  There is a stone patio with an outdoor fireplace for roasting marshmallows and making S’mores. Next to the outdoor fountain, there is a fifteen-person hot tub with jets and lights. There are towels available outside for your convenience.

Speaking of towels, it may seem like a little thing, but I just loved the little black washcloth with the word “makeup” stitched on it.  I am sure this has saved their white towels from cosmetic stains.  The bathroom even had an adorable black bag hanging up labeled “hairdryer.”  It worked well to dry my hair after it got wet from using their relaxing hot tub.

Esmeralda Inn

All Esmeralda Inn rooms come with:

In addition to enjoying the amenities at The Esmeralda Inn, the greater Chimney Rock area offers many activities and attractions for guests to experience.

Area Activities:

  • Championship Golf
  • Fly Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Rock Climbing
  • Water Sports
  • White Water Rafting
  • Zip Lining

Area Attractions:

  • Asheville: art, Biltmore Estate (with its great architecture, gardens, history, winery, shops, and tours), lively music, shopping
  • Bat Cave: local jams and crafts, nature conservancy, old cider mill, working cider mill
  • Black Mountain: historic downtown with great galleries, majestic mountain views, and elegant shops
  • Blue Ridge Parkway: access in Asheville (about 30 minutes from The Esmeralda Inn)
  • Chimney Rock State Park: hiking, family activities, rock climbing, scenic views
  • Dupont State Forest: hiking, breathtaking views, waterfalls
  • Flatrock: home of late poet and writer Carl Sandburg, Playhouse State Theatre of NC, rainbow row
  • Hendersonville: annual NC Apple Festival every Labor Day Weekend, dining, main street shopping, summertime music and events
  • Lake Lure: boat tours, canoe and kayak rentals, swimming
  • Mount Mitchell State Forest: highest point east of the Mississippi with gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Pisgah National Forest: cradle of forestry

The Esmeralda Inn is a proud member of the North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns (NCBBI) Association as well as an elite Select Registry member inn.

Esmeralda Inn

Nestled in the rocky woodland setting, The Esmeralda Inn stands out as the jewel of Chimney Rock.  Guests will continue to visit The Esmeralda Inn for its unique amenities, beautiful scenery, and welcoming hospitality.  In their restaurant, the wall has a saying written on it, “May all who enter as guests, leave as friends.”  Thank you, Don and Kim Cason as well as the entire Esmeralda Inn team, for a wonderful experience.  As many have written in your guest book, “we will return and next time our visit will be longer!”

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Morehead Manor Bed & Breakfast

Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast

Morehead Manor Bed & Breakfast is a historical B&B with modern amenities.  The friendly and attentive owners and innkeepers Monica and David Edwards show true Southern hospitality.  Guests rave about their gourmet breakfasts.  They love being ambassadors to the city of Durham.  When asked, they are delighted to give their guests whatever guidance they need depending upon their guests’ particular interests and reasons for visiting.

 

The Durham, NC area is a great location. It is conveniently close to the Raleigh-Durham International (RDU) Airport. Those living in, or visiting, Durham have access to a wide variety of things to do and see, including:

  • The Durham Performing Arts Center: home to a variety of performances including Broadway theater, music concerts, and comedy
  • Durham Athletics: Duke University sports, North Carolina Central University Sports, Hurricanes NHL Hockey, and more
  • Durham Shopping: The Streets at Southpoint, Brightleaf Shopping Square, Northgate Mall, Ninth Street Shopping District, and more
  • The Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham: started by Washington Duke and named in honor of his daughter Sarah, this has become a world famous attraction

The world renown medical facility, Duke University Hospital, has its home in Durham beside Duke University campus. Durham, known as The Tastiest Town in the South, shows its excellence in award-winning restaurants for fine dining and casual dining. Residents and tourists alike also flock to the great variety of food trucks satisfying their appetites.

Morehead Manor offers four different areas to their guests to stay:

 

In The Tiger Room, guests rest comfortably in a king-sized, wrought-iron, canopy bed that is surrounded by windows.  This airy room that overlooks the beautiful rear garden. Read an adventure novel as you are nestled in the comfortable reading chair, wrapped in one of our plush robes, imagining all of the exciting places that the antique Louis Vitton trunk resting at the foot of the bed has visited.

The Magnolia Suite is the spacious original Master bedroom features a king-sized wooden canopy bed with lights in the headboard, perfect for romance or reading a good book. The sitting area in the main room is furnished with two high-back chairs near an electric firebox. A separate sitting area has a love seat/sleeper and a roll-top desk. The private bath features a tub and shower. This room can accommodate up to 3.

The Eagle’s Inn features two full-sized beds, spacious enough to accommodate up to 4 people, perfect for those guests visiting the local universities or travel companions that prefer having their own comfortable sleeping beds. The full bath features a deluxe 7-head shower. You can enjoy one of the room’s many novels in the reading recliner or even pen your own at the writing desk.

The Jasmine Room is comfortably appointed with a queen-sized bed. Relax in the reading recliner as you take in a book, the flames from the electric firebox, or just enjoy the views of the front garden.  The large bathroom with tub and shower is perfect for relaxing.  There is a desk available.  Reserve this room and enjoy the complimentary homemade dessert and beverages as you unwind from the day.

Plan your visit to Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast today!

Monica and Daniel Edwards
914 Vickers Ave
Durham, NC  27701
(919) 687-4366 | Toll Free: (888) 437-6333
info@moreheadmanor.com

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Do you live in a Downton Abbey?

do you live in a Downton Abbey

Do you live in a Downton Abbey? Even if your bed and breakfast is historical, it may not have all the drama that comes with the television show called Downton Abbey.  One of the most talked about shows on television is the highest rated drama that PBS has ever had.  

The show was set in Highclere Castle, where people may have lived as long as 1300 years ago. The structural work on the interior of the Castle was finally completed in 1878. Once built, the Castle became a center of political life during the late Victorian era.

In many ways Highclere Castle epitomized the confidence and glamour of the Edwardian period in the first few years of the twentieth century. Visitor books record the house parties full of politicians, technological innovators, Egyptologists, aviators and soldiers.

During the First World War, Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, transformed the Castle into a hospital, and patients began to arrive from Flanders in September 1914. She became an adept nurse and a skilled healer and hundreds of letters from patients and their families bear testament to her untiring work and spirit of generosity.

The Castle returned to a private home and in 1922 the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, the first global world media event.

Following the death of the 5th Earl, his son, who then became the 6th Earl, returned to Highclere where he lived until 1986. During the Second World War, the Castle briefly became a home for evacuee children from north London.

The current (8th) Earl and Countess of Carnarvon live partly in the Castle and partly nearby but remain closely involved in the Castle’s day to day life and future.  If you live in a historical bed and breakfast, your guests would love to hear about its history–including the drama! Then you can answer the question, “Do you live in a Downton Abbey?”

Do You Live In A Downton Abbey

 

 

Downton Abbey aired for 6 straight seasons on PBS.  Although there are no plans in place, there are strong rumors of a future film adaptation.  If the movie is made, do you think that some of the actors from the TV show will play their same characters for the movie version? 

Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

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The B & B Boom in the United States

The B&B Boom in the United States

 

 

The B&B boom in the United States was influenced by several factors:

  • Enjoyment of the B&B experience by millions of Americans who traveled in Europe–especially starting in the 1970’s.

 

  • The U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 sparked a renewed interest in preserving America’s architectural heritage, and accompanying federal and state legislation provided tax credits for the preservation of historic properties. Many such buildings were on fairly busy roads, making them undesirable for private residences but ideal for conversion into bed and breakfasts.
  • Similarly, the large size of thousands of Victorian-era homes made them inappropriate for single families, but perfect for B&B’s.
  • The 1980’s saw a rapid growth in the numbers of B&B’s in the U.S., but despite considerable media coverage, advertising was expensive, and getting listed in the many B&B guidebooks took a year or more.
  • The growth of the Internet provided the biggest boost to the B&B industry, and leveled the playing field so that a bed and breakfast could afford to compete with area hotels, by listing in directories like BedandBreakfast.com, establishing a first-rate website with pictures and virtual tours as well as offering a safe, secure online booking option.
  • Bed and breakfast owners can hire professionals to give them an online presence in social media as well as to write professional search-engine optimized content in a blog.

With so many different ways to market their business online, it is the innkeepers that keep up with technology who will really thrive in this economy. For American citizens, it all started with the B&B boom in the United States.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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History of the B&B Industry in the United States

History of the U.S. B&B Industry

The history of the U.S. B&B Industry began when travel for business and/or pleasure in the United States started in the 1700’s.  Many coaching or stagecoach inns, common in England and the Eastern United States, typically provided stabling for horses and lodging for travelers.  However, the accommodations were extremely modest (at best).

 

Once railroads were constructed, the convenience of railroads provided a huge boost in travel comfort, and hundreds of hotels were constructed close to train stations to accommodate growing numbers of travelers.

As the United States industrialized, more people had time and the discretionary income for travel.  Summer escapes from the sweltering cities to cooler mountain or seaside villages became popular. Wealthy families summered in private villas or luxury resorts, while the working classes headed for boarding houses.

During the Great Depression in the United States, taking in boarders to help meet expenses proliferated. Homes located on state routes (this was long before Interstate Highways) often posted signs reading Tourist Home or Guests, where travelers could typically find a room for the night for about $2, usually including breakfast.

Travel to Europe boomed after World War II; a strong U.S. dollar allowed millions of Americans to discover England’s and Ireland’s B&B’s, and equivalent accommodations on the Continent. Throughout the 1980’s, the seeds for the B&B boom were planted.

Interestingly, although history of the U.S. B&B industry began with informal, inexpensive places to stay with shared baths and minimal amenities, they are now largely luxury accommodations with high levels of comfort, service, and luxury.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

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If You Own a Historic Bed and Breakfast

If you own a historic bed and breakfast, do you emphasize its history to your guests?  Many Bed and Breakfasts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Up to 90% of Bed and Breakfasts occupy historic buildings that have been lovingly restored.  Some of them have received rewards from a Preservation Society.  

You can give tours of your historic home and talk about the people who formerly lived there.  If you know their names, talk about them.  Feel free to share any stories you know to be true. If they are rumors, then let your guests know that the information can not be confirmed.  Your guests will feel as though you are giving them a window into the life of those who once lived in your home.

If you have antique pictures of family members, hang them on your walls. Bed and breakfast owners, you can display precious momentos from your historic home.  If they are valuable and/or fragile, consider putting them in a locked glass display case for your guests to view.

You could even put together a scrapbook of old photos of your bed and breakfast and the people who formerly lived in your home.  If you put that scrapbook in a common area of the house, guests will be able to enjoy looking at the pages to get a sense of the history of the place they are staying in.

Guests love staying in places that have a fascinating history. Perhaps someone famous owned (or stayed at) your historic bed and breakfast.  You can mention that on your website and you can refer to that in a blog post.  Highlight the things that make your bed and breakfast unique and you will attract more visitors!

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