I've been reading a lot about the Vanderbilt family recently, which has reminded me of our stay in Asheville, NC in 2013.
No we did not stay in the 250 room chateau built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. In fact we didn't even get near the grounds of the famous mansion. Tickets to get on the property cost $59.00. (We visited the Blue Ridge Mountains for free) But we did stay a mile away at the North Lodge On Oakland.
The Garrett House
Robert Garrett built this home for himself and his wife in 1904. It was one of 15 houses in the affluent town of Victoria, just a mile between the Biltmore Estate and downtown Asheville.
Today the house sits on a grand lawn, looking across the road towards some very modest homes.
A New Look
The home originally was a shingle-style cottage with porches up and down on both sides of the house.
New owners in the 1930's added the lower stonework and porte- cochere.
The place certainly looked restful as we approached on a May afternoon.
But what we didn't realize was that this home had been transformed into a tuberculosis rest home in 1923. The porches were closed in to provide more bed space.
There was a nice little welcoming porch with a bench, but I would love to have seen it when long porches lined the house.
By the 1880's Asheville had become the nation's foremost medical center for tuberculosis research and treatment. Our little B & B getaway had once housed folks suffering from TB, the number 1 cause of death at the time. A pleasant thought.
Luckily, there was no hospital feel once we stepped inside. The rock room in the front of the house, had once been the porch. The white board ceiling and smooth floor boards made the space cozy.
I would have liked a porch with rocking chairs, but the room at least offered coffee and cookies, as well as a library of DVDs, which we actually made use of.
The living room was very sweet and immaculate.
It's hard to believe this beautiful home was condemned by the city in 1987. How lucky for all, that a couple bought the property and spent 5 years renovating.
Our room wasn't the largest, but we had loads of books to chose from and so many windows!
There was a small fireplace and lots of lush green outside every window. The bathroom made you feel like you were outdoors, with the flowered wallpaper and garden views.
I have no photos of our breakfast, but this is where we shared the table with some other guests and enjoyed a 3-course meal.
You never know what kind of conversation you'll have at a B & B table. A know-it-all motorcycle couple balanced out a youthful couple who talked about being in theatre as children.
My best memory is, lounging in the gazebo. We popped some popcorn, that was available to guests and made some gin and tonics and had our own little happy hour in the garden.
There was a trickling fountain, lots of bird activity and some lovely deep-toned chimes, that came to life with a gentle breeze!
I loved that our B&B had some curious history. Yes, I really did want to steal a peek inside that grand Biltmore, and learn more about affluent family that once roamed the halls and grounds. But our house was grand enough for me.
Best of all, I loved that we could easily walk a mile into town and enjoy Asheville, then escape to our quiet garden in the evening!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!