Blake House History
1847 Blake House Inn Bed & Breakfast, a premier Asheville inn, was originally an estate named Newington by Dr. Frederick Blake, was built circa 1847 by Joseph B. Pyatt. Dr. Blake’s father, Daniel Blake, Sr., a wealthy rice plantation owner from Charleston, S.C., first purchased the property that our Asheville inn sits on as well as over 500 acres in the late 1820′s. Daniel built a similar house in what is now Fletcher called the Meadows and sold the land where Blake House sits to Joseph Pyatt. After building Blake House, Mr. Pyatt sold the house and surrounding property to Daniel’s son, Dr. Frederick Rutlege Blake, a medical officer in the Confederate Army, who was wounded in the second Battle of Cold Harbor. Although the house was originally built as a summer retreat from the hot, humid Charleston heat, Dr. Blake made the house his permanent residence. During the Civil War, Dr. Blake who was an aide to, then, Colonel Clingman, traveled with the army and allowed his house to be used as a Confederate Field Hospital during his absence. Legend says that the Confederate nurses also cared for injured Union soldiers, hiding them, it is said, in the crawlspaces under the house. There has even been mention of an underground tunnel system under Blake House and the property that was used as part of the Underground Railroad. The current Innkeeper has not been able to substantiate this claim, but it provides for some great folklore.
The house is a rare example of Italianate architecture with Gothic Revival influence. Its original native stone walls are 22″ thick and are held together with lime and clay mortar. Both levels of the house boast of 12′ – 14′ ceilings and the dining rooms still contain some of their original ornamental plaster decorations.
The spacious first floor boasts two large dining rooms, capable of holding up to 50 people, a Parlor with seating for 10, Breakfast Room with guest refrigerator, commercial-sized kitchen and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. The second floor contains five guest bedrooms, all with private bathrooms, three that are original to the house, and two that were added in the early- to mid-1900s. There are five gas fireplaces on the first floor and three gas fireplaces on the second floor, enough to keep everyone warm on cold winter nights. Most of the flooring throughout the house is the original heart pine floors.
Blake House as a Asheville Inn and B&B
The house was converted to an Asheville inn and started life as a bed and breakfast in the early 1990′s. It has gone through many renovations since then. At one time, the B&B had an operating restaurant and bar. Since Ms. Kimball purchased the Inn in January 2006, she has converted what was the Labrador Landing Pub (bar/lounge area) into a gift shop, then into a first floor wheelchair accessible guestroom in 2008, now the Rose Room. She has added central air conditioning to the upstairs guestrooms and made many other cosmetic and functional changes to make the Inn feel more comfortable and welcoming to guests, their children, and pets.
Blake House Today
In 2010, after a 3-year process, Blake House was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Innkeeper maintains a thick binder with information and photos of the house and its history throughout the years, including the nomination application and documentation. There is some interesting and unexpected information for guests to read about the Blake family as well as previous owners of the house.
Leslie has also made great strides in making the Asheville inn a “green” property by recycling, installing tankless water heaters in the Carriage House and the main house, asking guests to conserve water by reusing their towels more than once, setting up a rain barrel and doing away with bottled water in favor of a water cooler. In 2010, she became a proud partner with Clean the World, a non-profit that distributes recycled soap products, along with appropriate educational materials, to impoverished countries worldwide, and to domestic homeless shelters. Leslie sends unused soap and bottled amenities to the organization for their recycling program. If you would like to support other B&Bs that have partnered with Clean the World, please visit their B&B Partner Page. With the help of her son, Brian, Leslie built a small garden outside the kitchen in 2010 to grow vegetables and fruits for use in breakfast cooking. She now has plans (really dreams) of converting some space around the kitchen to a greenhouse as well as a chicken coop.
As one of a handful of local pet-friendly B&Bs, we take great pains to remove animal fur and debris from the house. We use eco-friendly animal cleaning products and make sure that no pet smells linger. Although our resident house cat, Rocky, is about and quite friendly, we do not allow him in guestrooms ever and ask guests to keep him out of their room, even though you may want to snuggle with the big fur ball. We have to keep rooms dander-free in case guests have cat allergies. We are happy to recommend other B&Bs within the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association that do not allow pets if a potential guest has any concerns about their allergies.