Update: Spring Goals

Well, it’s been a month since I set a few goals for the Spring. Following is the list:

  1. repair the “roof” of the gazebo which collapsed under the weight of the first snow we had in December.  After assessing the damage, I’m confident that with some new wood arms, I can repair the ones that broke.
  2. replace any dead plants and bushes around the patio areas and in containers. Plant new plants in the pergola area to continue filling it in as a garden area.
  3. replace some rotting wood around the front porch roof and outside the bay window of the dining room.
  4. build a small 4X6 vegetable/fruit garden outside the kitchen on the edge of the pergola/garden area. I would like to start small with a few vegetables and fruits and expand from there.
  5. research the feasibility of building and stocking a small chicken coop enclosure to provide eggs for cooking. This may not end up being a goal, it’s just an idea right now and I want to look into whether this is even something the city of Asheville will allow me to do.

At this point, I’m about 95% complete with the first goal of fixing the gazebo roof. My father and stepmother visited for a few days and they did a lot to get it repaired (actually, they did most of the work). I replaced one broken wood arm and my dad was able to get all of the arms up and back into their holder. The one casualty of the damage was to the canvas. When the roof fell, the canvas ripped in several places so it did not go back into the holder along with the arms (see photo).

As such, I had to staple the canvas to the tops of each arm. Unfortunately, it does not look the same and there are some rips and gaps. However, being the creative person that I am :0), I am going to attach more fabric to the underside of the arms so that nobody has to see the damaged canvas. By the time my readers come visit, the inside canvas should be up and I’ll be sure to make it look decorative so that it will appear good as new.

One goal – check!

I have begun working on goal #2 of replacing dead bushes and plants around the patio and garden areas and in containers. Today was the first day of warm weather and a free afternoon. I have started by pulling out dead stumps, cutting back bushes, branches, and dead grasses around the patios, gazebo, and front porch. On Friday, my landscapers start again for the year and will be cleaning up debris and leaves so that I can fully assess what needs to be replaced. I am really surprised that most everything I planted last year is coming back, given the cold, snowy winter. Some plants that I thought for sure were dead are sprouting leaves and buds. I may not have to replace as much as I had thought, but I anticipate completing this goal (or being close to completion) by the end of April.

Goal #3 is getting looked at on Friday.

I have the materials list for goal #4 and hope to start building the bed by next week; and to start filling it in within the next 2-3 weeks. I plan to start with tomatoes, peppers, basil, and mint and will go from there.

I have not even begun to look into goal #5. That will definitely be last on my list.

The good thing about publishing goals is that it’s not enough just to post them on the wall for me to see. By showing them to my readers, I feel more motivated to work on them.  Sharing goals with others means that more than one person is thinking about them, and not wanting to disappoint my readers, I am determined to accomplish them.

5 Reasons Why a Bed & Breakfast is a Great Option for Business Travelers

Very few business travelers consider staying at a bed & breakfast when traveling for work and they are really missing out! The average B&B offers so much more than a place to sleep and breakfast the next morning. More and more, they are expanding their offerings to include hosting events, fundraisers, cooking classes, and to entice the mid-week business traveler. Following is a list of five reasons why businesses should consider sending their employees to a bed and breakfast for their next trip:

  1. According to the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), 94% of B&Bs have private bathrooms for each room. It used to be that many times, guests had to share a bathroom with other guests which could not only be inconvenient, but embarrassing. Not so anymore. Innkeepers have recognized the need to offer private bathrooms along with private bedrooms so the instances of shared bathrooms are few and very far between. As an innkeeper, I am still surprised at the number of calls I receive where the caller is asking if my rooms have shared or private bathrooms. This is obviously a perception that can be laid to rest for the most part, but if the traveler has any concerns, most B&Bs have websites with room photos and descriptions which should indicate if a bathroom is private or shared.
  2. The 2009 PAII B&B Industry Study also indicates that 93% of bed & breakfasts offer FREE high speed (wireless) internet access. Many hotels still charge for internet access, but I don’t know of one bed & breakfast that does. At a hotel, if you want free internet, you have to wait in a line to use one of the few, highly-sought-after computers down in the lobby, sometimes floors and floors away from your room. How convenient is that?
  3. Not every business traveler is looking to hang out in the hotel bar when not working. For that person, the average bed & breakfast offers not only internet access in common areas, but games, free movies, a guest refrigerator with either free or reduced drinks, free snacks, magazines, and books. These personal touches in the bed and breakfast really go a long way to making the traveler feel welcome and valued during their stay. In many cases, special requests for something can and will be handled free of charge by the innkeeper.
  4. When traveling in an unfamiliar city, it can be nerve-wracking and time consuming to figure out where things are.  The average innkeeper is intimately invested in the city and is happy to speak with the traveler and point out favorite restaurants and attractions. They carry a large selection of brochures and maps and in many cases can give personal recommendations on must-see places. At a hotel, good luck getting recommendations on anything. There’s a good chance that the front desk personnel aren’t even familiar with the immediate area because they live no where close to the hotel.
  5. Finally, let’s talk about breakfast. As the second part of the bed and breakfast equation, the breakfast part is quite important. Every business traveler has different needs when it comes to breakfast and every B&B can work around those needs. Although every B&B has a different set up and schedule for their breakfast, just because the full breakfast is served at 9 am doesn’t mean that the business traveler has to miss out.  Speaking for my Inn, some business travelers can stay for the 9:00 breakfast, but many have to leave before then. I would never send a guest away hungry unless that is their preference. I keep a breakfast room stocked with continental breakfast items including oatmeal, milk/cereal, fresh fruit, bagels/cream cheese, and coffee. Not only is there a one-cup coffee maker upstairs for guests to help themselves to 24 hours a day, but there is a second coffee pot downstairs in the Breakfast Room with 24 hours access. In addition, I always ask my guests who are leaving early if there is anything special I can have for them to take like muffins, OJ, etc. Most B&Bs will offer the same type of option as well.

While I covered just 5 reasons for business travelers to stay at a bed and breakfast, there are more. Consider the fact that parking at a B&B is most likely more convenient than a hotel.  A B&B may even have space for small meetings. Invite your business comrades over to the B&B to get away from the office. The Innkeeper maybe able to set up a catered lunch for your group. I definitely recommend coordinating any onsite meetings with the Innkeeper first, but what a nice way to get out of the office for a couple of hours without distractions and noise. Lastly, many B&Bs offer access to or assistance with sending faxes and making copies (small quantities). Check with the Innkeeper to see what business services they offer. Most are FREE of charge, unlike the average hotel.

The average nightly rate at a B&B is around $150/night, but that varies widely by location, time of year, and room. Bed and Breakfasts WANT mid-week travelers and may offer a corporate discount or some other type of business traveler perk. Don’t assume out of hand that the bed & breakfast is too expensive because you will be surprised with the value you get for the cost. By the time the hotel has nickel and dimed you, you will probably have just paid as much as you would have by staying at the local B&B. However, you would not have gotten the friendly, knowledgeable service you would have received from the small historical house around the corner.

All Lodging Establishments Are Not Created Equal

Just because that cute little bed and breakfast with the cheap rate has a website doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate business.

I was talking to some guests the other day and they were commenting on the large number of B&Bs in Asheville (somewhere between 40-50 in the Asheville area).  I happened to mention that there are even more if you count the illegal B&Bs and vacation rental properties. Well, that started a round of questions.

What do you mean illegal B&Bs? How is that possible? How can we tell? And so on. So we talked for the next 20 minutes about ways to spot a legal versus illegal establishment. So for anyone else who might be wondering, keep these things in mind:

  • Legal lodging establishments comply with local, state and federal requirements including obtaining and displaying a business license and Health Department Inspection certificate. We all must display these in an area where guests can see them. Before you book with a place, ask them if they are licensed and inspected. Legitimate places will have no problem answering that question. And once you arrive, look for those certificates to make sure they are up to date. Remember that a health inspection means that the establishment is cleaning the property/dishes and storing food in the proper manner. They also check the guestrooms to make sure certain standards are met in cleanliness and room safety.
  • A legitimate establishment with 5 or more rooms is collecting and paying occupancy and sales taxes. If you are not being charged taxes, ask why not? If you are purchasing a package, ask if the taxes have been figured into the package price. In Buncombe County and the City of Asheville, tax paying properties (don’t assume a 4-room B&B is illegal because it does not have to collect taxes) get a listing on the official tourism website. If you come across lodging in the county that rents out 5 or more rooms and it’s not listed on exploreasheville.com, ask the owner some questions.
  • An illegal establishment is less likely to comply with fire and safety requirements because, quite frankly, they can be restrictive and/or costly to maintain. Ask if each guestroom has a fire detector and if the fire alarm system is monitored and hard wired to notify the fire department if it goes off. Are there fire extinguishers throughout the house and kitchen? Again, small establishments with under 5 rooms for rent are not considered as “commercial” properties and are not required to comply, but do you want to put your safety or the safety of your family at risk? Small B&Bs that operate on the up and up will take fire safety seriously and will have measures in place.
  • Find out if the establishment has liability insurance in case of an accident. Commercial lenders (and B&Bs of more than 5 rooms are usually considered commercial) require a certain amount of liability insurance. Even a place with less than 6 rooms should carry liability insurance if rooms are to be rented out for short or long-term.
  • In some areas, the proximity and number of B&Bs is limited. For instance, after 1997, in the Historic Montford District, no new B&Bs could be opened within 500 ft. of another B&B. All existing B&Bs were grandfathered in so that is why you see 2 and 3 in a row. But someone who wants to rent out their house for the summer that happens to sit next to an operating B&B is actually not permitted to, but people do it. Therefore, that house is illegally operating as a vacation property (not licensed, tax collecting, inspected, etc.). You should really think twice about renting it, just to save a few dollars because you could end up paying with much more than money.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for someone to make a little extra money by renting out their property, but I run my business legally and I feel that everyone else should too. An illegal B&B can undercut my prices because they aren’t collecting taxes or paying for a license or insurance. The trade-off as far as I’m concerned is too high. Just do yourself a favor and ask a few questions before booking your next trip, whether here (I hope it’s in Asheville) or Albuquerque or St. Augustine or Austin. You’ll feel a lot better knowing that your safety and comfort are worth more to the B&B owner than money.

Asheville & Beer: A Tastey Combination

In 2009, Asheville was barely edged out by Portland, OR as Beer City USA’s favorite place for beer. Didn’t know Asheville was even in the running? Well, Asheville has nine local breweries and brewpubs, and is adding more each year!  The city even offers a Brews Cruise that takes guests around to a few of the breweries to learn about each location’s special brews and allows guests to taste test their most popular brands. In addition, I just learned that downtown Asheville offers a beer-only shop! It’s called Bruisin’ Ales and a trip is definitely in order. This store boasts over 800 brews from around the world (and around the corner). You’ll find rare brews, exceptional seasonals, and other hard-to-find limited releases. The unique bottle shop set-up allows customers to “Mix-a-Six.”

The names of Asheville’s breweries are as creative as their beer. With names like Highland Brewing Company, French Broad Brewing Company, Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company, Pisgah Brewing Company, Wedge Brewing, OysterHouse Brewing, Craggie Brewing Company, Lexington Avenue Brewery and Green Man Ale & Brewing Company, you know you’re in for a real treat. In March 2010, a new brewery will be introduced to Asheville. Mother Earth Brewery will be adding to the increasing list of craft beers.

As some of my readers may know, I have teamed up with a Kook (cook), a charity, a band and a couple of Asheville’s local breweries for a one-of-a-kind weekend Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew to raise money for The Hope & Light Foundation.  I have donated the Inn for the weekend to Angela McKeller from Kick Back & Kook who will be offering beer and dessert tastings as well as cooking classes the weekend of June 4-5, 2010.  Davin McCoy & The Coming Attractions from Atlanta have donated their time and musical talents to come up to Asheville to play their brand of music (likened to Cat Stevens, Dave Matthews & Shawn Mullins).  The schedule for the weekend consists of:

  • Friday, June 4: 2:30 – 4:30 pm – Beer & Truffles ($29) – Think beer and chocolate don’t go together?  Pisgah Brewing will come by and explain the ins and outs of brewing, the difference between one brew and another and give a presentation on how to pair beer with chocolate!
  • Friday, June 4: 6-9 pm – Souffles Made Simple ($45) – French for “puff up”, Angela will demonstrate just how easy these seemingly difficult, but impressive dishes are for dinner and dessert! On the menu: Shrimp Soufflé with Creamy Dill Sauce; Spinach and Ricotta Soufflé and Dark Chocolate Soufflé.
  • Saturday, June 5: 1-3 pm – Simple Summer Desserts Sampling and Brew Tasting ($29) – On the menu: Chef Mike Carrino’s Cherry and Apple Tart to Angela’s own Flambéd Brandied Peaches to Chef Jerry Solomon’s Zabayon, a simple but delicious Italian custard served with mixed berries, you’ll experience it all!
  • Saturday, June 5: 6:30-9:30 pm – Iron Chef Competition ($65) – Paired off into two groups, munching on some of Angela’s most popular dips while you “kook”, two teams will go head to head, competing to see who can create the best meal of the evening! Who judges? You do! Everyone is given a score card to fill out without anyone else seeing. On a scale of 1-5, you try each others dishes and rate them, putting the score cards in a bowl for Angela to tally the scores while you finish dessert. The winning team gets a prize as “kooky” as Angela is!

This culinary fundraiser promises to be a real treat for everyone who attends. The beer/dessert pairings are open to 200 people each while the cooking classes are limited to 25 participants each. In addition to Pisgah Brewing, we are working with another local brewery for Saturday’s tasting and will announce who that will be once the details have been worked out.

Asheville already has five beer festivals throughout the year, including Winter Warmer, Oktoberfest, Baseball & Beers at McCormick Field, Beer City Brewfest and Brewgrass. Maybe the Feasting With Beer event will become the next annual festival.

Asheville Gets More Snow

Asheville was “lucky” enough to get another 6-7 inches of snow yesterday, March 2nd. Here are a few photos taken with the Photo Booth Plus application on my iPhone. You will see Rocky wiggling his way through the snow as fast as he could across the parking lot to get to the Inn so he can get inside and get warm!

The good news is that temperatures for the next couple of days will get up into the 40s and by Saturday/Sunday, we should be in the 50s. While this snow was especially beautiful, I am ready for it to melt.  I was out last night shoveling the walkway, a path to the walkway and the kitchen door and one parking spot.  If the remaining snow doesn’t melt, I’ll be shoveling a few more spots for this weekend’s guests.

To date, the Asheville area has seen snow accumulations in December, January, February, & now March. All told, the Inn has had close to 3 feet of snow (not all at once like my family in Virginia), but over 4 different snows, all added together. That’s outrageous!  We usually get 4-6″ a year.  And I won’t even talk about the cold temperatures! Suffice it to say, our averages have been 10 – 15 degrees below average all winter.

On a lighter note, I have seen a few green sprouts coming up before yesterday’s snow, which means that the first spring bulbs are not far behind.  I am quite excited to see some color on the ground within the next few weeks and will be snapping photos as soon as the daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips make their appearances.

My Goals for Spring

Once this dratted winter is finally gone, there will be some projects that I plan to work on around the Inn. Until the days stay warmer (40s and above), I can’t assess the entire property, but there are some things that I know will need to be done. Over the Winter, my major project was repainting the downstairs and upstairs common hall areas and stairway. The previous color is what I call salmon. I changed it to a light vanilla on the first floor and one shade darker on the second floor. With the exception of a patch of wall going up the stairs which I cannot reach, this has been accomplished. The unpainted patch will have to be done by a professional who has the proper scaffolding. I am quite pleased with the results. You can see the salmon pink color still on the wall in the first photo as a reference.

Now, I’m compiling a list of goals to accomplish during the Spring season. So far, here is what I’ve got:

  • repair the “roof” of the gazebo which collapsed under the weight of the first snow we had in December.  After assessing the damage, I’m confident that with some new wood arms, I can repair the ones that broke.
  • replace any dead plants and bushes around the patio areas and in containers. Plant new plants in the pergola area to continue filling it in as a garden area.
  • replace some rotting wood around the front porch roof and outside the bay window of the dining room.
  • build a small 4X6 vegetable/fruit garden outside the kitchen on the edge of the pergola/garden area. I would like to start small with a few vegetables and fruits and expand from there.
  • research the feasibility of building and stocking a small chicken coop enclosure to provide eggs for cooking. This may not end up being a goal, it’s just an idea right now and I want to look into whether this is even something the city of Asheville will allow me to do.

Spring is a short 3 months so I think this list is a good start and should keep me busy.  I will post updates and photos as I go along. I would love comments and advice from anyone with experience in any of these areas or things you experienced when working on a similar project yourself.

FREE Biltmore Tickets or Annual Pass

Book a 3-night reservation at 1847 Blake House Inn Bed & Breakfast for travel dates between April 3 – May 16 (that’s Biltmore’s Festival of Flowers) and be entered into a drawing for either 2 FREE tickets or 1 FREE Annual Pass.

Reservation must be booked between February 22 – March 23 to qualify for the drawing. Winner will be notified via email and will be featured on our Facebook Fan Page. No other specials or discounts may be applied to the winning reservation.

If you have been to Biltmore before, there is exciting news this year. The Estate will be opening the new Antler Hill Village, adjacent to the Winery and River Bend Farm. The Antler Hill Village will include a new exhibition space, village green with live entertainment, dining, shopping, and a new outdoor adventure center. As part of this project, Biltmore Winery will be enhanced to offer a newly-designed tour and tasting areas.

Because of the extraordinarily cold and snowy winter this year, we are all awaiting Spring and the massive flower display at Biltmore with excitement and anticipation.  Winning free tickets/annual pass is just the perfect excuse to come to Asheville and enjoy it all with us.

Asheville Festivals – Something For Everyone

Asheville offers an almost year-round festival schedule and you will find something for just about everyone from flowers to arts to sports to food to gay pride. I wasn’t even aware of some of these events until I decided to put together this blog and started doing some research. Starting in late January and going to November, this city stays busy!

Listed below are all the festivals I found, in chronological order, with a link (if I could find one) to the official website:

January

  • Asheville FringeArts Festival (held in late January – sorry, this one has already passed for 2010) – provides artists with opportunities to explore the edges of their work, collaborate across genres and bring new and innovative performances to culturally adventurous audiences.

February

March

  • Jazz After 5 Concert Series - Jazz After Five concludes Friday, March 12 from 5-8 pm, held at Pack Place. The Jazz evenings raise funds for operations of the Asheville Downtown Association and last year collected donations for Manna Food Bank. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable items to the concert and to leave them at the collection points.

April

  • Festival of Flowers – April 3 – May 16 – The Biltmore Estate – This year is the 25th anniversary of the “festival.” Herald spring at Biltmore with acres of blooms to boost your spirits and more Biltmore to enjoy than ever with the new Antler Hill Village.

May

  • Asheville Herb Festival – April 30 – May 2 – WNC Farmers Market – The WNC Chapter of the NC Herb Association represents the incredibly wide variety of herbalists and herb businesses in North Carolina: herb growers and vendors, natural gardening and landscaping specialists, and makers of herbal ointments, balms, soaps, teas, medicines, and other products.
  • Festival of Flowers – April 3 – May 16 – The Biltmore Estate – This year is the 25th anniversary of the “festival.” Herald spring at Biltmore with acres of blooms to boost your spirits and more Biltmore to enjoy than ever with the new Antler Hill Village.
  • Lake Eden Arts Festivel (LEAF) - May 6 – 9 – Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain, NC – a non-profit organization connecting cultures and creating community through music and arts.
  • Downtown After 5May 21 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Mountain Sports Festival – May 28 – 30 – Events are all over the greater Asheville area, but the Festival Village is located at Carrier Park on Amboy Road, along the French Broad River in West Asheville. From intense trail running to laid-back disc golf, from adventure racing to the Iron Kids events, from high speed track racing to whitewater kayak clinics… there is something here to entertain and challenge you!

June

  • Downtown After 5 – June 18 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.

July

  • Shindig on the Green - July 3, 10, 17, 31 – 7 pm – Pack Square green in downtown Asheville – This mountain tradition features an always-enjoyable variety of  Big Circle Mountain Dancers, Clog Dancers, Bluegrass and Old Time String Bands, Ballad Singers, and Storytellers.
  • Downtown After 5 – July 16 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Bele Chere – July 23 – 25 – downtown Asheville – Bele Chere is a street festival with a wide variety of arts, music, food, beverages, events, and children’s
    activities.

August

  • Mountain Dance & Folk Festival – August 5 – 7 – 7 pm – Diana Wortham Theater – Since 1928, mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, dancers, balladeers and others have come to enjoy themselves “along about sundown” the first weekend in August.
  • Shindig on the Green - August 14, 21, 28 – 7 pm – Pack Square green in downtown Asheville – This mountain tradition features an always-enjoyable variety of  Big Circle Mountain Dancers, Clog Dancers, Bluegrass and Old Time String Bands, Ballad Singers, and Storytellers.
  • Downtown After 5 – August 20 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Goombay! - August 27 – 29 – downtown Asheville – this African-Caribbean festival brings a variety of family-oriented entertainment from steel drums to African-American dancers to local Gospel groups to contemporary rhythm bands.

September

  • Shindig on the Green - September 4 – 7 pm – Pack Square green in downtown Asheville – This mountain tradition features an always-enjoyable variety of  Big Circle Mountain Dancers, Clog Dancers, Bluegrass and Old Time String Bands, Ballad Singers, and Storytellers.
  • Organic Fest – The website is still showing 2009 information, but check back for 2010 updates. The festival celebrates everything organic with live music, organic food, vendors, arts and crafts and a kids garden parade.
  • Downtown After 5 – September 17 – 5 – 9 pm – Lexington Avenue, between Hiawassee Street and I-240. Free live music and dancing starts at 5 pm with food and drink available for purchase.
  • Brewgrass Festival - Saturday, September 18, 2010 – Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Asheville, NC – Each year in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, we gather over 40 American breweries to showcase more than 120 different beers. We add a great lineup of national and regional bluegrass musicians and also feature a variety of area food vendors and plenty of water.

October

  • Blue Ridge Pride – October 2 – downtown Asheville – This event will encompass multiple events throughout the first week of October and culminate with an open festival at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Asheville, NC. In addition to live entertainment throughout the day, there will be vendor as well as educational booths.
  • Lake Eden Arts Festivel (LEAF) - October 14 – 17 – Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain, NC – a non-profit organization connecting cultures and creating community through music and arts.

November

  • Asheville Film Festival – website is still showing 2009 dates, but check back for 2010 updates – The Asheville Film Festival is produced by the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department. The festival offers screenings, panel discussions, special presentations, and more.

Series: National Register of Historic Places Nomination

S. Lorraine Norwood, MA, RPA
Senior Associate
Manager, CRM/NEPA Department
Terracon
2855 Premiere Parkway, Suite C I Duluth, Georgia 30097
P [770] 623-0755, ext. 304 I F [770] 623-9628 I M [678] 372-3770
slnorwood@terracon.com

I’m happy to report that we’re coming down the home stretch on listing the marvelous Blake House on the National Register of Historic Places. Ann Swallow, the National Register Coordinator with the State Historic Preservation Office, has completed a second review of the nomination and supporting documentation.  She has requested some additional information and research, and once this is done, the nomination will be reviewed by the Certified Local Government before heading toward an April deadline for submittal to members of the NRHP review board who meet in June.

As you can see, there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get a property on the National Register!  Before we got to this point, we had to take measurements of all the rooms, windows, and doors, and note whether any architectural changes had been made and when.  Tracking down dates has been very difficult.  We have records from the Buncombe County Tax Assessor and the Deeds Office, but nailing down some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to the house is impossible due to the death of previous owners.  Fortunately we have newspaper clippings, diary entries, old photographs, and archival documents.

One of the most interesting things to come out of the second NRHP review is Ann Swallow’s happy “accident” at finding an exact replica of the Blake House in an 1842 book of house plans called Cottage Residences by Andrew Jackson Downing.  It’s amazing to think that in the 1850s, the Blakes had access to a book of house plans, much like modern consumers have access to plans in “Southern Living” or other architectural books and magazines.  Downing’s drawing of “a cottage in the English, or Rural Gothic Style” is a dead ringer for the Blake House down to the kitchen wing on the rear and the bay window off the parlour.  Downing designed the cottage for what he called “internal convenience”.  By that he meant that there are “many families mainly composed of invalids, or persons advanced in years, who have a strong preference for a plan in which the kitchen, and at least one bedroom, are upon the same floor with the living rooms, and in which there is little or no necessity for ascending or descending stairs; an exercise which, though of little consequence to the young and robust, is of all others the most fatiguing to the infirm, or those in delicate health.”

We’re not sure if the Blake family had a member in delicate health who needed the downstairs bedroom, but that’s part of the additional information which we hope to dig up in the next few weeks.  We do know that at some point, the downstairs bedroom was turned into a doctor’s office for Dr. Frederick Blake, the son of Daniel Blake, a rich South Carolina rice planter, who built the house.  The Blakes were a fascinating family who had ties to Charleston, South Carolina and Hendersonville, North Carolina.  More details and hopefully good news about the nomination in our next blog.

Added by Leslie:

This NRHP nomination has been very long and arduous I’m sure for Lorraine and her team. They first started in July 2007 and so I am very anxious at this point for a resolution.

I have the book that Lorraine mentions above and have taken a few photos so that you can see the similarities. The Parlour and Library are now the Inn’s Dining Rooms, the Bedroom is now the Inn’s Parlor and the entrance from the parking lot, the Kitchen is the Inn’s Rose Room which was my Gift Shop before that and the Labrador Landing Pub when I bought the Inn. Lastly, the Closet & Pantry are now the Inn’s Breakfast Room so you can see they are one room and are closed off from the Dining Room/Library on the other end which used to be open.

This book is available to guests so you will have to check it out when you come.Enjoy the photos!

Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference

This weekend (2/19 – 2/21) is the 22nd Annual Arts & Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. The conference is a one-of-a-kind event that includes workshops, educational opportunities, and tours of everything related to the arts & crafts movement. The conference also includes an arts & crafts antiques show, a book show, and a contemporary craftsfirm show.

For anyone interested, I have 4 FREE tickets for entry into the Antiques Show, the Contemporary Craftsfirms Show and the Books, Magazines & More Show for all three days. Each general admission ticket costs $10, but they are free to the next two reservations at Blake House Inn for this weekend.

Just taking a trip over to the Grove Park Inn (it’s about 25 minutes from Blake House) is worth it. The resort has several restaurants, a magnificent spa, and lots of nooks and crannies just to hang out in and people watch or read a book while enjoying the splendor of this early 1900s building.

Let me know when you make your reservation that you would like tickets and they will be here when you arrive. I’ve only got 4 left so once they are gone, they’re gone.

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