History

Our North Carolina bed and breakfast, located at 177 Cumberland Avenue has a varied and interesting history.

Its builder, Richard Sharp Smith, was the Supervising Architect of the Biltmore Estate following the death of Richard Hunt in 1895.  He stayed on in Asheville and designed many homes and prominent buildings here.   The Carolina Bed & Breakfast, an Arts & Crafts Style house, is a fine example of Smith’s preference for pebble-dash, shingles, high-pitched roofs, and heavy stone foundations

The historic Asheville home was built in 1901 for Maria Brown.  But Maria never lived here; she married and moved away from Asheville. Instead, her brother, W. Vance Brown, moved in with his wife Daphne. Like the present owners, W. Vance Brown, was an American Expat, the child of a diplomat, who lived in New Zealand before returning to the United States as a young man. He and his wife had five children, all of whom were born in the house, before the early death of Daphne in 1916. Brown remarried and continued living in the house until his death in 1933. He was a solid citizen of Asheville, president of the Asheville Mica Mining Company, a member of the school board, active in his church, and even served on the North Carolina Tax Board. Both his second wife and his daughter, Daphne, were officers of the local Junior League Chapter. In many ways, their lives mirror the history of Asheville prior to the 1930s.

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Asheville hard with many business and bank failures. The house at 177 Cumberland Avenue was sold to George Webb and his wife, and they turned it into a boarding house. Asheville legend has it that their young son, David, took a jewelry making course with the WPA and soon was ensconced in the cottage on the rear of the property where he made ashtrays and other small items, which he peddled around town. In other accounts, David was apprenticed to his uncle’s silver making factory at age fourteen. In any case, by the time he was seventeen, he had moved to New York City and embarked on an illustrious career as a jewelry designer to the President and movie stars. David Webb jewelry has been worn by the rich and famous ranging from Jackie Kennedy to Gwen Stefani. His trademark look includes jewel-encrusted animal figures such as leopards and frogs wrought in gold and platinum with inlayed diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. David died in 1975, and the house grew quiet.

In 1983, as Asheville began its resurgence to the vibrant town it has become, 177 Cumberland Avenue was bought by Karen and Sam Fain and became the Carolina Bed & Breakfast.

Then, in 2008, James and Susan Murray returned to the United States after 27 years overseas. They chose beautiful, historic Asheville as their new home and bought the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in September of 2009. Under their care the house and garden have been lovingly restored.  Heart pine floors glow in the sunlight and the original coal fireplaces in the spacious bedrooms  have been retrofitted with gas for your comfort and enjoyment.  The public rooms and front porch are much loved by our guests who choose to relax there while the kitchen functions at the center of the house providing guests with wonderful home-baked foods.  Details throughout the house reflect the Arts and Crafts Movement inspired by nature, local materials, and the expression of skill.

Our Guests Say...

The Robin’s Nest room was small and cozy and out of the way, which is just what we were looking for. The bed was plush and there is a great corner gas fireplace that kept the room toasty.

— Andrew, Decatur, GA

Clean, stylish and simple interiors and very friendly staff made this a top notch experience. Food was four star, fresh beautifully prepared and delicious. The bed was heavenly. Location was central to everything. We would stay there again and have already recommended it to our friends.

— Knossos1, Chester, VT

A Note from Your Host…

The peonies of May are finished in our garden and the daisies of June and July are spreading their color, flanked by roses and nasturtiums. Our tomato plants are lush and already heavy with fruit.  The jalapenos are gifting me with their usual non-stop harvest and this year, at last, I might get a zucchini or two!  It is summer in Western North Carolina with long hot days and nights cooled by the mountain breeze.  The ceiling fans revolve in a lazy circle over the porch swing.  It’s a perfect vantage point to watch the children ride by on their bikes and listen to the birds as they sing in the trees.  This is when “seasonal” cooking really comes into its own.  Each week brings a new pleasure from the early radishes and sweet peas of summer to the red plums of June and the sweet peaches of July and August.  With so much abundance it is hard to decide what to make for our guests so every week brings something new to the table.

We love our town and our mountains and look forward to welcoming you to the Carolina Bed & Breakfast!