Our Asheville Bed and Breakfast, located at 177 Cumberland Avenue , has a varied and interesting history. Its builder, Richard Sharp Smith, was the Senior 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 young wife Daphne and they built their life together here. 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 1930’s.
The Great Depression of the 1930’s hit Asheville hard with many business and bank failures. The house at 177 Cumberland Avenue was sold to George and Elizabeth (Elsa) Webb 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 during the depression 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. His designs were worn by Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Gloria Vanderbilt and Barbara Streisand among others and even today, stars such as Gwen Stefanie, Beyoncé and designers like Tory Burch wear his pieces. His trademark look includes jewel-encrusted animal figures such as zebras, leopards and frogs wrought in gold and platinum with inlaid diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. President Kennedy and the former Mrs. Kennedy had commissioned Mr. Webb to make gifts of state, among them jeweled paperweights for the late Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of West Germany King Hassan II of Morocco and Amintore Fanfani of Italy. He also designed the Freedom Medal for President Kennedy. David died in December 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.
Over the years since, the Carolina Bed & Breakfast has had a number of loving caretaker owners. Under their guidance and care, the house and gardens have been beautifully 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. The kitchen functions at the center of the house providing guests with wonderful homemade foods. Details throughout the house reflect the Arts and Crafts Movement and the decor is inspired to be relaxing and soothing by nature.
On March 27, 2018 the Carolina Bed & Breakfast was purchased by Diana Thornton and Kevin Gero from Susan and James Murray. Diana and Kevin instantly fell in love with this beautiful home and with the city of Asheville. They are delighted to welcome guests into their new home and to have them witness the excitement of their new adventure.