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 first impression upon walking into the Carolina B&B is one of warmth and welcome. The house is delightfully decorated with items that reflect the history of the building as well as the places where Susan and James lived.

— Zulfa, Houston, TX

A list of descriptors include: elegant, delicious, peaceful, fresh, friendly, helpful and a good deal considering all the amenities. We’ll never stay anywhere else.

— Morgan, Washington

A Note from Your Host…

It’s hard to think of holidays and vacations when we are battling hurricanes on our coastlines.  Our hearts go out to those in the path of the storms.  In order to help in some small way, we will donate $10/night for any stay booked for the month of September with us.  Please mention the Hurricane Relief Effort when booking on the phone or online.

Christmas and the the holidays are just around the corner.  This year’s Biltmore Candlelight Evening is entitled “A Vanderbilt Christmas”.  If you have never seen the Biltmore in full holiday splendor it is a lavish and glorious display of lights, decorations and live greenery, including a 40 foot tree in the main dining room.  Visit our Specials Page for details about our Christmas Special.

Unable to visit us right now?  Bring a touch of the Carolina Bed & Breakfast to your home with a purchase of my cookbook, Our Family Table: Recipes and Lessons From A Life Abroad.  It contains many of the recipes our guests enjoy and request at our inn as well as some easy recipes for small or larger groups.  You can order it on Amazon or by following the links on this page.