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Bringing The History Of The Pisgah Inn To Life

Picturing The Past  

 

Last updated 8/24/2020 at 3:18pm

The entrance to the original Pisgah Inn featured exposed log trusses and bracing. To the left of the entrance was the exterior of the field stone fireplace, which was the focal point of the lobby.

George Weston was raised in Buncombe County and served as Biltmore Estate's superintendent of farms in the late 1800s and early 1900s before moving to New York for several years. After returning to Western North Carolina, Weston obtained a concession permit from the U.S. Forest Service to build an inn near Mt. Pisgah in the newly established Pisgah National Forest.

Weston and his wife, Mary Cynthia, spent the summer of 1919 camping nearby while their rustic inn was being constructed. The large, two-story structure sat on a stone foundation with log piers supporting the porch. Rough-sawn timber was used as board-and-batten exterior siding.

In the interior the wainscoting, bookshelves, post-and-lintel ceiling supports and other wood-work was made of chestnut. The inn included a lobby with a large stone fireplace, a dining room and kitchen, and 11 guest rooms. Porches and terraces offered specular panoramic views. Mrs. Weston's native plant gardens were always open for a pleasant stroll or for botany students to study. There were four cottages for visitors, as well.

Originally known as the Pisgah National Forest Inn, references to the Pisgah Forest Inn, Old Pisgah Lodge, Pisgah Motor Lodge and Pisgah Inn are also found. By whatever name, the inn was popular among leading businessmen, architects, foresters and wealthy tourists. Many guests braved the difficult journey to return year after year.

After the Westons retired in 1937 ownership and management of the Inn, which had several years remaining on the original 30-year lease, changed a couple of time. In October 1951, Leslie and Leda Kirschner took over its operation.

In the early 1960s, when the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to Wagon Gap Road was finally scheduled to be completed, the property was transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service. Anticipating an increase in visitors and concerned about the condition of the old inn the National Park Service demanded major improvements, including a new inn before extending the concession contract.

The Kirschners joined with several investors to construct the current Pisgah Inn, which opened in 1966. Although efforts were made to save the original structures, they were eventually taken down in 1990.

A detailed architectural description, with historical context, can be found in a Historic American Buildings Survey by the National Park Service and in the 1982 National Register of Historic Places nomination form. Both are available in the Local History Room at the library.

The old Pisgah Inn served as employee housing for many years, 1984.

Historical photographs of the early inn and cabins, the present inn and the surrounding area are featured in Marci Spencer's new book, "Pisgah Inn," which is part of the Images of America series.

Although Spencer's presentation on the history of the Pisgah Inn for the library's June 2020 Bag Lunch program was cancelled we hope to reschedule it at a later date.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or [828] 884-1820.)

 
 

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