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The Blowing Rock inn is one of the last grand manor hotels in Western North Carolina. Photo by Jeff Eason

Originally published: 2012-09-20 20:46:27
Last modified: 2012-09-20 20:46:27

Green Park joins Historic Hotels

The historic Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock announces that it has joined Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Green Park Inn, the last of the grand manor hotels in Western North Carolina, is one of 244 hotels and resorts throughout the country that is recognized by Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture and ambiance.

Manor hotels were built in the style of houses — as opposed to the urban hotels of the era, which were “high rise” in style — and were typified by the elegance and superior service one might expect in a country manor home.
Manor guests dressed for dinner each evening, and dining was an evening-long experience generally accompanied by music and dancing. Following dinner, the gentlemen often retired to the veranda, or parlor, to enjoy a cigar, while they contemplated the issues of the day, while the ladies collected in the “living room” to plan their social engagements for the week, or for the month.

“The trend of cultural travel in America continues to grow,” said Thierry Roch, executive director of Historic Hotels of America.
“By inviting the Green Park Inn into our collection of distinguished properties, we are continuing to encourage historic preservation, while at the same time showcasing this hotel’s rich history, Roch said. “Our goal is to bring these historically special hotels and their authentic experiences to the attention of the traveling public.”

To be selected for membership in Historic Hotels of America, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance. The Green Park Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the North Carolina State Register.

“We’re very pleased and excited to affiliate with this impressive group of properties, all of which have dedicated themselves, and their resources, to the restoration and preservation of these national treasures” said Lorry Mulhern, general manager of the hotel.

The Green Park Inn is rich in history and architectural integrity. Opened in 1891, in the Queen Anne Victorian style, the hotel was then the most modern accommodation in the High Country, offering amenities such as hot and cold baths, electric bells to summon serving staff and fresh water drawn from its mountain spring. The hotel was the first to provide electricity to each of its guest rooms and it also contained a telegraph and post office.

These “luxuries,” combined with a very active social agenda, from nightly dinner dances to sharpshooting demonstrations and lessons by Annie Oakley, made the hotel a magnet for city dwellers seeking a respite from the summer heat, in the cool mountain breezes of Blowing Rock.

Throughout the decades and generations the grand dame has hosted such historic and memorable figures as Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Clark Hoover, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, the author Margaret Mitchell (who penned a portion of “Gone With the Wind” while a guest at the hotel), as well as Marilyn Monroe, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart. In mid-2010, the hotel was purchased by brothers Steve and Gene Irace, who undertook a major restoration of the hotel that included substantial repairs and upgrades to the building’s infrastructure systems, numerous structural and architectural repairs, as well as completely refurnishing the hotel with the addition of modern amenities, such as buildingwide Wifi and flat screen televisions.

The hotel once again includes a fine dining restaurant, a full service tavern, as well as frequent musical entertainment and special-themed dining events.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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