A Fall Evening at The Windover Inn Bed & Breakfast

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Windover Inn Is Now A "Historic" North Carolina Bed and Breakfast




Two weeks ago the Town of Waynesville aldermen passed an ordinance designating "Windover - The James Harden and Pearl Howell House" as a local historic landmark. Jen and I attended the meeting to witness the process and to celebrate our property's place in the history of Waynesville. A picture of The Windover Inn appeared on a large TV monitor at the front of the meeting room as the town planner described our property to the aldermen and they discussed the ordinance. Each alderman and the mayor had the same picture of Windover on their respective monitors. When they passed the ordinance without a dissenting vote, we were thrilled!! This was the culmination of over a year of researching our home and the family who built it, writing and re-writing the proposal, meeting with the Historic Preservation Commission on several occasions, and reviewing our information with the Town Planner and the Preservation Specialist from the State Historic Preservation Office in Asheville. As an added bonus, the Historic Preservation Commission included our residence in their pamphlet entitled "Historic Waynesville, A Self-Guided Tour" released just a week after Windover was approved as a local landmark. The picture above is the one they used in the pamphlet.

Researching our home turned into a gift from the past we gave to ourselves. The Howells and thier contemporaries came to life as we learned more and more about James Harden Howell's family who came here from Virginia in the early 1800's, and Pearl Marshall, the daughter of a northern Viriginia planation owner whom James met at Eastern College in Front Royal, Va. at the turn of the 20th century and married in 1908. Our research included online books, maps, and newspapers, as well as visits to the local library's archives. But the most interesting and rewarding research were the personal interviews with the grandchildren of James Harden and Pearl, as well as with Waynesville locals who knew the Howell family. It was exciting to view our home and B&B from a new perspective; visualizing Pearl's garden parties and soires held in the grand hallway and dining room, Pearl and James sitting at opposite ends of a long trestle table in the dining room along with their summer guests being served by the wait staff, of the families arriving from the coastal Carolinas and Georgia for the summer during the Roaring 20's, and of Pearl addressing her husband as 'Colonel'. There were many such stories about Pearl and James that didn't make the official report, but that added so much character and texture to our knowledge of the family who built this house! For instance, Pearl had the house built as a "tourist home" and opened it as such in 1911. She told her granddaughter this was one of the only ways for a "respectable woman to earn a living in those days".

Several years after the Howells passed away, Judy and Reimar Steffen purchased this residence from the Howell estate in 1981 when it was in a state of disrepair and saved it from the wrecking ball. They modernized the house and enclosed the side porch over the 22 years they resided here and raised their family. They are well know to this area as a family actively involved in their community. At the turn of the 21st century they opened and operated a B&B and aptly named it "Windover". Pam and Jeff Ferree purchased the residence in the spring of 2004 and further modernized the house with HVAC systems on each floor, whirlpool tubs in the suites, and period painting of the interior and re-opened it as a modern B&B by the same name in the fall of 2004.

As the fourth owners of "Windover" in the 100 years of its existence, we are honored to continue a tradition of hospitality and welcoming at our B&B that reaches back a century. Like those who came before us, we feel we are stewards of this wonderful house and pledge to care for it lovingly and treat our guests now and in the future in the manner expected of those who came before them.