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.
|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.
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 woodwork was made of chestnut. The inn included a lobby with a large stone
fireplace, a dining room and kitchen, and eleven 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 of 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-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 Rd. 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
|The old Pisgah Inn served as
employee housing for many years,
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.
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 contact the
NC Room staff at 828-884-1820 or [email protected].