Tourism brochures dating from around 1907 through 1929 invite “vacationists” to relax in the small-town comforts of Brevard and Transylvania County. Although there were several larger hotels including the Aethelwold and Franklin Inn in Brevard and Lake Toxaway Inn, many visitors chose to stay at the less expensive and homier boarding houses. Rates ranged from $5-15 per week and included meals.
Boarding houses provided a home-like atmosphere with fresh, wholesome meals in settings ranging from stately town homes to quiet country places. The houses were large with spacious rooms. Families could stay in one room or have a suite of rooms depending on their needs. Many also offered sleeping porches to enjoy the cool, fresh mountain air at night. Amenities included electric lights, modern plumbing with baths, and telephone service. The emphasis was on healthy living. Most of their time was spent outdoors or at social gatherings.
Changing lifestyles and improvements to the roads and transportation introduced new expectations for the ideal vacation by mid-century. Tourists were looking for more privacy and freedom. Tourist or motor courts provided a room with a private bath and parking. Guests set their own schedules for meals and could come and go at their leisure.
Beginning in the 1940s Brevard saw a boom of tourist courts and roadside motels. Tourist courts were a group of small separate cabins for travelers. They typically included a bedroom, bathroom, and sometimes a kitchenette. The Pisgah Motor Court on Hendersonville Highway opened in the mid-1940s and was among the early tourist courts in Transylvania County. Other local tourist courts during the 1950s and 1960s included Cascade Cabins on Cascade Lake in Little River, Flamingo Motel on the Asheville Highway, Mt. Toxaway Lodge and Cabins, Rockwood Motor Court in Penrose, and White Swan Motor Court on the Asheville Highway.
Motels offered the accommodations of tourist courts under one roof, typically rooms were accessed from the outside. Many motels also offered air conditioning, television, and heated swimming pools. The Deerfield Motel (later Brevard Motor Lodge) on North Caldwell Street opened in 1954. This was followed by the Sunset Motel on South Broad Street, Forest Gate Motel in Pisgah Forest, and the Imperial Motor Lodge on the Asheville Highway. Today short-term rentals like Air BnBs are more widespread, though a slight return toward hotels and tourist courts may be occurring. Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article is a reprint of an August 8, 2016 article written by local historian Marcy Thompson. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.