About Our Historic Waynesville Bed and Breakfast Inn
Built in 1910 by James H. and Pearl Howell, our beautiful, Colonial Revival style home has been a family residence providing guests with Waynesville and Maggie Valley, NC lodging in one way or another since 1911, when Mrs. J.H. Howell (Pearl) established it as a Tourist Home and gave it the name “Windover.” Entire families came from warmer climates like the Piedmont and Coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia from Memorial Day to Labor Day to stay cool in the Howell’s home. As one of Waynesville’s featured boarding houses in a 1911 publication titled Cool Places in Summertime: Resorts along the Southern Railway, Premier Carrier of the South, it’s noted that reservations were made “on application” at Windover. The original Windover sign, a reminder of the era when Waynesville, not Asheville, was the Western North Carolina town to visit, now hangs on the veranda side of our front porch.
The Howells’ good taste and appreciation of quality workmanship is evident in the design of the home, and also in the details of the home’s exquisite woodwork and tile fireplaces.
James H. Howell, or the Colonel, as Pearl called him, grew up on a nearby Jonathan Creek farm and was an attorney in Haywood County. He fought in World War I, and later served his community as the Post Master and Mayor of Waynesville, and eventually became a Legislative Representative for the area.
Pearl, who grew up on a Virginia plantation, married James in 1908. She managed the Windover, which originally offered four guest rooms and had a staff of at least three or four people to cook and clean. Some of the staff was local, but some came from other areas and resided in a small stone house built behind the main house. Guests were served three meals a day and joined by Pearl and the Colonel, who sat at the heads of a long, trestle dining table with staff serving meals in crisp aprons and lacy caps.
After James and Pearl passed away, their only child, James H. Howell II, who lived with his wife and two children in the stone house built next door, sold the Howell house in 1980 to Reimar and Judy Steffen, who worked hard to restore the beauty of this stately home.
As manager of the Waynesville Country Club, Reimar had resources in craftsmen and suppliers available to assist him and Judy in the renovation. After raising their four children and hosting many guests, (including international guests attending the annual Folkmoot Festivals and gingerbread gatherings), Judy and Reimar decided to reopen Windover, as The Windover Inn Bed & Breakfast in 2003. An artist, Judy used her creativity and resourcefulness to design a sign from a discarded lavatory door from the country club.
In March of 2004, the Steffens sold The Windover Inn to Jeff and Pam Ferree, who closed it for 7 months to add air conditioning, whirlpool tubs, and an additional third-floor guest room. The combination of Jeff’s contracting skills and Pam’s decorating skills brought The Windover Inn’s comforts into the 21st century, while creating an early 20th century atmosphere and décor. The Windover was reopened in October of 2004 and put on the market for sale as a bed and breakfast with its first official logo, designed by Jeff, which is still used today with some added personal touches of our own.
On a cool day in March 2006, we visited The Windover Inn with our inn broker. It was one of several properties we saw that week. Three years earlier, we had started our research to follow our dream of owning and operating a bed and breakfast. One research trip brought us to a bed and breakfast in Asheville. While investigating the bed and breakfast business in that area we stumbled upon Waynesville when exiting the Blue Ridge Parkway for lunch one day. We fell in love with the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the welcoming, quaint feeling of this small town. Waynesville, NC was definitely the location for us, now we just needed to find the right bed and breakfast.
Deciding on the perfect bed and breakfast turned out to be a challenge, but our diligence was rewarded. Months went by and we revisited The Windover Inn and stayed overnight. We awoke to the comforting feeling of being home and realized at that moment this was the right place for us.
In August 2006, we purchased our home, The Windover Inn. Since our ownership, we have created outdoor living spaces for our guests with landscaping, fencing, and lighting. We have painted the outside of the house, restored the roof and added our own sign. We’ve embraced our new town and are involved in our community. Having our own business allows us to live a lifestyle important to us – a lifestyle of giving back. We make sure we are mindful of our impact on the environment and recycle, use a rain barrel, energy saving light bulbs, we compost and have an organic garden. We incorporate our giving directly from our room rentals, and have designated specific organizations to receive $1 per room rented in specific months with the hope that as our business grows, so too will our giving!
In June of 2010, we were honored by having “The James Harden and Pearl Howell House-Windover” designated as a Local Historic Landmark by the Town of Waynesville. In January of 2011, we celebrated this distinction by having a 100th birthday party complete with a ribbon cutting by the Mayor and over 60 guests including the granddaughter of James and Pearl Howell, Reimar and Judy Steffen, and Fay, one of the former employees of the inn in the 1950’s who still lives in a nearby town. The Spring of 2011 also marked the 100th year since Pearl opened these doors to guests, so this was a double birthday and one that makes us feel grateful that we have been able to maintain a tradition of hospitality at The Windover Inn that reaches back, now over 100 years! In October of 2014, we were able to reconnect the original Howell property, adding the house next door for our living quarters and family space, a home that was built for James Harden and Pearl’s son and his wife and their two grandchildren, and now is a wonderful space for our own grandchildren when they visit!
Eight years later, we were honored and proud to have Windover entered into The National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is a list of properties “significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, and culture – a comprehensive index of the significant physical evidences of our national patrimony.”
Year after year, we are still in awe of our beautiful surrounding mountains; still wake up to that feeling of comfort and warmth: and are proud to be the stewards of this beautiful home first created and maintained by the Howells and cared for thereafter by those who truly respected its history.
Come explore the beauty of the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway . . . come enjoy the comfort and warmth of our lovely historic home . . . we’d love to share them all with you! Glenn and Jen