Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Highlands was founded in 1875 by two developers who reputedly took a map and drew two straight lines – one from New York to New Orleans and the second from Chicago to Savannah. They predicted these would become America’s great trade routes and the point of their intersection was sure to develop into a bustling metropolis. Instead, it was the natural beauty of the area that became its hallmark, beckoning an eclectic mix of landowners, industrialists, artists, musicians, scholars, and scientists. In 1878, John Norton erected Highlands’ first boarding house, aptly named the Central House. Fifteen years later, “Uncle Dave” Norton installed a post office in the granite store on the same property, which soon became known as the Rock Store. In 1925, the town’s police chief, “Diamond Joe” Edwards and his wife, Minnie, expanded Central House into a more stately structure, with a two-story addition and dormers. A few years later, Minnie hired Wilton Cobb, owner of the local hardware store to build a new hotel on the site of the old Rock Store. Thankfully, the store was kept as the structure’s foundation, enhanced with a new brick edifice and was opened as The Hotel Edwards in 1935. As Minnie’s health failed, the property was leased to a series of management companies and eventually closed in the 1960s. In 1982, Pat and Rip Benton took over ownership and undertook a major remodeling of the Hotel Edwards and the Central House, which they operated as a restaurant. Now, after a three-year, multi-million dollar renovation, the property has undergone its most dramatic metamorphosis, this time into a stylish yet serene country hotel and spa.
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Edwards Inn and Spa has welcomed guests to Highlands for more than a century. While preserving that rich history and elegantly ushering in the future, Old Edwards Inn and Spa exceeds every expectation.