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Discover Green Park Inn, which was built by the Green Park Company, a syndicate of three businessmen from Lenior, North Carolina.

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Green Park Inn, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012, dates back to 1891.


Sitting atop the Eastern Continental Divide, the Green Park Inn has been one of western North Carolina’s most revered getaways for more than a century. This historic hotel first debuted in 1891 within the community of Blowing Rock, which, at the time, was a remote village tucked away within the sprawling wilderness of Appalachia. Three businessmen from the City of Lenoir had created this magnificent building through their development firm, the Green Park Company. They were led by Major George Washington Finley Harper, a veteran of the American Civil War who had long known of the region’s tranquil beauty. Selecting a plot of land near a celebrated geographical landmark called “The Blowing Rock,” the business partners created a wonderful holiday retreat that displayed some of the best aspects of Queen Anne-style architecture. The construction team used some of the rarest wood in the country to create the structure, such as American Chestnut and Heart Pine. Amazingly, all of the wood remains intact today in all the original sections of the hotel. When it finally opened, the Green Park Inn was the most luxurious hotel in both Blowing Rock and the rest of the High Country. It featured many fantastic facilities, including a ballroom, a billiard room, a post office, a telegraph, and several bowling alleys. Each room contained a complete system of “waterworks,” and guests received beverages from a mountain spring located nearby at the headwaters of the Yadkin River.

In just a matter of months, the Green Park Inn quickly built a storied reputation for its world-class hospitality. Hundreds of people soon began to reserve guestrooms at the hotel, many of whom were inspired by its fantastic amenities and serene setting. Powerful statesmen and industrialists began to call the Green Park Inn their summer home, spending their evenings together smoking cigars and contemplating the reigning issues of the day. Over time, some of the most renowned people in American history visited at one point or another, including Anne Oakley, John D. Rockefeller, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Author Margaret Mitchell also wrote a portion of her famous novel, Gone with the Wind, while staying as a guest on-site. Two U.S. presidents even graced the Green Park Inn with their presence: Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. And by the middle of the 20th century, many Hollywood greats like Marilyn Monroe, Henry Fonda, and Jimmy Stewart were seen strolling across the grounds. Due to its mounting popularity, the hotel’s proprietors subsequently expanded the building, adding on new additions during the 1920s and the 1970s. (Much of the new construction work featured Colonial Revival-style architecture, as well as a few others.) Now a member of Historic Hotels of America, the Green Park Inn continues to rate among the best places to vacation in the South.

  • About the Location +

    The Green Park Inn sits in the shadow of a renowned local geological formation called “The Blowing Rock.” Legends abound about the location, harkening all the way back to when the Cherokee and the Catawa both roamed the landscape. Most of the stories involve two “star-crossed” lovers from each tribe, who sought refuge atop The Blowing Rock as their respective societies warred with one another. One day while they were visiting The Blowing Rock, the sky darkened into a deep crimson red, signaling that the young man would soon go to war. His maiden urged him to ignore the sign and stay with her. Wrought with intense indecision, the young man threw himself off of the edge of the gorge toward the rocks below. The maiden cried out to the “Great Spirit” to bring him back to her. The famous winds of John's River Gorge then blew her lover back into her arms, alive and well. (The rocks actually do allow for wind currents to lift light objects from the Johns River Gorge, such as snow or leaves.) The myth has since endured in the minds of locals and travelers alike for centuries, inspiring generations to marvel at the mystic of The Blowing Rock. Nevertheless, historical records do indicate that the Cherokee and the Catawa inhabited the hills of the area for hundreds of years until the arrival of Euro-American settlers in the mid-18th century. A Moravian bishop named August Gottlieb Spangenberg was the first person of European descent to visit the region, passing on word of its fertile fields and spacious woodlands to those living closer to the coast. Soon enough, throngs of colonists—particularly of Scotch-Irish descent—began clearing some of the land, establishing sprawling farms and quaint homesteads. But the region’s dense forests remained largely intact, attracting all kinds of hunters, trappers, and frontiersmen.

    A small village gradually emerged within the wilderness, which its residents took to calling “Blowing Rock” after the famous natural landmark. The Greenes were the first family to erect homes in the community, followed by the likes of the Hayes, the Coffeys, the Bolicks, the Estes, and the Stories. Nevertheless, Blowing Rock and its surrounding environs were sparsely populated throughout much of the 1800s, numbering just around a couple hundred people in total. The region lived in relative tranquility, save for some sporadic guerilla fighting that occurred during the American Civil War. Some even spoke of Watauga County—the home of Blowing Rock—as the “Lost Province” due to its remoteness. And although a few tourists arrived in the area via the Caldwell-Watuga Turnpike in the 1850s, it remained in almost near isolation until the end of the century. Many veterans of the Civil War found Blowing Rock’s serene atmosphere soothing to their weary psyche, and as such, word quickly spread of its calming environment. Waves of new foreigners subsequently descended upon the region, many of whom hailed from larger cities located toward the East Coast. Referred to as “summer visitors,” those individuals were typically wealthy and of high social standing. Noticing the affluence of the travelers, several opportunistic entrepreneurs began developing boutique hotels and resorts around Blowing Rock. Among the destinations constructed at the time was the Green Park Hotel, known today as the “Green Park Inn.” By the turn of the 20th century, Blowing Rock and the greater Watauga County had morphed into a world-renowned vacation retreat that thousands of people from all over sought to experience. (The implementation of a modern road network in the 1920s and 1930s certainly helped the transformation.) Today, the area maintains its status as one of North Carolina’s most exclusive holiday destinations.

    Blowing Green is close to a number of outstanding cultural attractions, too, including Westglow, the Green Park Historic District, and Grandfather Mountain State Park. Yet, perhaps the most celebrated—save for The Blowing Rock itself—is the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Extending for some 3,500 acres, the public park is anchored by a marvelous mansion known simply as the “Flat Top Estate.” The Top Flat Estate was once the home of Moses H. Cone, a textile conservationist from the Gilded Age who bore a thirst for philanthropy and conservation. Cone constructed the mansion in 1898, using the design aesthetics of the Parisian École des Beaux-Arts as the source of his inspiration. He specifically yearend to construct a mansion that would rival George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate in neighboring Asheville. Cone also spared no expense in developing his estate, spending a total of $25,000 to complete the project. Building the structure proved to be a difficult task, as all the materials had to be drawn by horse-and-buggy from the City of Lenoir nearly 20 miles away. Afterward, those same carriages had to trek the resources up the steep, 4,500 foot cliff that Cone had selected to serve as the building site. Nevertheless, Cone successfully developed his beloved mansion, giving it the name “Flat Top” after its close proximity to Flat Top Mountain. The building also featured some of the finest amenities of its age, such as gaslights, central heating, and a telephone switchboard. Cone and his wife, Bertha, lived at Flat Top Estate for the remainder of their lives, with Moses dying at the age of 51 in 1908. Bertha Cone continued to reside inside the estate for next three decades, before passing away herself shortly after World War II. Childless, she donated the Flat Top Estate to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, which, in turn, handed it over to the National Park Service. The Flat Top Estate is now listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and hosts over 250,000 public visitors every year.

  • About the Architecture +

    The Green Park Inn features a wonderful blend of Queen Anne-style architecture. Considered a successor to Eastlake architecture, Queen Anne became a widely popular architectural style at the height of the Gilded Age. Named in honor of the 18th-century British monarch, Queen Anne, the architectural form started in England before migrating to the United States. Yet, its name was misleading, for it actually borrowed its design principles from buildings constructed during the Renaissance. While the appearance of Queen Anne-style buildings may differ considerably, they are all united by several common features. For instance, they are typically asymmetrical in nature, and are built with some combination of stone, brick, and wood. Those buildings also featured a large wrap-around porch, as well as a couple polygonal towers. Those towers may also be accompanied by turrets along the corners of a building’s exterior façade. And like Shingle-style architecture, structures designed with Queen Anne-style design principles may also have pitched, gabled roofs that feature irregular shapes and patterns. Intricate wood carvings are a common sight throughout their layout and are often designed in such a way to resemble different objects. As such, guests viewing the architectural features of Queen Anne architecture many feel as if they had been staring at an illusion! Clapboard paneling and half-timbering are a few other forms of woodworking that are regularly found somewhere within a Queen Anne-style structure. Nonetheless, the innate aspects of the hotel’s brilliant Queen Anne architecture blends seamlessly with its Shingle-style aesthetics, giving it a rare, beautiful appearance.

    But other architectural styles appear throughout the Green Park Inn, the most notable of which is a style known as “Colonial Revival.” Colonial Revival architecture today is perhaps the most widely used building form in the entire United States. It reached its zenith at the height of the Gilded Age, where countless Americans turned to the aesthetic to celebrate what they feared was America’s disappearing past. The movement came about in the aftermath of the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, in which people from across the country traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the American Revolution. Many of the exhibitors chose to display cultural representations of 18th-century America, encouraging millions of people across the country to preserve the nation’s history. Architects were among those inspired, who looked to revitalize the design principles of colonial English and Dutch homes. This gradually gave way to a larger embrace of Georgian and Federal-style architecture, which focused exclusively on the country’s formative years. As such, structures built in the style of Colonial Revival architecture featured such components as pilasters, brickwork, and modest, double-hung windows. Symmetrical designs defined Colonial Revival-style façades, anchored by a central, pedimented front door and simplistic portico. Gable roofs typically topped the buildings, although hipped and gambrel forms were used, as well. This building form remained immensely popular for years until largely petering out in late-20th century. Nevertheless, architects today still rely upon Colonial Revival architecture, using the form to construct all kinds of residential buildings and commercial complexes.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Annie Oakley, historic sharpshooter and exhibition shooter popular in Gilded Age America.

    Henry Fonda, actor known for his roles in such films like The Grapes of Wrath, On Golden Pond, and Once Upon a Time in the West.

    Jimmy Stewart, actor known for his roles in such films like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Man Who Shot Liberty Vance, and It’s a Wonderful Life. 

    John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company.

    Margaret Mitchell, author of the novel, Gone with the Wind (a portion of which she wrote inside the inn).

    Marylin Monroe, actress known for her roles in Bus Stop and Some Like It Hot.

    Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady to former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933 – 1945)

    Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States (1923 – 1929)

    Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States (1929 – 1933)

  • Women in History +

    Eleanor Roosevelt: The Green Park Inn has hosted countless luminaries throughout its history, ranging from Hollywood celebrities to notable politicians. Among those illustrious individuals who stayed at the hotel was former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in 1884, the daughter of Elliott and Anna Hall Roosevelt. A member of the Oyster Bay clan of the Roosevelt dynasty, Elliott himself was the brother of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s immediate family cherished community service, although both her parents died at an early age. Her intellectually progressive outlook on life was further reinforced by Marie Souvestre, who was Roosevelt’s headmistress during her time in London’s prestigious Allenswood Boarding Academy. Nevertheless, she kept those personal influences close to her heart, and used them as the foundation for her future work as a social activist. Indeed, some of her earliest work involved tending to the overcrowded tenement houses in New York City’s Lower East Side.

    Around the same time, she began courting her distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They eventually married in 1905 and had six children together. Yet, the marriage was strained by the two’s dueling personalities, as well as the demands of her husband’s early political career. Roosevelt often felt her responsibilities as a “political wife” were tedious, especially after Franklin’s appointment as the Assistant Secretary of War shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Their marriage further deteriorated in 1918, when Eleanor discovered that Franklin had an affair with their mutual friend, Lucy Mercer. Roosevelt, thus, vowed to throw herself fully back into her political activism. But the two had a strong understanding that their fates remained intertwined and aspired to support one another going forward. It was Eleanor who encouraged Franklin to remain in politics when he was beset with polio in 1921. As such, Eleanor Roosevelt was incredibly instrumental in aiding her husband’s election as the Governor of New York in 1928, as well as his subsequent rise to the presidency four years later. She often gave numerous speeches in public on his behalf that galvanized thousands of people. Roosevelt also became a central figure at his campaign events, serving as her husband’s voice whenever he could not attend.

    But Eleanor Roosevelt still established her own vibrant political career as the First Lady of the United States. Historians today consider her actions to have fundamentally transformed the role that the First Lady traditionally held within the national government. Roosevelt used her position to advance a number of causes close to her heart, including gender equality, civil rights, and housing reform. For instance, she arranged a massive celebration at the nearby Lincoln Memorial to protest the racist decision of the Daughters of the American Revolution to not let Marian Anderson—an African American opera singer—perform at Constitution Hall. On another occasion, she privately lobbied for the passage of the Costigan-Wagner Bill, which would have made lynching a federal crime. Roosevelt also held exclusive press conferences at the White House for female journalists, in order to help enable women to break into the field. She even attempted to create an experimental community in West Virginia called “Arthurdale,” where homeless miners would have a shot at achieving a new, independent life. Although considered a failure, it was testimony to her commitment to enhance the lives of countless others.

    Eleanor Roosevelt’s historic career continued well after her time at the White House ended in 1945. She played a significant role in turning Hyde Park into a museum dedicated to her late husband’s legacy, which set a precedent for future presidential libraries to follow. She also served as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, becoming its chairperson in 1947. Roosevelt remained with the organization until 1953, and her political insight proved integral toward drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After working to reform New York politics throughout the remainder of the decade, Roosevelt eventually worked to support the campaign of John F. Kennedy. While she initially rebuffed Kennedy for his refusal to denounce McCarthyism, Roosevelt relented on the grounds that she believed he had the best chance of leading the nation into the future at the time. When Kennedy won in 1960, she became his representative to such organizations like the National Advisory Committee to the Peace Corps. Then, in 1961, Kennedy appointed her as the First Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. But Roosevelt would not see the commission come to fruition, as she died mere months after it was organized. Eleanor Roosevelt has since been revered as one of the most influential figures in 20th-century American history and is esteemed across the world today for her years of advocacy.