Our North Carolina bed and breakfast, located at 177 Cumberland Avenue has a varied and interesting history.
The historic Asheville house was built by Richard Sharp Smith in 1901 for Maria Brown. The Carolina Bed & Breakfast is a fine example of Smith’s preference for pebble-dash, shingles, high-pitched roofs, and heavy stone foundations. Smith had taken over as Supervising Architect of the Biltmore Estate following the death of Richard Hunt in 1895, and he stayed on in Asheville continuing to design many of the homes here. Maria Brown never lived in the house; she married and moved away from Asheville. Instead, her brother, W. Vance Brown, moved in with his wife Daphne. Like the present owners, W. Vance Brown, was an American Expat, the child of a diplomat, who lived in New Zealand before returning to the United States as a young man. He and his wife had five children, all of whom were born in the house, before the early death of Daphne in 1916. Brown remarried and continued living in the house until his death in 1933. He was a solid citizen of Asheville, president of the Asheville Mica Company, a member of the school board, active in his church, and even served on the North Carolina Tax Association. Both his second wife and his daughter, Daphne, were officers of the local Junior League Chapter. In many ways, their lives mirror the history of Asheville prior to the 1930s.
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Asheville hard with many business and bank failures. The house at 177 Cumberland Avenue was sold to George Webb and his wife, and they turned it into a boarding house. Asheville legend has it that their young son, David, took a jewelry making course with the WPA and soon was ensconced in the cottage on the rear of the property where he made ashtrays and other small items, which he peddled around town. In other accounts, David was apprenticed to his uncle’s silver making factory at age fourteen. In any case, by the time he was seventeen, he had moved to New York City and embarked on an illustrious career as a jewelry designer to the President and movie stars. David Webb jewelry has been worn by the rich and famous ranging from Jackie Kennedy to Gwen Stefani. His trademark look includes jewel-encrusted animal figures such as leopards and frogs wrought in gold and platinum with inlayed diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. David died in 1975, and the house grew quiet.
In 1987, as Asheville began its resurgence to the vibrant town it has become, 177 Cumberland Avenue was bought by Karen and Sam Fain and became the Carolina Bed & Breakfast. Over time, the house has been lovingly restored. The original heart pine floors glow in the sunlight, the kitchen functions at the center of the house providing guests with wonderful home-baked foods, and the spacious bedrooms reflect the Arts and Crafts Movement inspired by nature, local materials, and the expression of skill.
Then, in 2008, James and Susan Murray returned to the United States after 27 years overseas. They chose beautiful, historic Asheville as their new home and bought the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in September of 2009.