Listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the TOP 50 Ritzy Weekend Retreats
by Shivani Vora

Once-homey N.C. inn becomes luxury spa resort By PAULA CROUCH THRASHERThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution

HIGHLANDS, N.C. — At first glance, the three-story red brick and rock Old Edwards Inn on the corner of Main and Fourth streets appears much the same as it did when it opened in 1935 as the Hotel Edwards.
But look closer: The landmark inn in this popular Western North Carolina mountain resort town has emerged from an extreme makeover.

• Getting there:

Highlands, N.C., is about a 130-mile drive from Atlanta. Take I-85 north to I-985, then continue as the highway changes to Ga. 365 and U.S. 441. After driving through Dillard, turn right on Ga. 246, which becomes N.C. 106 after it crosses the state line. Turn right at the light on U.S. 64/N.C. 28 and proceed to Fourth Street. The Old Edwards Inn and Spa will be on the right at 445 Main St.
• A LODGING LANDMARK – A brief history of the Central House and Old Edwards Inn:

1878: Central House, Highlands’ earliest boardinghouse, was built on property purchased by John Norton.

1888: David Norton purchased the property, and for the next 17 years, Norton and his wife, Martha “Mattie” Adams, better known as Uncle Dave and Aunt Mat, managed Central House.

1893: Norton established the post office in the granite store on the property, also known as the Stone Store House and, later, the Rock Store.

1905: Norton sold both the Central House and the Stone Store House to “Uncle Billy” Potts, whose wife, Martha “Mattie” Ammons, took in boarders.

1913: Uncle Billy sold Central House to the town’s police chief, J. Grover “Diamond Joe” Edwards and his wife, Minnie Zoellner Edwards.

1925: Minnie hired Will Cleaveland to build a two-story addition to Central House and raise two dormers in the roof of the main building.

1934: Minnie hired Wilton Cobb, a local builder and owner of the hardware store across the street, to build a three-story hotel on the site of the old Rock Store. Keeping the store as its foundation and lobby, architect Linton Young designed the brick and stone structure.

1935: The Hotel Edwards opened. Minnie ran the Edwards as well as the Central House.

1950: With Minnie’s health and eyesight failing, the inn was leased to a string of management teams but closed in the mid-’60s.

1982: Rip and Pat Benton of St. Simons Island bought and remodeled Central House and the former hotel. Central House was operated as a restaurant.

2001: Art and Angela Williams of Atlanta acquired the inn and restaurant.

2004: The Old Edwards Inn and Spa open as a part of the Old Edwards Hospitality Group LLC.

— Sources: Old Edwards Hospitality Group and “Heart of the Blue Ridge: Highlands, North Carolina” by Randolph P. Shaffner