Taking a break in North Carolina
By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist
I am on a “medically necessary” vacation this week, and this column will make you a little envious.
Do you love the “good ole days?” No television, phones, air conditioning, close neighbors or intrusive city sounds?
Only a five-hour drive from Alabaster is the Balsam Mountain Inn in Balsam, N.C.
Having traveled to this area many times, my husband and I were surprised that we had never heard of this historic inn. Opened in 1908 and situated on a hill straight up from the train depot, the three-story, all-wooden structure originally had more than 100 small rooms with common hall bathing facilities. Renovated in 1990, the rooms number only 52.
Radiators provide the heat, and Mother Nature provides the air conditioning. Three stories high, the first and second floors are laced with hundred-foot porches with rocking and napping room galore.
The owner, innkeeper and resident, Merrily Teasly, said she stumbled upon the inn in the 1980s. It was abandoned with years of neglect, and it took years to navigate the paperwork through county auction. Teasely retained ownership and her inn built quite a reputation.
In 2004, she took early retirement to care for her ailing mother. When her mother passed away, she traveled extensively. After a few years, friends began to call her with distressing news: Balsam Inn was once again on the auction block.
Teasly came to the rescue of her beloved home — yes, she lives on the second floor in private quarters. Teasly has been back as owner for only five months.
The award-winning restaurant welcomes not only guests, but locals and Parkway travelers seven days a week. A gallery of work by local artists, a 2,000-volume library, game board area, full bar and gift shop are on site.
Although the inn was quiet throughout our visit, quiet hours are enforced by 10 each night, hallway lights are dimmed and the second floor porch is closed. The Balsam Inn is a peaceful retreat.
So if you are in need of rocking chair solitude, a good book to read, a glass of wine from their extensive collection, a nap on the bed next to the open window or just watching guests arrive, this location could work for you. There are nearby walking trails for the more adventurous. Our food was unique, service is friendly and the quiet was healing.
Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.