The Calhoun House is a historic landmark of Bryson City, North Carolina. It was built as a hotel in 1920 by William and Nora Lee Calhoun. A state of the art structure for its time, the Calhoun House was advertised as:
"A New Concrete Building, Fire Proof with Electric Lights and Free Baths"
It featured 10 foot ceilings, design plastered walls, Heart Pine hardwood flooring, 5 wood burning fireplaces, transom windows down the main hallway and over 3000 square feet of covered porches. As stories tell, the Calhouns would bring their guests from the train depot, 2 blocks away, in horse drawn carriages.
William Calhoun was a descendant of former Vice President John C. Calhoun. After William's death in 1929, Nora Lee continued to be a socialite of the town, having grand parties in the house's spacious yards. Sometime in the 1930s, Nora Lee converted the Calhoun House into apartments for the men working on the building of the Fontana Dam.
William and Nora Lee had 2 daughters, Verayle Calhoun Franks and Inez Calhoun. Always active members of the community, Mrs. Franks was a member of the committee to form the area hospital and became the hospital's first administrator.
The House stayed in the Calhoun family until around 1995. In 2006, Edward and Shirley Ciociola
purchased the Calhoun House and began an 18
month adventure to restore the House back to its original grandeur.
The result is a magnificent restoration where guests feel like they have taken a step back in time while still enjoying all the modern amenities of brand new plumbing and electric with modern appliances, Jacuzzi brand whirlpool tubs, Corian countertops and central air & heat in every suite.
The finished home is a sight to behold. A stay at the Calhoun House Inn & Suites will bring comfort, interest and enjoyment to every guest who wants to feel the true excitement of visiting in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is cozy. comfortable and convenient.
Many of the unique characteristics of the original hotel can still be seen throughout the Calhoun House today.
The location of the original stairway that lead downstairs in the 1920s can be seen in the kitchen of the Toy Box Suite. It shows an area of different flooring that was used to close up the opening in the 1930s. It had been covered by 5 layers of linoleum and a 1939 newspaper at the bottom.
All the original Heart Pine flooring, present throughout all the suites, has been sanded and refinished.
The flooring patterns provide some evidence of the original hotel design and layout. The hotel's original main hallway can be seen in the closets of the Orient Point Suite, Toy Box Suite and Movie Gallery Suite and the bathrooms of the Orient Point Suite and Toy Box Suite. The original doorway at the end of the hotel hallway (long covered by paneling) has been restored with an original door frame (including the transom window) in the living room of the Movie Gallery Suite where it now houses shelves of vintage cameras, projectors and pictures of actors and actresses from the "Golden Era" of Hollywood movies.
The original transom windows (long covered by paneling) have been restored and can be seen in some of the closet and bathroom doorways. They provide a unique, indirect light source for the rooms and an ambiance of days gone by, as well as further evidence of where the original hotel hallway was located in the Calhoun House of the 1920s. Some still contain the original 1920 glass.
The original plaster design walls and ceiling can be seen in the Prairie Edge Suite living room and the Orient Point Suite bedroom. These 2 rooms, along with two of the closets, were actually a large sitting room in the original hotel where guests could gather in front of a large wood burning fireplace. These 2 rooms are now separated by a beautiful poplar wall and an adjoining door for guests who want to occupy 2 suites during their stay at the Calhoun House Inn & Suites.