By Randy Johnson
At a recent annual meeting of the Historic Hotels of America in Indiana, Blowing Rock’s Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock has been honored with the organization’s 2015 Best Small Hotel Award for properties with under 80 rooms.
Green Park Inn General Manager Lorry Mulhern received the award from Larry Horowitz, Executive Director of HHA, who said the Green Park “represents the pinnacle in historic hotel achievements.”
The Green Park was also officially recognized for its upcoming 125th Anniversary celebration, scheduled for June, 2016. It also received a Best Practices in Creative Historic Marketing and Promotions Award for its efforts to attract the cultural and historic traveler.
Lorry Mulhern accepted the award and praised all those who helped earn it:—”the owners, staff and local contractors who contributed to saving our architectural treasure from destruction in 2009, and restored it to its former and deserving glory.”
The HHA was founded in 1989 with 32 charter members, and is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation® for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels. Today, it has 275 historic hotels nationwide (visit historichotels.org).
The Green Park Inn stands out for being one of the last operating 19th Century grand manor hotels nationwide, and the last in Western North Carolina. According to HHA, “These hotels’ Victorian or Queen Anne architecture copied the style of the country manor houses of the wealthy, and offered a refuge from the rigors of contemporary urban life. The hotel, built in 1891 and constructed at that time entirely of American Chestnut ~ now nearly extinct ~ offered the luxury of running water and electric power in all its rooms. The hotel has 80 rooms, 60 of which have been restored and reopened to date.
The award caps a nationwide effort by HHA to generate visibility for the growing chain of historically significant places to stay. The hotel group has made major contributions to what’s seen as a recent and growing trend for travelers to seek out and enjoy lodging that represents a by-gone era. The Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis is another Historic Hotels of America member property. Others in North Carolina include the Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, the Omni Grove Park and the Haywood Park in Asheville, and the Pinehurst Resort.
The chain increasingly seeks out historic properties in urban areas too, including places like Charlotte where historic preservation has never been a major forte of the city’s offerings. The surprise is that Charlotte’s 1929 Dunhill Hotel is also one of the state’s Historic Hotels of America. The Dunhill is evidence that, as the city focuses its efforts on creating a more traveler friendly downtown, even a rare historic property can add a lot to the mix of amenities for visitors.
That’s even more obvious for the Green Park Inn, one of the last remnants of Blowing Rock’s very earliest lodging opportunities that is left from the days when tourism was being born in the High Country in the late 19th century. We’ve lost many such landmarks, among them the Daniel Boone Hotel, in Boone, and the Mayview Manor Hotel, also in Blowing Rock.
For more information visit greenparkinn.com.