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Horton Hotel in Downtown Boone Holds Grand Opening Celebration Under a Beautiful Blue Sky

Denise did the honors of the cutting of the ribbon while staff members looked on.


The newly-opened Horton Hotel gathered its staff along with friends, family, and special guest Rep. Ray Russell for a ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration on Sunday.

The Horton Hotel has been open since February and has had a ton of support from the community and guests have experienced a great stay at the downtown Boone hotel.

Fulton and Denise Lovin purchased the 9,000-square-foot building and construction for the Horton Hotel started in May of 2017.

“When my husband suggested we create a hotel and a rooftop bar, I felt totally out of my element. However, I figured if I was going to create a social space, I would do exactly what I do in my therapy office to make people happy, generate empathy and love,” Denise said. “We wanted to create a place where people feel comfortable and could build connections with others. We wanted to create a space where our staff feels appreciated and our guests are warmly welcomed and cared for.”

Denise recently retired from a psychologist position at Appalachian State, but still maintains a small private practice in Boone. Fulton attended and graduated from Appalachian State and never left Boone. Both have had experience with property management with Pads for Grads, a business started by Fulton, and their White Fence Farm vacation property and event venue in Trade, Tennessee.

“This was a very complex project. Remodeling projects can be much more difficult than starting fresh, but we thought it was important to preserve the structure of this building along with the history that we uncovered,” said Fulton. “From a design standpoint, the challenge was always a fine line between mixing the historical features of the building with more modern conveniences and styles. That was really difficult to merge all of those into one.

Fulton said that they even discovered some old Studebaker car parts when they renovated the elevator shaft. The building served as many other businesses, including a former Studebaker car dealership.

Both Denise and Fulton have been very pleased with the response from guests and the community.

“You are what makes the Horton Hotel thrive. Our mission as a business is to help foster long-lasting relationships, to be a good neighbor, and offer extraordinary customer service in a unique environment,” Denise said. “We are so incredibly proud of our sweet downtown and we’re so happy to be nestled on King Street and grateful for your support and how warmly you have welcomed us for the past few months.”

Fulton wanted to extend a special thank you to the Town of Boone and the planning department for all of the help provided navigating the many rules and regulations that a business has to abide by before opening.

“It was all very exciting, stressful and at times overwhelming, but it’s so gratifying to us to hear the many compliments we’ve heard from our neighbors and the public in general,” Fulton added.

Some of the staff members also spoke briefly before a nice crowd on the rooftop bar.

“I’m really excited to have this opportunity. It feels really good to be a part of this and I’ve never enjoyed coming to work as much as I do now,” said Andrea Morton, the Director of Operations for the Horton Hotel. “I love being here, it’s exciting and invigorating. I don’t want to go home sometimes, I just want to stay and keep working. It’s a really fun place to be.”

The way Andrea discovered the Horton Hotel seemed like one of those “meant to be” moments. Her husband, Sandy, had been working on the Horton Hotel project, including some of the custom woodworking designs inside the hotel.

“I had been in Boone wondering what I was going to do. I’m from Savannah, my family had a 12-room inn and I was really familiar with this size property and I helped manage that inn for almost 10 years. I understood what it was like to do that,” she said. “I considered some inns in Blowing Rock that just weren’t my style, so I was waiting in Boone for the right opportunity and there it was on Facebook.”

Andrea said she sent in her resume and was hired for the job.

Hunter Hallmark is the Horton Hotel’s Director of Food and Beverage and is responsible for the delicious shared plates and drinks provided by servers and bartenders.

“I really want to say thank you to everybody. Thank you to our wonderful staff and everyone that was involved in putting this hotel together. Thank you so much to our community for supporting us, being here and coming here and enjoying this space with us,” Hunter said. “I’m so lucky to be a part of it as someone that grew up in the area. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to have a professional life here in small-town Boone where I grew up.”

Ellen Williamson is Hunter’s assistant with the food and beverage services. She too is really excited to be part of the hotel project.

“I couldn’t be more honored to be part of this amazing venture. Thank you to our staff who are constantly putting together rotating puzzle pieces to make everything seem as seamless as it does on a daily basis,” said Ellen. “One of the comments that I constantly get is that this is exactly what Boone needed, but it’s the other way around. Boone is exactly what we needed.”

Rep. Russell and Boone Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jackson were there to share a few remarks to celebrate the occasion as well. Rep. Russell delivered a special resolution from the North Carolina Legislature after his glowing remarks about the downtown boutique hotel.

“Fulton and Denise could have built a cookie cutter place in downtown Boone, but that’s not who Fulton and Denise are and that’s not what they wanted Boone to be. The Horton Hotel reflects this region’s passion for service, beauty, and commitment to the environment. No detail has been left unattended,” said Rep. Russell. “I enjoyed so much watching this come up on Facebook week after week. It’s not just a building, it’s not just a hotel, it’s truly a work of art produced by love. For decades to come, Boone will be saying thank you to Denise and Fulton for what they have done here and today is just our first opportunity to say thank you to them officially.”

Jackson said that the impact of the Horton Hotel will be felt both in Boone and regionally as well, saying that “having a boutique hotel right in the middle of downtown means big things for Watauga County.”

“I think when we all first heard of the Horton Hotel project, we dreamed of a day just like this when we can do just like we’re doing now – all of us come together and gather on the rooftop and get a true look at just how transformative not only this property but so many other projects right here have done for downtown Boone,” Jackson added. “We knew that this was an opportunity that Boone could get an infusion of new life, new culture and new opportunities for us all and now we’re seeing another one of those dreams realized and checked off the list.”

The Horton Hotel website offers a photo gallery of the rooftop bar as well as rooms and the indoor lounge. Parking for the hotel is located on Howard Street directly behind the building.

To find more information on the hotel or to reserve a room, visit their website at https://thehorton.com/.


Rep. Ray Russell’s Resolution

Whereas, downtown Boone, North Carolina has been a center of commerce, education, and government since the late 1800s, and

Whereas, the Daniel Boone Hotel closed in the late 1970s, and no hotel has existed in downtown Boone since that time, and

Whereas, the Boone Downtown Business Association has been advocating for new development in downtown Boone since 1987 by improving walkways, scheduling cultural events, encouraging transportation improvements, and assisting business owners, and

Whereas, the Appalachian Theatre is nearing completion and will bring high-profile performers and thousands of new visitors to downtown Boone, and

Whereas, a one-story Studebaker dealership existed at 611 West King Street prior to the 1920s, and the building was purchased by HW Horton in 1929 then torn down to make way for a five-story building housing Spainhour’s Department Store, which served the area for many years, and

Whereas, the building also housed Burgess Furniture & Antiques, Joines Furniture Company, and Green Furniture Company, and

Whereas, the Horton Building eventually became vacant and remained that way for many years, and

Whereas, Fulton Lovin came to Appalachian State University in 1977, never left, and began working in real estate, and Dr. Denise Lovin moved to Boone in 1996, working as a psychologist at App State, and

Whereas, together these two dreamed of creating a unique experience for visitors to the High Country and contributing to downtown Boone economic development, and 

Whereas, Fulton and Denise Lovin bought the almost forgotten Horton Building in 2017, and with painstaking detail, a passion for outstanding design and craftsmanship, and love for their community, they turned it into a true work of art as a boutique hotel, and

Whereas, the Horton Hotel & Rooftop Lounge opened its doors in February 2019, and now

Therefore, the NC General Assembly honors Fulton and Denise Lovin for their cultural, historical, aesthetic, and commercial contribution to the community they love so dearly.


People gather on the rooftop for the ribbon cutting celebration.
Ray Russell delivers his resolution honoring the Horton Hotel.
Fulton and Denise Lovin along with their daughter share some remarks with the crowd.
The crowd cheers as the resolution is presented to Fulton and Denise.
Fulton shares his comments on the construction project and support from the community.
Ellen Williamson, assistant food and beverage director spoke briefly. Hunter Hallmark (right) is the food and beverage director. 
Rep. Ray Russell congratulates Fulton and Denise. 
Andrea Morton is the director of operations. 
There was a big applause from the crowd as Denise cut the ribbon. 
Horton Hotel staff members.
Left to right: Denise Lovin, Rep. Ray Russell and Fulton Lovin.
The rooftop bar area is a one-of-a-kind in downtown Boone. 
The downstairs lobby lounge is a great place to kick back and enjoy a beverage.
The unique lobby design at the Horton Hotel.