BURNSVILLE, N.C. – It’s Sunday morning, and the food just keeps on coming at the Terrell House Inn: pancakes with blueberries plus bacon and coffee. It’s all hot and fresh, just like the fruit served to guests of this historic home, lying less than a mile from the heart of the town square of Burnsville, N.C.
Mike and Laura Hoskins make it a point to make guests feel welcome at their home. But, it’s not like it used to be. And, well, perhaps any guest should be glad of that.That is, the rooms named “Ann” and “Patricia” once were not bedrooms at all, but screened-in porches.
And, wait – we’re not even onto the subject of the bathroom. – ‘A real challenge’
You see, this is more than just another bed-and-breakfast. The Terrell House was once a dormitory for the Stanley McCormick School in the early 1900s, a place where young ladies came to live in this small mountain town.
“There were probably 12 or 13 girls – and one bathroom,” Mike Hoskins said, grinning. “It must have been a real challenge.”
In 1927, the Stanley McCormick School became the Carolina New College but soon closed in 1931 during the Great Depression. After that, what school bulletins had called a “Cottage for Young Women” became a private home. Then, finally, the 4,500-square-foot structure was converted into a bed-and-breakfast, thanks to renovations conducted in the 1990s by former owners John and Pat Terrell.
Today, overnight guests can choose from one of six spacious rooms – all with separate baths – in the renovated home along Burnsville’s Robertston Street, where the Terrell House faces the Stanley McCormick School’s former dining hall, a brick building now used as a Mason Lodge.
Burnsville sits just over the mountains from the Tennessee Tri-Cities, lying along U.S. Highway 19, the same road that cuts through Abingdon, Bristol and Lebanon in Southwest Virginia. It’s about halfway between Boone and Asheville – in Yancey County, with a center square featuring a statue of the man for whom the town was named, Otway Burns (1775-1850), a sailor, soldier and statesman.
Nearby, the Penland School of Crafts draws both visitors and artists to the region, ranging from potters and painters to quilters, crafters and glass-blowers.
What’s also to see: The Western North Carolina Quilt Trails feature nine separate trails that showcase more than 200 huge, wooden quilt blocks hung prominently on barns, buildings and farmhouses throughout the countryside of Yancey County and neighboring Mitchell County.
You’ll find one quilt block above the front door of the Terrell House. And Mike Hoskins points to that large square with particular pride.
“It’s the arts,” Mike Hoskins said. “Yancey and Mitchell counties are USA-renowned for arts and crafts.”
‘It’s a small town’
Year-round, you can taste such fare as salads, sandwiches, soups – and specials like crab cakes or “Bour-bon Sirloin” – at the Garden Deli, open since 1987 on Burnsville’s town square, a popular gathering point for the town’s 1,700 residents.
On the first Friday and Saturday of August, look on the square for the Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair, an event dating to 1956. This event draws as many as 30,000 visitors a year.
Often, still, Burnsville simply serves as a center for something that may not sound unique but is, really, quite special: “peace and quiet,” Laura Hoskins said.
“It’s a small town. It doesn’t change much,” added Mike Hoskins, a businessman who has traveled around the world and bought this bed-and-breakfast in 2006.
“We’re busy from the first of May to the end of October,” Mike Hoskins said. “The uniqueness is the fact that we like people. And, again, the history here is very attractive to people.”
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