A Historic Downtown Hendersonville Hotel & Circa 1919 Landmark

Mrs. Bell
Mr. Bell

The inn was built in 1919-1921 as a hotel by Mr. & Mrs. Bell, to serve visitors coming to Hendersonville and Flat Rock. In February 1989, the property gained official certification as a National Historic building. An extensive renovation was completed in 2006 with every effort made to preserve the charm of the historic building, however, the footprint was not changed.

The property has been a lodging facility since its inception.Over the years, this historic inn has taken many names. Once it was the former Aloah Hotel. Then called the Carson House & Hendersonville Inn during the 1930s and 1940’s. For a number of years after that, it was the Inn on Church. Today, this historic inn is The Henderson, a large, three-story, classic revival hotel on a corner lot at 201 Third Avenue West in the heart of downtown Hendersonville.

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 About the Building

Source:  National Register of Historic Places, Registration Form | December 28, 1988

Vintage Hendersonville, NC, postcard depicting the inn

The porch is a wrap-around and is original to the building. The rectangular building, with shallow T projections on the east and west sides, has a flat roof, overhanging boxed and molded eaves, and an ample one-story frame porch extending around three sides of the building. Porch entrances face Third Street and Church Street. The northernmost bay of the east side porch is enclosed as a sunroom. Six-over-six pane windows occurring singly or in pairs or triplets, generously illuminate the building. The main entrance, facing Third Avenue, is a single beveled glass door with four pane beveled sidelights. The building rests on a low stone foundation, and a low rough quarried stone retaining wall outlines the narrow grassy lawn on the two street sides. The hipped roof porch is supported by paired square posts, occurring in triplets at the corners, with a plain wooden balustrade.

The hotel is remarkably unaltered on the exterior. The only obvious change was the metal awnings which shelter the south side of the porch, probably replacements for earlier canvas awnings. They have since been removed and the canvas awnings are added back.

On the interior, the hotel is equally well-preserved. Like the exterior, the interior treatment has a slight Craftsman flavor to the dark stained woodwork and the fireplace in the lobby, a simple arched brick design with a heavy dark stained bracketed shelf. The lobby occupies the south half of the first floor, and this large space is supported at intervals by wooden paneled and plastered posts and exposed ceiling joists. The closed-string stair rises in two flights with a landing along the south front wall to the second floor. It has a handsome dark stained railing, with heavy square newels and simple balustrade similar to the front porch railing. A dark stained paneled registration desk, apparently original, is nestled beneath the staircase facing the entrance. French doors open from the lobby into the dining room and kitchen area, which occupy the rear half of the first floor. The dining room space has paneled wooden posts and exposed boxed ceiling joists.

Children playing on the lawn of the inn

The entire interior retains its original doors, with five horizontal panels, dark stained woodwork, and wooden floors and plaster walls. Each of the guest rooms boasts a louvered door in addition to the solid paneled door, which was used as early air conditioning.

The Henderson is the only purpose-built hotel in Hendersonville still operated as a hotel. Known later as the Carson House and since the early 1930s as the Hendersonville Inn, the Aloah then the Inn on Church, it is one of the last of the town’s hotels, and its plain sturdy brick design and ample wraparound porch reflect comfort and continuity. It is representative of the Inns, Boarding Houses, and Hotels property type.

Originally, this section of Hendersonville was filled with other hotels catering to the tourism boom: most notably the Hodgewell Hotel, which was at the corner of 4th Avenue West and Church Street, a block north of the Henderson; and the Kentucky Home at the northeast corner of Washington and 4th Streets, a block northeast of the Henderson. Both of these structures have been demolished. Aside from its historical associations, the Henderson is also notable for its continuous use as a hotel.

The 90′ x 150′ rectangular lot on which the Henderson sits was originally owned by Dr. Columbus Few, who sold the property for $1,500.00 to his son C. Few, Jr. in 1914 (Henderson County Deed Book 84, p. 257). The deed mentions the lot only with no mention of improvements. Few, Jr. sold the property to J. O. Bell in 1910 for $10,000.00 with a banknote of $1,800.00, indicating the balance due. It appears that J. O. Bell was the builder of the Aloah Hotel. It was lost during the Depression because it was sold on the Courthouse steps at auction in 1932 for 25 dollars. It later became Carson House.

The Johnson family

At this time, Mr. W. H. Britt bought it from the Green River Manufacturing Company (Henderson County Deed Book 203, p. 134). Once again, it experienced a change of identity, becoming the Hendersonville Inn. In 1943, the hotel was sold to Ira E. Johnson (Henderson County Deed Book 249, p. 305). Finally, in 1985, I. E. Johnson deeded the property to his son, E. Leland Johnson. It is the only existing hotel of the era in Hendersonville. The Inn was lovingly renovated in 2000. The current property manager, Freddie, was instrumental in all of the renovations and you will probably see him around the inn still working on keeping the vintage charm alive. The current owners and innkeepers are Joe and Stephanie Carlton, which purchased the inn in October of 2011. They have made the inn a charming boutique hotel with well-appointed rooms, and a vintage charm that is unmatched in the area. They display many collections and lovingly keep the gardens and the inn in perfect condition leading up to the 100 year birthday of the inn. 

Guest at the inn, circa 1949

According to a brochure published at the reopening in 1929, the inn (then Hendersonville Inn) a room with a private bath was $3 for a single person and $4.50 for two. A room with a connecting bath would run $2.50 and $$4.00. Rooms without a bath were $2 and $3.50.

It had been refurbished and refinished inside and out. At that time the “automatic sprinklers” were installed inside and out, which makes the building practically fireproof. All rooms had hot and cold running water. Breakfasts were at popular prices, lunch was 75 cents, and dinner was $1. Lois Foster was the manager. Concrete roads in every direction made motoring a delight.

Historic Landmark of Downtown Hendersonville, NC

A tourist boom from the late 19th century through the 1920’s fueled development of numerous boarding houses and fashionable hotels in Hendersonville. The Henderson…circa 1919, is the only remaining from the era still in operation as a hotel. Listed on the National Historic Register, its architecture reflects the Classical Revival Style reminiscent of the roaring 20’s. Located at the corner of 3rd and Church, a block from Main Street, the boutique hotel has a quiet and elegant vintage charm.

Historic Downtown Hendersonville and Our Inn Today.

Tourists visiting Hendersonville, NC

Downtown Hendersonville and the village of Flat Rock have been destination retreats for well over 100 years. That tradition continues today and our region has become the ideal destination for those desiring the cooler and less humid climate of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area has become a four seasons destination with a lively downtown and year-round festivals and events.

The Henderson is Hendersonville NC’s only downtown hotel, located just one block off historic Main Street. With 17 tastefully decorated rooms and an excellent space for any event, The Henderson is a comfortable retreat for out-of-town guests and a choice venue for locals and guests alike to host all special group events.