The Quintessential Mountain Lodge
In 1923, timber baron Amos Frye built a hotel on a hill above Bryson City — a rambling, rustic, 2-story mountain lodge with massive stone fireplaces in both the lobby and dining hall. It offered 62 guest rooms, built to accommodate America’s new love affair with the family car and a growing interest in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. The early ‘20s was the genesis of family tourism.
Owning timber rights to most of what would later become the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Frye harvested his own chestnut, oak, maple and locust to build the lodge. The interiors were paneled with American Chestnut, a revered species that was being decimated by the American Chestnut blight. Adding to the rustic charm, much of the exterior was covered with poplar bark shingles. Because there are no more mature chestnut trees, the Fryemont Inn could not be recreated today at any cost.
Amos Frye had even bigger plans, including a movie theater, golf course and the first swimming pool west of Asheville! The 275-seat Fryemont Inn Theater operated from 1934 to 1950 in the building now occupied by McClanahan’s Collectables. The golf course became the Swain County Recreation Park. The pool at the Inn remains a summertime favorite of guests.
Frye built the Fryemont Inn next to the 12-gabled white frame home he and his wife Lillian had built in 1895. Both the home – now known as the Frye-Randolph house – and the Fryemont Inn are on the National Register of Historic Places.
(Above) Photo of the just-completed Fryemont Inn in 1923. (Below) The Fryemont, 100 years later.
On April 21, the Fryemont Inn will open for its 100th anniversary season (April thru November}.
The Fryemont Inn, then…
After the last of Frye’s family died in the 1950s, the Fryemont sat empty for several years. It was later purchased by the Dillard family, whose renovations resulted in fewer rooms, all with private baths. In 1982, the Fryemont was purchased by George and Sue Brown from Atlanta.
While carefully preserving Amos Frye’s rustic mountain treasure, the Browns expanded the Fryemont into the grounds with eight private suites and a family-size cabin, just steps from the Lodge. All include such contemporary amenities as central heat and air-conditioning, a spacious living room with fireplace, HD satellite TV, and either a kitchen or a wet bar.
The Fryemont’s dining room and fireside bar are favorites of tourists and locals alike. For lodging guests, both dinner and breakfast are included in the price of their stay. Breakfast options include omelets, French toast, pancakes, biscuits and an “Express” for folks on the go. A menu of nine evening entrees includes such favorites as braised lamb shanks, prime rib and fresh rainbow trout, prepared five different ways.
Today, the Inn is operated by three generations of the Brown family. Sue and George are semi-retired, although Sue continues to cook breakfast most mornings. George Jr. with the help of his son, Tyler, is the Executive Chef and George’s wife Monica is the Hotel Manager. Their daughter Kathryn, a recent UNC Chapel Hill graduate, enjoys hosting at special events.
Learn more about the Fryemont’s lodging, dining and history at FryemontInn.com.
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