Unlike many of the old inns of its time in places like Linville and Cashiers, The Orchard Inn was not originally open to the public. Built by the Brotherhood of Clerks for Southern Railway in 1926, the simple farmhouse-style lodging was created as a summer getaway for railroad employees and their families. Located at an altitude of 2500 feet and part of the thermo-clime, the temperatures were considerably cooler than South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, where most of the clerks resided.
Deep porches on all four sides of the Inn, originally called the Mountain Home, allowed guests to circumnavigate the building as they sought the coolest spots throughout the summer days. Sitting in rocking chairs or playing cards or checkers was the primary pastime. The second floor was originally designed with 10 guestrooms having separate men and ladies communal bathrooms on opposite ends of the hallway designated for clerks with families. Unmarried clerks were given more primitive quarters in one of the three bachelors’ bunk rooms on the first floor. Three meals a day were originally served downstairs in the basement dining room. All the guests shared the spacious first-floor lobby, which served as the living room. The area – with its wood floors, timber posts, numerous windows and doors opening to porches on all sides – was, and remains, a breezy retreat.
Many local citizens found jobs working at the Mountain Home or providing services for its visitors. Mr. Bill Pace, a native of Saluda, and his family supplied wood and coal as well as transporting guests with their baggage from the train depot in town to the Inn for 25 cents per person.
The Mountain Home was sold in 1963 and fell into a state of disrepair and neglect. From 1974-75 it was owned by Ms. Ella Sue Smith of Beaufort, SC who called it the White Stag Inn. It was then purchased by the Watson family from Florida, called the Wayside Inn, and operated as a dinner-only restaurant until 1978. Peter Vassil then purchased the property, calling it the Railroad House, and operating it as a restaurant for three years. In 1981 the Inn was closed and all the furniture and fixtures were sold at public auction. In that same year, Ken and Ann Hough from Charlestown purchased the property and completely renovated the main building, and eventually the cottages, creating the wonderful bed and breakfast it is today. They ran the Inn for 12 years, then leased it to Newell & Ronnie Doty from 1995-97. Bob & Kathy Thompson purchased the Inn in 1997 and ran it very successfully for 13 years. Now the Orchard Inn is in the stewardship of Marc & Marianne Blazar who searched for 3 years to find the perfect B&B. They knew the moment they walked up the front steps of this wonderful historic building that their quest was over, and they had found the place of their dreams.
The Orchard Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places as the Railway Clerks’ Mountain Home.