History of the 1899 Wright Inn ~ Asheville NC
The O.B. Wright House listed on the National Register of Historic Places was designed by George Franklin Barber (1854-1915), an American architect best known for his residential designs which he marketed worldwide through a series of mail-order catalogs. His homes were characterized by irregularity of shape, plan, texture and color. His plans produced unpretentious yet gracious formal residences.
He was very amiable to changing his basic plans to meet specific needs or wishes of his clients. The Wright House shows slight modification from Barber’s original plan. The price-list of working plans for this house was $60.00. Cost to build was listed at $4,000-4,500.
Barber, born in Illinois, learned architectural design through mail-order books. He began designing around the mid -1880s and continued through 1908, when the catalog business was suspended, but during which time he sold upwards of 20,000 plans.
There are many Barber homes throughout the country which still stand and reflect the grace and elegance of a by-gone era. We have seen the sister to this house in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
During your stay, ask to see some of these interesting catalogs while you sit in George Barber’s splendor.
Osella and Leva Wright built this handsome Queen Anne house in 1899. The home was designed by a prominent architect of the era: George Barber. The exterior and interior of the house looks almost as it did originally. There is a window in what was originally one of the formal parlors that was a gift of the Vanderbilt family. It was actually a porthole from one of their ships, and was given to the Wright’s to be used in the construction of the house.
The carriage house sheltered a fine carriage on the main floor with groomsman’s quarters above and a stable below.
The Wrights lived in style for several years before their fortunes declined. When the money was gone, as well as the carriages and horses, Mr. Wright disappeared and from around 1914, Mrs. Wright called herself a widow. (So Ladies, Mr. Wright really wasn’t Mr. Right!!) However, when Mr. Wright was dying, he returned home secretly. He died in 1931 at the age of 77 and Mrs. Wright, now a real widow, buried him in Riverside Cemetery on the day he died. There was no notice in the newspapers to give away her secret. Mrs. Wright was now really a widow and kept “genteel” boarders as long as she was able. She died in 1948 at the age of 91.
The Wright’s never had children, so there were no children raised in this big, beautiful house until it became a boarding house. Recently two brothers came to stay with us. As children, they lived here with their mother over fifty years ago. It was interesting to hear their personal memories of what it was like to live in this house and in Asheville so many years ago.
Walking through the rooms, I often think how lonely Mrs. Wright must have been alone in the house, with only occasional boarders. Then the doorbell rings announcing guests at the door and I somehow feel that Mrs. Wright would be pleased to know that her house is now filled with guests coming to enjoy Asheville and her old home.
The house was purchased from her estate by James and Loretta Banks. James was a semi-invalid so Loretta also kept boarders. They turned the carriage house into an apartment.
The house was sold again in 1970 to Mary Williams. Using just a few rooms, she lived here with her dog, until her death in 1986. Beginning shortly before her period of ownership, the house, along with the surrounding neighborhood, fell into a serious level of disrepair. To the locals, the house became known as “Faded Glory.” In 1977, Montford was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ed and Betty Siler bought the house in 1987. They spent more than a year and a half restoring it to the beautiful condition you see today. They were very careful to maintain a very high attention to detail.
We bought the Inn in 2004 and are the fifth innkeepers to keep vigil over this beautiful “National Register of Historic Places” property and hope that Mrs. Wright feels that we are being good keepers of her beautiful home.
The Wright Inn and Carriage House continues to provide hospitality to travelers visiting Asheville looking for a beautiful, quiet, and historic Bed & Breakfast.
The O. B. Wright House, now the 1899 Wright Inn and Carriage House, is located at 235 Pearson Dr. within the Montfort Area Historic District.