Story by Frances Figart | Photos by Sarah Jones Decker
Frann Love first visited Asheville with her husband, David, in 2004 to attend a business event and they stayed at the Omni Grove Park Inn. “We had such a good experience, we decided to investigate the possibility of relocating here,” she recalls.
The Loves were still living in the oldest historic district in Dallas when they returned to Asheville in early 2005 to start their search for a new home. Naturally, they focused on older, well-established neighborhoods.
After looking at about a dozen properties, they saw a stately, Tudor home at 173 Macon Avenue in Grove Park that had formerly been an inn. “We loved the history,” says Love. “And when we realized all of our things would fit in well, we could see ourselves living here and knew it was the right ‘find.’”
Back in 1926, Pattie Hale moved to Asheville from Kentucky with her husband, also named David, to improve their health. They found a home for rent at 173 Macon Avenue that had been constructed from 1914–18. In order to be able to afford the cost of living there, Hale soon launched a plan to open the gracious property to guests and travelers for sit-down meals and lodging. She called it Sunnyside.
From actress Grace Kelly to four-star general George C. Marshall, Sunnyside hosted distinguished guests, celebrities and dignitaries for nearly half a century. The Hales were able to purchase the home in 1942 and continued to run it as an inn until 1974.
In its heyday, Sunnyside was a sought-after culinary destination with an emphasis on southern hospitality—and history. Many considered it Asheville’s finest small inn.
“A charming place to have lunch or dinner in Asheville is Sunnyside Inn on Macon Avenue near Grove Park Inn,” said a review in an Augusta, GA newspaper. “The dining rooms of the Inn, with their beautiful collection of antiques and fine linen, china and silver, are more like those of a stately private home than a restaurant.”
The Macon Telegraph called the inn’s food, “Southern Cooking at its best.” Sunnyside was named one of the top places to eat while traveling in the 1952 edition of Adventures in Good Eating: A Duncan Hines Book; Good Eating Places Along the Highways of America.
Still in mint condition today, Sunnyside presides on nearly an acre, two blocks from the Grove Park Inn. It is the perfect setting for relaxation and entertainment, with lush landscaped grounds, private terraces, a beautiful fountain and intimate gardens.
“What I love, most, about living in this house is the spaciousness and beauty, inside and out,” says Love, who is a master gardener. “The gardens, especially, have been a passion. In redesigning and updating the current garden areas, new plantings provide year-round interests.”
Visitors to the home can follow the walk through the front garden to the covered veranda, then step inside and observe the exquisite period detail. Inlaid hardwood floors, high ceilings, crown moldings and five beautiful fireplaces grace the main house.
Thanks to several renovations, the beauty and character of the historic home have been preserved and now combine with modern amenities to accommodate contemporary living. A large gourmet kitchen opens onto a walkout terrace, outdoor stone fireplace and grill area. Two rooms on the main level with a private entrance and bath serve as a home office. The carriage house above the garage offers an enticing artist’s retreat.
“Telling the story of ‘home’ is at the heart of what I do,” says Mike Davis, a Previews® specialist with Coldwell Banker King. “The story of Mrs. Hale, an enterprising woman whose entrepreneurial spirit enabled her to thrive during challenging economic times, exemplifies the spirit of hospitality that Asheville has become known for, albeit years before it was the ‘in’ thing to do.”
Davis is representing the Loves, who have the legacy property at 173 Macon Avenue listed for sale. Now one of the few remaining Grove Park estates, the historic home is truly not much different today than it was years ago, when it was the catalyst for Pattie Hale to become the original trendsetter of the Asheville hospitality movement.