By Gina Malone
Anna Kitzis fell in love with the idea of owning a bed-and-breakfast years before she fell in love with the place— a historic house in Waynesville—where she would make it happen. She was living in Boston at the time, having moved there with her family in 1971 from their native Poland.
It was on a trip to Maine with a friend where Kitzis first entertained the idea. When she was no longer caring for her parents, she decided, if she had not married herself, it might be a good thing to do—buy a B&B, run it and, perhaps, have enough time to pursue her art, metalsmithing.
Years passed. Then her father decided to sell the family home in Boston and she began thinking again of what it would be like to make her dream happen. The idea of combining home and business was appealing to her. “I’m very happy being a hermit,” she says.
She signed up for a three-day intensive training program in Maine, learning about purchasing a good location and what to expect in operating a B&B. “New England had a lot to offer because it is a destination,” she says. “But I was so sick and tired of humid summers and winters that had piles and piles and piles of snow.”
Around this time, a place she had never heard of began to suggest itself to her. “I read books and the name Asheville came up,” she says. “I watched movies and the name Asheville came up.” When she and a friend attended a craft fair in Boston, her friend kept nudging her. “She would say ‘Look! There’s someone from Asheville,’” Kitzis says. It happened several times. “So I finally stopped at the booth of someone from Asheville and I chatted with the woman,” she says. “She told me about the big art community and everything.”
Kitzis visited the following spring and fell in love with Asheville, although, she says, her father did not like the idea of moving to the area. When he died in 2017, she began making arrangements to move herself to Asheville, which she did in September, 2018. The search for a potential B&B was long and she was ready to give up when her broker told her about a B&B in Waynesville, whose owners needed to sell. “Honestly, I had never heard of Waynesville, had no idea what to expect,” Kitzis says. “I came here with a super negative attitude.” She had informed her friends that this place, Oak Hill on Love Lane, was the last place she would look before giving up on her long-held dream. But, “I came and I fell in love,” she says. Seeing downtown Waynesville for the first time reminded her of a 1950s American movie, she says. “It was so perfect.” Even after living so many years in Boston, small town life is fine with her. “It has what I need. It has art galleries. It has a theater, antique stores.”
Oak Hill on Love Lane is on the National Historic Register, having been built by Clyde Ray, Sr., a merchant and two-term mayor, between 1898 and 1900. Although her father died before her dream became real, Kitzis says she is a superstitious person and noted that her offer on the inn was accepted on her father’s birthday. The loan papers, although delayed, were initially set for signing on her birthday. “In Boston, for years, the house I lived in was 24,” she says, “and this house is 224. I think the house accepts me. It feels right.”
She opened for business in March, and has received visitors from all over the country and places beyond such as the Netherlands, Russia and England.
She enjoys the history of the place that remained in the Ray family until 1979. The inn’s seven guest rooms, three of them suites, are named for family members of the original Ray family. Since it had been a B&B for years, there was little work to do besides adding a bathroom to the one room that didn’t have one. She also had a bed made for that room by a River Arts District woodworker. Made from ash and walnut, the headboard’s design features a mountain range like the ones visible from nearly every room in the house.
The guest rooms all feature Keurig machines, refrigerators and televisions, and, of course, wi-fi is available on the premises. A fire pit behind the house offers a lovely view night or day of Waynesville and the mountains.
Meals, besides the provided breakfast, are also available upon request. Kitzis serves organic foods as much as possible and sources ingredients from local farms when she can. “I don’t cook traditional American breakfasts,” Kitzis says. “I’m not from the South, but certain things I can do really well—like grits.” She doesn’t consider them particularly southern since polenta and, in Ukraine and Romania, mamaliga are much the same, she says. “As I keep telling my guests here, I’ve been cooking grits since I was about 15 years old.” Special requests such as gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian are fine with her. “I love accommodating different diets,” she says. In nice weather, she sets up tables on the back verandah and urges guests to eat outside where they can also feast on the panoramic view of Waynesville and the impressive spread of mountains beyond.
“The view is spectacular from here,” she says. “In the morning, spring and summer, when you can see the clouds, you get the real experience of the Smoky Mountains. It’s gorgeous.”
Oak Hill on Love Lane Bed & Breakfast is located at 224 Love Lane in Waynesville. To learn more, visit OakHillonLoveLane.com, or call 828.456.7037 or 617.697.1318. The house and grounds are available as a destination for small weddings and elopements.