History of Beechwood Inn

History of Beechwood Inn: Beechwood Inn was in its historic Hay-Day as a summer house from 1922 through the early 60’s. It was originally built as a private residence in 1916 for Reverend Herman Charles and Lura Bucholz and their family. Reverend Bucholz passed away in 1921, leaving Lura and three daughters.

 

 

History of Beechwood Inn

Beechwood Inn was in its historic Hay-Day as a summer house from 1922 through the early 60’s. It was originally built as a private residence in 1916 for Reverend Herman Charles and Lura Bucholz and their family. Reverend Bucholz passed away in 1921, leaving Lura and three daughters.

After the death of her husband, Lura needed a way to earn a living so she converted their large home into a summer house, offering boarding to upscale city folk. Guests would come to the cool North Georgia Mountains to enjoy our views and escape the oppressive summr heat and mosquito borne illnesses in Charleston, Atlanta, Savannah and elsewhere.

To make the Beechwood Inn more inviting Lura and her daughter Bernice added a spring fed “plunge” pool. Filled with 56 degree spring water a guest would probably take a quick dunk and then pop back out to warm in the sun. One advantage of the swimming pool was when the guests finished playing, the spring house was nearby and they could drink fresh cider and buttermilk to their hearts’ content. A 1931 ad stated that the inn had all the modern conveniences: fresh vegetables from our garden, fresh milk from our dairy, chickens and eggs daily from our poultry yard, and the most appetizing things to eat on the market.

During this period the original house and log cabin had many additions to accommodate growing numbers of visitors. There was a large barn, orchard and a number of two story cottages. Nancy Smith Fichter, Lillian Smith’s niece, recalls Aunt Lil periodically taking her to dinner at Beechwood Inn. She recalls Beechwood Inn as being famous for its fried chicken. Lura offered it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Georgia voted for prohibition in 1907, the first state to do so, fully 13 years before Federal prohibition. Prohibition was not repealed until 1935, so Rabun County embraced about 28 years of being officially “dry.” During this turbulent period making moonshine was an accepted way of life and Rabun County became the moonshine capital of Georgia. Soon after the vote for prohibition the focus of local moonshiners was to supply the grand hotels surrounding Tallulah Gorge. With the damming of the Tallulah River, the gorge and its landmark hotels fell on difficult times, paving the way for new destination hotels and summer houses in Clayton and Dillard.

One of the maids at Beechwood Inn for over 10 during the 30’s years provided us a rich oral history of the times. Lura did not allow any of her maids and housekeepers to be married, but this woman was secretly married. After a long days work the maids retired to their basement quarters. After taking a nap, they would walk to downtown for a night of partying, and possibly some drinking. This maid spent the nights with her husband. At 2AM they hiked back to the inn. She recalled Lura Bucholtz regularly coming to their quarters at 4:00AM to wake them saying, “Why are you lazy heads still sleeping, get up and get to work!”

The onset of the Great Depression ushered in a long period of decline that impacted North Georgia’s economy and the fate of the region’s grand old hotels and summer houses. Some, like Beechwood Inn, survived as a boarding house into the 60’s, but many of the old hotels and summer homes, fell into disrepair, burned or were converted to other businesses as tourism and visitation slowed. Lura passed away in 1957. Bernice operated it for another few years until her death. Finally, with the advent of electricity, air conditioning and motor hotels, Beechwood Inn became arcane and closed its doors to visitors. Its good fortune was that it largely disappeared from sight under a blanket of kudzu and poison ivy. The Bucholtz land was partitioned, but the old inn remained shrouded in obscurity for two decades.

Realtor Peggy Melton adds to the history of Beechwood Inn and tells of being afraid to take people to “show” the inn because of its rickety condition. Windows were broken and it was inhabited by snakes and other critters. One of our neighbors tells us now of hi\ow he wished that it would burn down as it was often home to vagrants. For awhile, one vagrant housed his horse upstairs in one of the guest rooms.

During this latter period Beechwood Inn passed through several hands of ownership, but little was done to permanently stabilize the old homestead until it was acquired by David and Gayle Darugh 11 seasons ago. Many modern improvements have been made, but each designed to retain the vintage character of the inn’s history. Today visitors can bask in the inns historic mountain charm but they can also connect to high speed wifi. Beechwood Inn continues the tradition of warm hospitality and fine dining. Though they no longer raise cows, chickens and pigs for menu items, they strive to use local products whenever possible and to provide guests with the best of American cuisine.

History of Beechwood Inn

David Darugh is co-owner of the Beechwood Inn, located in Clayton, GA. beechwoodinn.ws. The inn includes a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence Restaurant that features fresh and local products. David was the General Counsel of the American Wine Society from 1990 to 2001.