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Posted at 03:59 PM ET, 04/11/2012

As Grove Park Inn exchanges hands, a look back at its rich history

The historic Grove Park Inn, the nearly 100-year-old lodge that overlooks Asheville, N.C., was sold Tuesday to a private equity company. KSL Capital Partners LLC purchased the renowned resort and spa from the Sammons family, which has owned it for nearly 60 years.
A view of the historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. (John Coutlakis - AP)

The news has a particular resonance for a resort whose history is one of its more attractive characteristics. Sure, its world-class spa and 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course are bragging points. But few others can claim to have played host to 10 presidents, foreign dignitaries and “Axis” diplomats during WWII.

The company has indicated that it has no intention of abandoning the inn’s rich history, although it did announce plans for a $25 million renovation in time for the resort’s centennial celebration in 2013.

“The Grove Park Inn has a deep and storied past and we understand the importance of honoring the history of the property while providing the next level of service and amenities that today’s guests demand,” said Marty Newburger, a principal of KSL Capital Partners.

We took a look back through archived issues of The Post and other publications to see if we could find some examples of its storied past in honor of the sale and impending renovation. And we found a few interesting tidbits.

The Grove Park often made the social pages through the years, with the comings and goings of some famous and fashionable guests. Charles M Schwab and his wife were guests in May 1926, and the steel magnate loved the area so much he returned each spring, and “considered making his home in Asheville during a part of each year,” according to a column in The Post titled “What Your Acquaintances Are Doing.”

Margaret Carter was a guest in summer 1931, and Margaret Wilson, daughter of President Woodrow Wilson, had an extended stay at the inn at her doctor’s suggestion after she lost her singing voice while helping with “war work.”


Guests enjoy Sunset Terrace at the historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. (John Coutlakis - AP)
“It probably will be several months before Miss Wilson will be able to sing. Every day she takes long walks along the mountain trails near the hotel and she has been horseback riding some, although she spends the greater part of her time resting on the porches of the inn,” the New York Times reported on Feb. 20, 1920.

In 1942, the inn welcomed some of their more interesting guests. An April 4 article in The Post recounted the arrival of Axis diplomats, including Italian, Bulgarian and Romanian officials, their families and servants. The party of 242 were “interned” at the inn “for the duration of the war or until an exchange can be arranged,” The Post reported.

Even President Obama has gotten in on the action in North Carolina, leaving the girls in the East Wing and heading off with the first lady for a romantic getaway in 2010.

By Cara Kelly  |  03:59 PM ET, 04/11/2012

 
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