A Wilmington Gem: The Graystone Inn
It doesn’t take long to learn why Wilmington’s Graystone Inn has been the scene for many movies and TV series. From the stunning architecture to the lovingly restored interior spaces, this coastal North Carolina gem exudes romance inside and out.
Located in the heart of Wilmington’s historic district, just three blocks from the Cape Fear River, The Graystone Inn was built during 1905 and 1906 as the private residence of Preston and Elizabeth (“Miss Betty”) Bridgers. Preston was the son of Robert Rufus Bridgers, who was a two-time representative to the Confederate Congress and the president of the Atlantic Coast Line Railway. Seven Bridgers children were raised in the house.
After Miss Betty passed away in 1932, the Bridgers Mansion served as a private home, a boarding house, and an active American Legion Post--before being restored as an inn. Innkeepers Marcia and Richard Moore have added to the renovations by prior innkeepers with updated baths featuring claw foot tubs, double showers, and champagne tubs.
The huge Indiana limestone structure was built in the neo-classical revival style on three lots. The soaring entrance walls are white Italian Carrara marble, with solid red oak woodwork and 14-foot Corinthian columns. To the left, the large parlor includes a fireplace edged with pale green onyx, a concert-ready baby grand piano, and solid brass wall sconces.
Behind the parlor, the library is completely paneled with Honduran mahogany--complimentary wine awaits guests in this cozy room each evening, where those in the know also wander out to the terrace and garden. A sitting room to the right of the entrance features oil-glazed ragged walls to compliment the Italian Verdi marble fireplace and large-scale mantel.
Highlighted by an American Empire-style chandelier from the mid-1800s, the Renaissance-style staircase rises to the second and third floors, where nine varied guestrooms await. Each of the spacious rooms features period furnishings, beautiful draperies, queen- or king-size beds, fine pima cotton linens, telephones, wi-fi, televisions, and full bathrooms with luxurious toiletries, towels, and robes. Two suites offer king-size beds, double showers, and separate champagne tubs.
At the top of the stairs on the second floor, the Latimer Room features a king sleigh bed, fireplace, glass-enclosed shower, and separate champagne tub The St. Thomas Room features views of the St. Thomas Church (built in 1846). From the bathroom, with its glass enclosed shower, there is a view of the First Presbyterian steeple. With a nice view of the garden, a fireplace, and a four-poster king bed, the Bridgers Bedroom was used by Miss Betty during her entire time in the mansion.
The Burgwin-Wright Jr. Suite is named for its view of the 18th century Burgwin-Wright house (which is open for tours). This 750-square-foot suite offers a wonderful sitting area, original built-in window seats, and a fireplace. The French country-style de Rosset Bedroom features large windows, a welcoming fireplace, and a bathroom featuring a claw-footed soaking tub with built-in Victorian shower. Completing the second floor, the St. James Bedroom features a great view of St. James Episcopal Church, and more masculine furnishings.
On the third floor, the Bellevue Suite is the Inn’s largest guestroom (1,300 square feet). The suite offers one of many claw-foot tubs in the inn (this one holds two), as well as a nice two-person enclosed glass shower. The Bellamy Room is also one of the premiere rooms of the inn, thanks to its king bed, cathedral ceiling, two-person enclosed glass shower, and separate champagne tub. The final room on the third floor, the Oleander, has a cathedral ceiling and two-person walk-in shower. It was prominently featured in the recently released film, “The List,” staring Malcolm McDowell.
Breakfast is served in the large dining room, where the Honduran mahogany was painted in 1972 to brighten the atmosphere. Marcia and Rich typically prepare creative breakfasts in the large renovated kitchen, where the options might include “Eggs Gilfix” with grilled chicken, guacamole and Hollandaise sauce or lime-stuffed French toast with a lime curd sauce. There is also a continental buffet, with seasonal fruits, cereal, homemade baked goods, and juices.
As mentioned, the Graystone Inn has frequently been used as a set for motion pictures and television, as well as playing host to many celebrities. For obvious reasons, the Inn is also a fittingly popular spot for weddings, receptions, and other events.
The Moores have seemingly thought of everything to make any stay romantic. From evening wine to menus from nearby restaurants (Wilmington has a great dining scene), the entire Graystone experience provides the essence of romance from the moment of arrival.
By Lynn Seldon
added: December 20, 2008
updated: December 30, 2008
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