Valle Crucis Boutique Hotel
About the Inn
A Snapshot History of The Mast Farm Inn
“So Much More… The world renowned Mast Farm Inn of Valle Crucis is nothing short of a handcrafted masterpiece of North Carolina Folk Art”. ~ Emma Johnson
Joseph Mast walks from Pennsylvania and settles much of the land that is now Valle Crucis, North Carolina. In 1810 Joseph Mast’s son David, builds the two-room log cabin which now sits facing the main house at the Mast Farm Inn. Three generations reside in this cabin, and like most of the Valle Crucis residents, the Masts raise corn, grain, sheep, cattle, and food for the family. Now called the Loom House, this original cabin is widely believed to be the oldest habitable log cabin in the state of North Carolina.
David’s son Andrew begins building the main farm house and Andrew’s son, D. Finley Mast, completes it in 1896. In 1900 – Finley and his wife, Josephine, also known as Aunt Josie, begin to make more additions to the house, and begin to operate the property full-time as both a farm and inn. Over the next 20 years, five different symmetrical additions are completed, ultimately comprising thirteen bedrooms and one bathroom.
When President Woodrow Wilson’s daughter, Jessie, is to be married, Josephine Mast gathers neighbors to help weave spreads and rugs for Jessie’s room in the White House. The president’s family is so impressed by the work they redecorate the room around the weavings. Some of Josephine’s weavings are in the Smithsonian. Josephine used the “Loom House” to make all of her weavings and was very well known for her outstanding work.
The Masts had by now built 16 different buildings as part of the old mountain farmstead all of whom have survived to this day. Most of the buildings in the meadow were used for livestock, storing hay, and grain and for tobacco curing. Finley and Josephine Mast have two sons, Joe, the son who stayed on the farm, is blind by the time he is a young adult. Joe would attach string between the buildings in order to find his way around the farm. Later, with typical mountain ingenuity, he abandoned the strings and created his own personal system for getting from place to place on the farm.
Joseph Mast and his wife Edna run the inn until the 1950’s. The main house is often so full that Joe sleeps upstairs in the loom house to make room for guests. After Edna passes and Joe becomes ill, Edna’s maid Nell, and neighbors, The Yates Family, help take care of Joe. In 1964 Joe Mast moves out of the main house and passes away in 1969. Joe and Edna did not have any children and no one in the family steps in to carry on the tradition of the inn. The Inn closes to the public and stays furnished but closed for the next 20 years.
The United States Department of the Interior evaluates the property. The departments’ representative writes “The numerous buildings that make up the Mast Farm, each expressive of its function, represent vividly the wide variety of operations necessary to a self-sustaining farm complex. The weaving house is particularly interesting, both because “it is an example of log construction which reached its finest development in North Carolina,” and because it was the original dwelling around which the farm grew up. With this building as a nucleus, the farm illustrates the progression of an enterprising pioneer family from this rude early house on a small homestead to a larger, more comfortable house, the seat of much larger land holdings. This complex includes one of the most complete and best preserved groups of nineteenth-century farm buildings in western North Carolina.” The farm is placed on the National Register of Historic Places at that time. In 1980 The Paul Lackey family buys the property from Joe’s heirs and begins renovations to re-open the Inn, but are unable to properly renovate and repair the hand-crafted over two centuries old property.
The Lackeys sell the inn to Francis and Sibyl Pressley who rescue the old homestead. They first renovate and move into the Loom house, then begin the painstaking process of renovating the main house, and other buildings using traditional mountain construction craftsmen. In 1985 the Pressley’s re-open the inn; first the main house to guests and later renovated the granary, blacksmith shop, and the woodwork shop. Years of meticulous work result in the facility today which earns the Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina. The Pressley’s serve family style food, with one meal on the menu each evening. In 1996, Francis and Sibyl Pressley retire as innkeepers and sell the inn to the Schoenfeldt family which carry the Mast’s tradition of hospitality into another century and introduce fine dining. Over the next 10 years they enhance the Inn, meet the high-standards, and criteria required to become a Select Registry Inn.
On January 31st, The Schoenfeldt’s retire and sell the inn to the Deschamps family. On February 1, 2006 the Deschamps purchase and assume management of The Mast Farm Inn. They relocate full-time to the Valle Crucis community en-masse; nine members of the family move to Valle Crucis after having lived in Paris, London, Switzerland, Manhattan, Petionville, Laboule, Coconut Grove, and North Carolina. In April 2006, they began extensive and in-depth restorations, renovations, and improvements. Since 2006, The Deschamps family have continuously invested, restored, renovated, and enhanced the modest rural estate, grounds, micro-farm, inn, rooms, cottages, barn, and added new special event capabilities as well as new cottages.
As The Mast Farm Inn celebrates it 223rd year since Joseph Mast’s settlement in Valle Crucis, and we celebrate our 14th year being its owners and stewards, brief snapshots become increasingly difficult. So much has been done, accomplished, added, and enhanced that it boggles the mind a bit, and we are hard pressed to condense or even see milestones as it is a daily history built with the same hard work it took to manage a family farm in the 1800’s. There is still room for Jeffersonian America in America. In the last ten years we have invested and reinvested in the Inn as much as it cost us to purchase 14 years ago. It is twice the size in terms of land, surface and buildings, all the while conserving its exact same innate style, character, and spirit. We have renovated the buildings, room, cottage and cabins, the farm, the estate, we have added 5 acres to the estate. Working hard, and keeping it simple… It’s not too bad a life, come visit.
A gorgeous array of flowers and herbs
A delightful spot to pause for a few moments or hours
Located across the lane from the principal farmhouse, our main garden near the barn is a delightful spot to pause for a few moments or hours. The grounds are at peak from June through September. Typical annual and perennial plantings include significant collections of multi-colored Lupines, Dahlias, Zinnias, Calendula, Lilies, Tulips, Snapdragons, Hollyhock, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Poppy, Nasturtium, Daisies, and Zinnias. These attract a mesmerizing population of butterflies and birds. We also grow an array of Roses, as well garden herbs for our kitchen.
Also Known As The Equine Staff
Come and Make a New Friend...
Nearby in our four corrals, you will find our farm animals. “The Equine Staff” is composed of our pedigreed American Paint, “Roxie Raccoon”; her Man of La Valle “Donkey-Otay”, who as you might have guessed is a very sweet miniature donkey; and our two Welsh Ponies “Olly Walking on Sunshine” and “Bryer Mint Southern Gent”. The welsh ponies are so child friendly their day jobs were teaching children as young as three to ride and jump. We usually have carrots at the front desk. Come grab a few to make fast friends. Ever invite a horse, donkey, or ponies to join you for lunch? An outdoor picnic platform and grill station at our main corral enables you to invite a horse to lunch or dinner. They have excellent table manners, and while they can lean over and grab stuff off the table, they don’t… usually.