A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

[caption id="attachment_185510" align="alignright" width="300"] Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz[/caption] From their perch on The Greystone Inn’s south lawn, facing the sparkling waters of Lake Toxaway, Paulette Todd and Regan Browell are

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

[caption id="attachment_185510" align="alignright" width="300"] Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz[/caption] From their perch on The Greystone Inn’s south lawn, facing the sparkling waters of Lake Toxaway, Paulette Todd and Regan Browell are

A Lakeside Escape at The Greystone Inn

The living room and entrance at The Greystone Inn
Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz, the original owner of The Greystone Inn

Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz Photography courtesy of The Greystone Inn

From their perch on The Greystone Inn’s south lawn, facing the sparkling waters of Lake Toxaway, Paulette Todd and Regan Browell are elbow-deep in dirt, tending the raised beds that are tiered into the hillside. Planting seasonal vegetables may not be in their official job descriptions as general manager and director of operations, respectively, but they seize every opportunity to contribute to the inn’s success. “I think I’ve put so much of my heart and soul into this place because I want to see it thrive,” Todd says. “You can almost feel Ms. Lucy being happy. She has such a presence here.”

Every old house has a story, and sometimes those tales remain mysteries. The 1915 Greystone, on the other hand, is an open book — and Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz, its original owner, is the main character. Her story comes to life in rooms like the Rockefeller Suite and the Reynolds Room, named for some of her early guests; in the peals of laughter from children splashing in the pool; in the intimate conversations between locals who’ve stopped in for a cocktail at the Mansion Bar.

Todd and Browell shed their gardening gloves and pack up their trowels. They take a moment to breathe in the mountain air. “I always tell the staff, if you’re ever having a bad day, walk outside for five minutes,” Todd says, “and you’ll feel so much better.”

• • •

Lucy discovered Lake Toxaway when she and her first husband, George Armstrong, arrived as guests at the Toxaway Inn, another legendary property that exists today only in pictures. The luxury inn, built in 1903, “drew the who’s who of the world: Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, R.J. Reynolds, and the Vanderbilts,” says John L. Nichols III, cofounder of the Historic Lake Toxaway Foundation.

More than the glamour, however, Lucy fell in love with nature and the fresh mountain air. This is where she wanted to build a house of her own.

The entrance to The Greystone Inn with Lake Toxaway in the background

Since The Greystone Inn opened in 1985, guests have been able to enjoy late-afternoon cruises around Lake Toxaway aboard Miss Lucy. photograph by Tim Robison

Hoping that Lucy would give up her dream to live there, George encouraged her to pick a spot at the lake and camp there for an entire summer. Undeterred, Lucy pitched a 2,000-square-foot tent over a wood floor. Eleven servants lived in a smaller tent nearby. “We think we know what glamping is,” Todd says. “They really knew back then!”

Seeing Lucy’s love for the site, George relented. The Armstrongs moved into “Hillmont” in the summer of 1915. They often zipped over to the Toxaway Inn to hobnob with friends and invited them back to stay in the guest rooms that now bear their names. “People would come to Lake Toxaway for the entire summer,” Todd says. “We have old black-and-white photos of limos lining up in the driveway and people getting out in their ball gowns.”

The bed and bookshelves in The Greystone Inn's Rockefeller Suite

The Greystone Inn’s two-story Rockefeller Suite served as the library when Lucy Camp Armstrong Moltz called the building home. photograph by Tim Robison

But the golden days didn’t last long. One year after Lucy built her house, a hurricane-fueled, 30-foot wave rolled over Lake Toxaway and burst its dam. The Toxaway Inn survived the flood, but without the lake, the inn lost its luster.

Lucy didn’t need the inn’s glamour or the lake. Toxaway was her home. She lived in her Hillmont estate for almost half a century before the dam was rebuilt in 1961, and she lived in a smaller home by the lake until her death nine years later.

• • •

Today, guests can still feel Lucy’s warmth at The Greystone Inn. They tread over some of the original stones that George and Lucy harvested from their property to create footpaths. Those stones and other masonry inspired the name of the inn. Some paths lead to the resort’s tennis courts, others to the spa and the Lakeside Dining Room.

The Greystone’s threshold — Swiss chalet-style board-and-batten siding punctuated by windows brimming with flower boxes — feels both grand and inviting. Inside, reflections of wavy light from original glass casement windows dance around the mahogany-paneled room. Comfortable leather chairs sit by the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. Just behind the living room, plants line the windowsill of the lake-facing solarium.

Wood carving over the fireplace of a diploma and family crest

Lucy was an advocate for education. A diploma carved into one of Greystone’s fireplace mantels pays homage to her passion. photograph by Tim Robison

Throughout Greystone, architectural details, like a diploma carved into a fireplace mantel, remind guests of Lucy’s generosity and love for her community. “There was no middle class at all in this area; you were either a wealthy socialite coming in for the summer or you were poor,” Todd says. “Ms. Lucy was one of the first people who moved here full-time and had income. She was all about empowering women through education. If you worked for her and you or your children wanted to go to college, she would write the check.”

During their stay at Greystone, guests bask in the simple luxury that Lucy enjoyed. They can play board games for hours on rainy days or fish and swim in the lake’s clean waters when the sun is shining. They can read in the inn’s nooks — indoors and out. They can fall in love with Lucy’s refuge.

A world map hangs in the downstairs hallway, and pushpins mark her expeditions. “She traveled the world twice, but she fell in love with Lake Toxaway,” Todd says. “This was such an important place for her. I think it would make her happy to see that everyone is still coming here to celebrate how beautiful it is.”

The Greystone Inn
220 Greystone Lane
Lake Toxaway, NC 28747
(828) 966-4700

This story was published on Jun 24, 2024

Robin Sutton Anders

Robin Sutton Anders is a writer based in Greensboro.