Hillsboro native Aaron Huffman and his wife, Sparrow, were in the market for a family business – a place they could own and run together, and give visitors a vacation destination in the beautiful Greenbrier Valley. They ended their search with the purchase of the General Lewis Inn, in Lewisburg.
“My wife and I for the last couple of years, we’ve been just tinkering with the idea of having some kind of event center or a wedding destination,” Huffman said. “We’ve talked about a Bed and Breakfast. We looked at a couple places. My wife was actually out for a run one evening and she came back and said, ‘I think the General Lewis is for sale, let’s inquire about it.’”
Inquire they did and four months later, they signed the documents and made it official.
“It wasn’t totally on a whim,” Huffman said. “We were kind of looking for the next step in life and it just happened to come along.”
The General Lewis Inn was originally a house built in 1834. It was purchased by the Hock family and in 1929, it opened as an Inn. The establishment was passed down through three generations of the Hock family before the Huffmans purchased it.
While the couple thought about building something new, the idea of continuing the legacy of a historic building seemed perfect.
“We live in a historic home,” Huffman said. “We both appreciate the history of Lewisburg. We got married at the Inn five years ago and we both appreciate old, classic and timeless locations. This place is already an established landmark.”
The Huffmans plan to continue operating the business as an inn and restaurant. They also plan to add a bar for patrons and locals.
“We are going to put in a bar, just open mostly to the guests, but also open to the public,” Huffman said. “We want to have something more for the guests while they’re waiting for dinner and things like that. We’re going to expand dining out onto the front porch, so we’re going to have some covered dining.”
The Inn has 25 rooms and a restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner.
“We’re switching the menu in the restaurant to serve as much local produce, local meats, local eggs to keep the money in our community as much as we can,” Huffman said. “The Inn was another opportunity for us to continue to work for ourselves but to also provide jobs for people in the community.”
While there are new elements to the Inn, the Huffmans plan to keep the historic beauty of the 85-year-old home.
“It’s been in the same family for eighty-five years,” Huffman said. “There haven’t been a lot of upgrades. We’ve seen photos from when the place opened and there’s the same furniture in the same place. You have guests who have been coming here for fifty years we’ll say, and they’re going to be resistant to change. They come here because it’s what they know and it’s what they’re used to. At the same time, we’re not doing anything drastic, but there’s things that need to be upgraded.”
In its 85 years, the General Lewis has seen people come and go – some of which, according to local legend, never left.
“There’s supposed to be three spirits that live here,” Huffman said. “We don’t have any personal experience with the spirits. It’s neat and I hope that we can experience that. Personally, I’ve never experienced any ghosts or any hauntings, but I’ve never tried to put myself in that position.
“I’ve talked to employees that have been here ten years and they feel they’ve never seen anything and then I’ll talk to other employees and they say ‘oh, absolutely,’” Huffman continued. “They see a door close or see the rocking chair rocking or hear voices. Supposedly, there’s a little girl and she has tea in one of the rooms. I’m really excited to experience this if I’m able to. Maybe our children – they say children are more in tune. Maybe they’ll be able to connect.”
While the haunting stories do draw people, Huffman said they don’t want to become just a haunted house.
As the new generation of owners, the Huffmans hope to add their own stories to the history of the General Lewis Inn.
“The original owners, it was their passion, and then their children, it was their passion, as well,” Huffman said. “Then, it came on to the siblings and they did it for a couple of years, but I don’t think it was their passion. We hope to bring some of that back. Some of the desire to make this an incredible destination for people and continue to be this landmark.”
For more information on the General Lewis Inn, visit www.generallewisinn.com
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com