Old Edwards Inn was Highlands’ earliest boarding house, known then as Central House, built on property owned by John Norton in July of 1878. Norton paid $60 for four lots on the southeast corner of 4th and Main Streets and constructed a two-and-a-half story frame structure with a gabled roof and a two-tier front porch.
In 1880 Norton exchanged Central House with Joseph Halleck for Halleck’s just completed Highlands House. Halleck ran Central House for eight years before selling it to James Rideout, who immediately traded it to David Norton of Norton Community for Satulah House, an Inn that Rideout had just built on Norton’s 5th Street property.
For the next seventeen years, from May through October, David Norton and his wife Martha “Mattie” Adams, better known as Uncle Dave and Aunt Mat, managed Central House. Their inn became widely known for its hospitality. The Nortons entertained generously and lavishly. Rev. Archibald Deal attributed to Aunt Mat a “joyous spirit warmed one like a sunbeam.” Uncle Dave and Aunt Mattie were as good and honest as they were loyal to their friends, and their charity was known to be boundless.
Source: Randolph P. Shaffner, Heart of the Blue Ridge: Highlands, North Carolina
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