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How It All Got Started

Hemlock Inn was built by Lorene and Seth Haynie from Atlanta, GA.  Lorene was the dietician at Emory University and Seth was a realtor in Decatur , Georgia . They had learned about Western North Carolina when Lorene was hired to cook for the workers constructing the Fontana Dam.  They fell in love with the area and in the early 1940′s bought a mountain farm near Bryson City, NC  from Plumer Plemmons. The 65 acre tract had lots of woods and sat on top of a small mountain at an elevation of 2300 feet.

The Haynies decided to open a small inn. Hemlock Inn, named for the great hemlock tree, opened July 4, 1952 . The original building had only nine rooms, but that soon changed. By 1958, a second building, with 12 more guest rooms, had been added. Then came the three cottages in 1965, 1970, and 1971, making a total of 26 units. At first, Hemlock Inn was open only in the summer. Later, the fall and spring seasons were added. The Inn operated for two years without a telephone! The first cook to work with Lorene Haynie was Mrs. Annie Sitton who retired in 1974 at the age of 74.

the Johnson's the second owners

the Johnson’s the second owners


In 1964, Georgia and Raymond Johnson, from Washington, GA,  bought the inn. The Haynies stayed with them for two years. During that period, the Rondette (it’s like a tree house) was built and the second story was added to the innkeepers residence. The Johnsons sold the Inn to John and Ella Shell from Marietta Ga in 1968 and stayed with them for a year to teach them the business.

The Shell's. John and Ella Jo, and 2 daughters Dianne and Lainey

The Shell’s. John and Ella Jo, and 2 daughters Dianne and Lainey

The Shells came to the inn with their two daughters, Dianne and Lainey, and ran it for the next 20 years. In 1987 Lainey and her husband Mort White came to the inn help with the operation. The Whites raised their 3 sons here (Andrew, Steven and John Thomas). The Shells retired a few years later and the new Innkeepers Cottage was built for them in 1990.


As you can see from our history, we started small, and with a few changes, we are still small, because our guests like it that way and so do we. Our philosophy, which guides the way we operate the Inn , hasn’t changed. We want to give our guests a change of scenery and a change of pace, we want to share the beauty and the peace we enjoy here, and we want to know that our guests’ holiday has been restful, relaxing, and happy!