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Discover the Mast Farm Inn with its rustic 18th century origins and elegance.

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Mast Farm Inn, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012, dates back to 1792.


Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Mast Farm Inn is part of a historic homestead that Joseph Mast founded in the late 1700s. Known as the “Mast Farm,” Mast had walked all the way from Pennsylvania to settle this beautiful estate. In 1812, Joseph Mast's son, David, then built the two-room log cabin that currently faces the Mast Farm Inn. Three generations subsequently resided within this incredibly historic structure over the next several decades. Now called the “Loom House,” the cabin is believed to be the most historic building of its kind in all of North Carolina. Nevertheless, the actual dwelling that would later become the Mast Farm Inn did not appear until 1880, when David’s own son, Andrew, began constructing it to serve as the estate’s main house. But it would be Andrew’s son, D. Finley, who would finish it some 16 years later. D. Finley and his wife, Josephine, would spend the next two decades gradually expanding the building by adding five unique, symmetrical wings. These structures contained 13 distinctive bedrooms, as well as one bathroom. By 1919, the Masts now managed a farm that contained 16 different agricultural buildings. The two also operated a thriving tobacco-curing enterprise that supplemented their livestock and produce businesses.

D. Finley and Josephine’s son, Joe—nicknamed “Blind Joe”—ran the farm through the 1940s. During this time, Joe and his own wife, Edna, started entertaining borders at the main house. The popularity of its bedrooms became so great that Joe often had trouble finding a place to sleep! When Edna finally passed away in 1950, a group of family friends started running the Mast Farm on an aging Joe’s behalf. Despite their best efforts, the farm closed after Joe Mast himself passed away in 1969. The Mast Farm then sat dormant for the next two decades, since no heir was interested in managing the homestead fulltime. Thankfully, Francis and Sibyl Pressley eventually saved the estate when they bought the rights to operate the Mast Farm in 1984. The Pressleys spent years refurbishing every facility onsite, including the woodwork shop, the blacksmith shop, and the granary. They even fully renovated the main house into a lovely country retreat that they christened as the “Mast Farm Inn.” Their painstaking efforts even earned the farm the “Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit” from the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina. A member of Historic Hotels of America since 2016, guests today can still feel the rich legacy of both the Masts and the Pressleys whenever they step inside.

  • About the Location +

    Mast Farm Inn is one of a few dozen historical structures that constitute the renowned Valle Crucis Historic District. The district itself is located within the larger village of Valle Crucis, which is just a short drive away from the neighboring town of Banner Elk. This quaint country settlement actually founded shortly after the American Revolution by enterprising hinterland pioneers. While Native Americans had long resided in the region for generations, the first Euro-Americans to settle the land were groups of farmers—one of them being Joseph Mast—in the late 18th century. Their homesteads gradually coalesced to form a loosely connected hamlet that was anchored along the Watauga River. While the farmers lived in relative isolation, they nonetheless created a vibrant local economy fueled by corn, grain, and livestock. Many of the farms proved prosperous enough that they could support numerous craftsmen, who supplied them with different kinds of rudimentary farming implements. Then, in 1840, a Protestant missionary from Raleigh named Levi Silliman Ives stumbled upon the area. Taken aback by its stunning beauty and tranquility, he set about developing an Episcopal church and an accompanying missionary school in the heart of town. Ives specifically dreamed that his religious complex would blossom into a Protestant monastery like the Catholic ones that dominated Europe centuries before. Nevertheless, when he was finally ready to unveil both structures, he decided to call them the “Valle Crucis Mission.” A Latin phrase meaning “Vale of the Cross,” Ives had chosen the name upon believing he saw a series of local creeks form the outline of a St. Andrew’s Cross.

    Over time, the rest of the community became known as “Valle Crucis,” even after Ives had closed his mission and moved across the Atlantic to England. (Ironically, he had converted completely to Catholicism after his relocation.) Valle Crucis subsequently remained a remote rural community, despite the construction of additional shops and municipal structures toward the end of the century. Perhaps one of the greatest local landmarks to open was the Mast General Store in 1883, which is still in business today. Local civic leaders also oversaw the creation of two education facilities two decades later called “Auxiliary Hall” and “Auchmuty Hall.” The two structures subsequently housed numerous religious and agricultural classes, while also functioning as dormitories, dining rooms, and assembly halls. (Auxilitary Hall unfortunately burned down in 1911.) Even the erstwhile mission facility was also reopened for a short time, debuting as a boarding school for girls. Today, Valle Crucis is a celebrated vacation hotspot deep in the verdant wilderness of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cultural heritage travelers will find its serene atmosphere incredibly entrancing and scenery awe-inspiring. The community is near several outstanding cultural attractions, as well, including Tweetsie Railroad, Mystery Hill, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Grandfather Mountain State Park, and the historic Blue Ridge Parkway. Come experience the heritage of the greater North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains with a trip out to peaceful Valle Crucis.

  • About the Architecture +

    While Mast Farm itself dates back to the 1790s, the actual structure that constitutes the Mast Farm Inn today was developed at the height of the Gilded Age. In order to keep with the complex’s historical character, Andrew Mast and his son, D. Finley, decided to use Colonial Revival-style design aesthetics as the source of their inspiration. Colonial Revival architecture itself is perhaps the most widely used building form in the entire United States. It reached its zenith at the height of the Gilded Age, where countless Americans turned to the aesthetic to celebrate what they feared was America’s disappearing past. The movement came about in the aftermath of the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, in which people from across the country traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the American Revolution. Many of the exhibitors chose to display cultural representations of 18th-century America, encouraging millions of people across the country to preserve the nation’s history. Architects were among those inspired, who looked to revitalize the design principles of colonial English and Dutch homes. This gradually gave way to a larger embrace of Georgian and Federal-style architecture, which focused exclusively on the country’s formative years. As such, structures built in the style of Colonial Revival architecture featured such components as pilasters, brickwork, and modest, double-hung windows. Symmetrical designs defined Colonial Revival-style façades, anchored by a central, pedimented front door and simplistic portico. Gable roofs typically topped the buildings, although hipped and gambrel forms were used, as well. This building form remained immensely popular for years until largely petering out in the late-20th century. Nevertheless, architects today still rely upon Colonial Revival architecture, using the form to construct all kinds of residential buildings and commercial complexes. Many buildings constructed with Colonial Revival-style architecture are even identified as historical landmarks at the state level, and the U.S. Department of the Interior has even listed a few of them in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

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