History of Engadine in Candler, NC

The mansion was built by Captain John Keais Hoyt who was a Confederate Officer in Company K, 3rd Alabama Infantry in Stonewall Jackson’s Brigade. When the Civil War ended, Captain Hoyt made his way to western North Carolina just outside of Asheville with his wife Mary Bensel Hoyt, and their four daughters. They lived in a cabin on the property while the mansion on the hill was being built. In 1895 they moved into the house, which the Captain named Engadine because the area reminded him of the Engadine Valley in Switzerland.

Engadine was built incorporating the most modern technology of its time. Although the house had fireplaces in every room, central heat was provided by a coal furnace in the basement. Electricity was supplied to the house by a water-powered generator built on the property. Running water was provided by servants, who pumped it to a storage tank in the attic. From there, the gravity-supplied system provided water to sinks contained in closets between each of the bedrooms on the second floor. These water closets are still in use today.

Captain Hoyt planted grapevines behind and next to the mansion and became a successful vintner. His wine cellar, where he made his famous Engadine wine, originally stood in the location where the barn is currently located. Engadine Vineyards sold wine to the Vanderbilts (Biltmore Estate), the Battery Park Hotel in downtown Asheville, and other local customers. Engadine wine was also shipped by rail to customers all over the country. Early Prohibition brought a swift end to the Captains beloved wine business, but two of the his original grape vines are still growing on the grounds.

After the Captain’s death in 1910, the house was sold to E. J. Willingham who was a land speculator from Georgia. He sold the house to Alden Betts who was from New Jersey and used Engadine as a summer home. In 1944, Glenn and Stella Howell bought the house and raised their family at Engadine. In the process of restoring the house, the Howells had to tear down the three-room addition that housed the original kitchen, and the kitchen was moved into what is now the den/office.

In 1988, Bill Maddox and Linda Crawford purchased Engadine and again restored and modernized the house. The plumbing, electrical and heating systems were replaced; central air conditioning and a new kitchen were added. In 1994 Linda Crawford converted the house to a bed and breakfast, and after operating for a short period of time, sold Engadine to Mary and Jim Melaugh.

In January of 1995, Mary and Jim renamed the inn the Owl’s Nest Inn at Engadine to reflect Mary’s passion for collecting owls. Engadine was kept to maintain an historical connection with Captain John Keais Hoyt.

On August 31, 1998, Marg Dente and Gail Kinney purchased the Inn. They built the first three cabins on the property. In September 2000, after successfully getting Engadine listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Marg and Gail hosted a Hoyt – Reese family reunion. The family shared many wonderful stories and provided pictures of Engadine and memoirs written by the Captain’s daughter, Mary Hoyt Reese.

Marg and Gail sold the property to Gerda Angevine in January 2005. Gerda built three additional cabins and operated the inn and cabins until 2009.

On April 12, 2010, Cheryl DeCristofaro and Gretchen Huffsmith purchased the property and renamed it Honey Hill Inn and Cabins at Engadine. In November 2010, Honey Hill was proud to host the Reese family reunion at Honey Hill – direct decendents of Captain John Keais Hoyt and Mary Bensel Hoyt.  During the ensuing four years, Gretchen and Cheryl lovingly restored the mansion to its Victorian elegance and worked diligently to build a loyal following for the property.  They also established new connections to many other Asheville-area inns by way of membership in the Asheville Bed And Breakfast Association.

In November 2014, Tom Watson and Rick Bell, purchased the property to become the next stewards of the storied property.  With a desire to return the property to its historic name, Rick and Tom once again changed it to Engadine Inn And Cabins (at Honey Hill!) and have begun work to expand the property’s offerings, including as a facility for hosting weddings and special events.  The entrance drive is being cleared and landscaped to open a view of the mansion from Smoky Park Highway and several sites on the property are being graded to create outdoor event spaces…spaces with dramatic views of the surrounding mountains.  Future plans include the creation of an enclosed event facility and the addition of new cabins in the wooded sections of the property along Hominy Creek.


We are fortunate to have copies of photos taken of Engadine and the property from the late 1800s. These are some “then and now” photos of some of the rooms in Engadine. The historic photos were taken by Captain and Mrs. Hoyt’s daughter Mary Brickell Hoyt Reese.

Howell Guest Room


Photo on the left is a bedroom belonging to one of Captain and Mrs. Hoyt’s daughters, circa 1900. The photo on the right is the room today, now the Howell Guest Room.

Mary Hoyt Guest Room


Mary Hoyt’s girlhood bedroom, on left, provides evidence that the alcove and closet are original to the house. The photo on right is the Mary Hoyt Guest Room named, of course, for the Captain and Mrs. Hoyt’s youngest daughter, Mary.

Dining Room/Library


Engadine once had a wing that housed the kitchen and dining room. What we use today as a dining room was originally the library, shown in the photo on left taken by Mary Hoyt.

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Captain John Keais Hoyt
Company B, 3rd Alabama Regiment
Stonewall Jackson's Brigade