High Hampton Inn is a special place with a rich history and strong ties to family. In its more than 180 year history, it has only been owned by three families.
The first owner of the property was General Wade Hampton III – a former South Carolina governor, US senator, and a Civil War general. He and his family used the Cashiers, NC estate as an escape from South Carolina’s summer heat. The property belonged to Wade until the 1880s, when he transferred it to his three unmarried sisters.
In 1890, Hampton’s niece, Caroline Hampton, married Dr. William Halsted, a chief surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore who was famous for his superior surgical techniques and a pioneer in the use of anesthesia. The couple honeymooned at the Hampton Hunting Lodge, and Dr. Halsted became so enthralled by its beauty that he purchased the estate and renamed it High Hampton.
The Halsteds greatly enhanced the beauty of the property by planting the stunning dahlia garden and exotic trees and shrubs, most of which are still thriving on the front lawn of the Inn.
After the Halsteds passed away in 1922, the property was purchased by E.L. McKee. He and his wife constructed a two-story inn, a golf course, and tennis court on the estate. Unfortunately, on May 15, 1932, a fire started in a nearby cottage that quickly spread to the Hampton Hunting Lodge and inn, destroying the buildings and their historic contents.
Construction of a new inn and several cottages began in the fall of 1932 and was completed by May 1933. The new inn, built on the site of the Hampton Hunting Lodge, was larger than the original, had three stories, a majestic four-sided fireplace, and was covered with chestnut bark, making it naturally insect-resistant.
The property was later passed on to Bill McKee, son of E.L McKee. After the death of his father, Bill McKee became much more involved with the operations of the inn and eventually was named president of High Hampton Inc.
Bill McKee’s son, Will, spent his childhood at the inn and served in many different capacities. After graduating from the Cornell School of Hotel Management in 1982, Will McKee returned to High Hampton to work with his father. Today, Will carries on the family tradition of his father and grandfather.
What began as the Hampton’s retreat in the 1830s continues as a haven today, more than 180 years later. Guests find a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of everyday life while vacationing at the Inn. The cool mountain breezes continue to blow and refresh just as they did in Wade Hampton’s time. In these complicated times, it is refreshing to find a place where very little changes, except the seasons.
To read the entire history of High Hampton Inn, please click here.