Sometimes things work out for the best when they don’t go according to plan. It’s hard to believe that back in 1888, mining entrepreneur Hugh MacRae envisioned Linville as a bustling manufacturing center with hundreds of buildings lining a grid of streets. Fortunately, he came to understand that Linville’s potential was in its existing beauty, not future industry. As people fell in love with Linville for the special place it already was, MacRae’s initial plans for the town fell away. A unique resort community began to form—the center of which has always been The Eseeola Lodge, as it continues to be today.
Harvard professor William James visits Linville and writes, “At last, I have struck it rich here in North Carolina and am in the most peculiar and one of the most poetic places I have ever been in.” He begins construction on a new inn.
The newly complete inn hosts dancing, picnics, and more. The central building was chimney-topped, shingled, and gabled, surrounded by a wide veranda.
Linville begins to develop into a resort destination. The inn creates a nine-hole golf course, adding five more holes in 1900. In 1924, work begins on a new championship golf course designed by the legendary Donald Ross. The old 14-hole course is later abandoned.
Just at the start of the tourist season, the old inn burns. The resort strives to accommodate guests in the beautiful Chestnut Annex—named for its signature (and now irreplaceable) American Chestnut bark shingles selected by renowned architect Henry Bacon. A lounge, dining room, and kitchen are later added to the annex, and it is officially renamed The Eseeola Lodge.
Hard times hit Linville and The Eseeola Lodge is put up for sale. A group of residents—fast friends from many seasons together—purchase the entire resort in an effort to preserve it for future generations.
Fire strikes the resort again, claiming the old golf clubhouse. The current clubhouse is rebuilt in the same location.
Cottagers found the Linville Golf Club to make the golf course more private. The Eseeola Lodge adds a swimming pool, bathhouse, and pavilion for social functions.
John Blackburn is appointed as general manager in 1983. Linville Resorts begins to acquire adjoining property in 1986, which currently amounts to more than 3,000 acres.
The Eseeola Lodge and Linville Golf Club undergo significant renovations. In 2006 the the clubhouse at Linville Golf Club is renovated, featuring a new exterior, golf shop, locker rooms, enlarged dining room, patio seating, and a full-service bar. In 2008, a new 2,500-square-foot tennis facility is constructed, offering four clay courts and a 1,500-square-foot porch.
In 2011, the golf course receives numerous accolades: GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play (No. 61); Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play (No. 3 in N.C.); and Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses (No. 36). In 2014, Linville was again voted Golfweek’s Best Resort (No. 37 in the U.S.) and Best Course You Can Play (No. 5 in N.C.).
We began a new outdoors program in 2011, offering even more ways for guests to enjoy the natural beauty of the Lodge and surrounding Linville—including expanded activities for kids. In 2014, we opened a new full-service spa and fitness facility at the Alan Dickson Center.