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Historic Haunts in the Carolinas

Newberry Firehouse Conference Center

Newberry, South Carolina

The firehouse in Newberry, South Carolina, was built in the 1890s, but the Works Progress Administration expanded and renovated it in an Art Deco style in the 1930s. The building was decommissioned in the 1980s.

In 2005, a $2.3 million renovation was launched to transform the two-story, cream-colored building into a state-of-the-art conference and event center. The Newberry Firehouse Conference Center opened in 2007 with a ceremonial fire-hose uncoupling in place of a ribbon cutting.

People choose the conference center for its location, said facility manager Suzanne Elston, not only for its proximity to larger cities like Columbia, Spartanburg and Greenville, but also its location across the street from a 73-room Hampton Inn and behind the restored 1881 Newberry Opera House, with 426 seats.

“They find us because of where we’re located, but after that it is the uniqueness of the building and the history of it that attracts people,” she said.

The renovation maintained much of the building’s historic detail. On the ground floor, the original firehouse doors anchor the lobby, which sits in front of the center’s largest space, a 1,680-square-foot function room. Upstairs, in the former sleeping quarters, are a boardroom, a small lobby and four conference rooms, including two that can be combined into a 730-square-foot space.

Though the building still has the original fire pole, guests can’t give it a go; the pole had to be moved during renovations, so it no longer works. The staff also gives groups tours of the building. A highlight is in the basement, where the city jail used to be: In a former jail cell, a prisoner scratched his name; the year, 1974; and what he was in for, armed robbery.

Westglow Resort and Spa

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

The centerpiece of Westglow Resort and Spa in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, is the gleaming-white, Greek Revival-style manor house famed writer and artist Elliott Daingerfield built in 1917 as a summer home. In 1991, it became a health and wellness retreat. Then, in 2005, following a multimillion-dollar renovation, it transitioned to a full-service resort and spa.

Today, the Mansion at Westglow is still the crown jewel of the 42-acre estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The resort has 11 separate guest accommodations, and six of those are bedrooms on the second floor of the manor house, said Jen Williams, Westglow’s guest services director/weddings and special events coordinator. The Lodge at Westglow has three separate suites, and two homes — the Daingerfield House and the Fleur de Lis Lodge — each have four bedrooms.

The Mansion’s largest space is outside: The courtyard, which must be tented, can accommodate banquets for up to 200 guests. The largest indoor space is the Blue Ridge Room, where 50 seated guests can mingle by the fireplace and take in views of Grandfather Mountain.

The room is “great when used with the West Portico,” i.e., the Mansion’s front porch. French doors open onto the porch, where another 50 seated attendees or 100 reception guests can watch the sun set over the mountains.

Smaller spaces include a library, a sunroom, a dining room and a conference room. Rowland’s Restaurant may also be available for buyouts, she said.

The resort’s mountain location means “we have a hiking program that is quite extensive,” Williams said. Guided three- and five-mile hikes depart every morning and are free for overnight guests. Groups can also arrange privately guided sightseeing or birdwatching hikes, schedule private yoga classes or have the wellness director lead a stress-management consultation.