HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — Newberry visitors who visit the Hendersonville Courthouse these days might feel an immediate sense of deja vous — particularly when they see a new exhibit that features The Wheeler Hotel.
Built at the turn of the century, this massive 125-room resort hotel has a distinctive resemblance to The Newberry Hotel. This is not accidental considering that its heritage is the same.
David Henry Wheeler of Little Mountain, former owner of The Newberry Hotel, and his partner H. D. Bardin were approached in 1897 by a group of Hendersonville businessmen who wanted a hotel built in their city to accommodate the arrival of passengers arriving as a result of the railroad that connected Hendersonville to Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg in South Carolina, and ultimately to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Having had great success with their own hotel on the same rail line that ran through Newberry, Wheeler and Bardin decided to join in this venture. Wheeler had the lumber to build the new hotel milled at the family sawmill on his farm in Little Mountain and shipped to Hendersonville on the train.
The hotel opened on July 4, 1899. Sitting on the highest point in Hendersonville, the hotel featured a wide veranda and a grand ballroom with a private viewing area for the chaperones. The proprietor was the 24-year-old son of the owner, Samuel Fair Wheeler.
Living directly across the street was a wealthy Cincinnati diamond merchant and jeweler named Joseph Noterman, who had retired in Hendersonville with his wife and two youngest daughters. Noterman’s large Victorian home was situated on six acres of land, which in another two decades would become Hendersonville’s first high school.
One of Noterman’s daughters, Emily, caught the eye of the young hotel proprietor, and she became the bride of Samuel Fair Wheeler. Every summer they hosted thousands of visitors at the Wheeler Hotel, and their children were born there.
In later years they returned to Newberry and are buried at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Little Mountain, where they were devoted active members.
“The Golden Age of Hendersonville” exhibit features a video production, artifacts and memorabilia from the hotel as well as photos from the home in Little Mountain.
The exhibit opened July 19 and is expected to be in place for a year or more.