Nearly 35 years after it was established, the first bed-and-breakfast in the New River Gorge is on the market, and times have changed almost inconceivably through the period, according to its owners.
"Nothing is the same as it was here 35 years ago," says Susana McArthur, the third owner of the Garvey House since it was established as a lodging facility in 1988.
"The Internet was still young when we took on the property, and some things, like whitewater rafting, have been completely reinvented since it was established."
For instance, the creation of a full-fledged national park was still a pipe dream when the Garvey House first opened its doors to guests. The National Park Service had established the New River Gorge National River ten years earlier, but the designation as a park was many years off.
Airbnbs were not only unheard of, but they were also inconceivable before the invention of the World Wide Web. McArthur coincidentally established the property's first website through West Virginia Explorer in 2005, long before online marketplaces like VRBO were widely used.
Rock climbing also attracted only a few thousand souls annually to the gorge in 1988, though now it attracts tens of thousands of climbers, and the region ranks alongside Yosemite and the Shawangunks as a climbing destination.
Whitewater rafting, too, was flourishing in the gorge well into the '90s. However, the pursuit would decline significantly by 2000, only to be reignited with the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve designation in 2020.
Now, however, McArthur says it's time to pass the property near the park's edge on to new owners and say goodbye to her neighbors at Winona, West Virginia.
"The new park is opening so many new doors and creating so many new possibilities, but it's time for us to move nearer to our families and grandchildren, and its' time for someone new to take on the property," she said.
Even before the five-bedroom home became an inn, it had already achieved local fame for its gardens and as the home of one of the region's chief industrialists, J.W. Garvey, superintendent of the Maryland-New River Coal Co.
Garvey and his wife developed the home following its construction by the coal company in 1900, notably building an elaborate series of gardens that climb into the forests behind the home.
"Mrs. Garvey was especially proud of the gardens," McArthur said. "She spent years designing the ponds and walls and ordering the plants with the help of a long-time gardener."
McArthur said that in recent years she had been working with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia to nominate the property to the National Register of Historic Places.
Grant and tax credits may be available to help restore and maintain the property if found eligible for the register.
For more information on the sale of the property, visit the listing at Foxfire Realty.