Brownstone Inn finds new owner

Friday, November 16, 2012
Joe Edwards has purchased the Brownstone Inn and is in the process of getting it ready to reopen next spring. The 100-year-old sycamore in front has grown around an old trolley rail set up as a post. Photo by Jennifer Jackson

Joe Edwards of Cabot, Ark. has purchased the Brownstone Inn at the end of North Main and plans to reopen it in early spring. The inn was formerly operated as a bed and breakfast, but he's just going to offer lodging.

"We're going to put it back as an inn," Edwards said.

Built in 1895, the two-story limestone building was the home of Ozarka Water Company for decades, and is in the National Register of Historic Places. Part of the wall of one guest suite is a sliding warehouse door original to the building. Exposed beams holding up the second floor run across the 13-foot-high ceilings of the first-floor suites.

"The structure is sound," Edwards said.

Edwards, head of an investment management firm, said he has been looking at real estate in Eureka Springs for several years in casual fashion. But what was available was either too expensive or in need of more maintenance and repair than he could manage. Then he saw the Brownstone Inn and called the real estate agent.

"This is an affair of the heart," he said. "The building itself has a lot of character -- it just reaches out and grabs you."

The inn has four suites, which came furnished, the innkeeper's suite, which will be turned into a fifth guest suite, and an office with a sitting area, dining room and kitchen. The rooms were in show condition, Edwards said, although the building needs cosmetic work and a new roof. He plans to do the work on a project basis, and invite friends to Eureka Springs for the weekend and tell them to bring old clothes.

"Having a property here gives me a reason to be here," he said.

Edwards, who was born in Heber Springs and grew up in Little Rock, has lived in Cabot for 20 years. He also owns real estate there and in Jackson, Tenn., consisting of commercial office space. Buying an inn is a departure for him, he said, and the least practical of any property he has acquired.

"The other investments had a predictable income flow," he said. "This has more of a nostalgia factor."

Buying the inn also fits in with his philosophy of life.

"If you're not having fun, you're missing out on one of the great benefits of life," he said. "You're not alive if you're not doing something that is a little bit challenging.

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