The Jarrett House

The iconic Jarrett House has been a fixture of Dillsboro life since the late 1800s.

By Dave Russell


Renovations continue at The Jarrett House, one of the things that made Dillsboro famous for many decades.

“We’re working on turning the barge, for lack of a better term,” current owner and former Whittier resident Chris Ellsworth said on Monday. “It’s such a big project it’s just going to take a long time.”

Ellsworth purchased the 136-year-old Dillsboro inn and adjoining Coach’s Restaurant during the upset bid process following an October 2020 live auction.

Ellsworth is a 1991 Smoky Mountain High School graduate. He is looking to restore the property to its “past glory,” he said.

“It’s going to be The Jarrett House, the old house, and it’s going to be preserved and it is going to look much nicer than it has in the last 100 years,” Ellsworth said.

He plans to separate Coach’s from the Jarrett House.

“It’s going to be part of The Jarrett House still, it’s just not going to be physically attached,” Ellsworth said. “I’m going to try to historically preserve The Jarrett House like it used to be, or as close as I can make like it used to be, and we’ll still utilize Coach’s in a less convenient but equally usable way.”

An 8-foot wide walkway separated the buildings for many years.

“That’s the way it was built,” he said. “We’re going to try to do something there to pretty it up a bit. Maybe we’ll have a wooden boardwalk that goes between those two buildings, maybe it will be red brick sidewalk to match the rest of Dillsboro’s sidewalks. And we’ll make the access from the parking lot an inviting place to walk for customers.” 

The future of Coach’s is somewhat up in the air, though it will be part of The Jarrett House, he said.

“I’ve been bouncing ideas, like making it ‘Stagecoaches’ or something, like a western-style saloon looking thing, or I’ve had ideas to make it a convention facility that’s generic and clean and beautiful,” he said. 

The Jarrett House was known for its dining, and Ellsworth wants to see that return. 

“I still want the same meal from 100 years ago, the same food,” he said. “If I can get that exact recipe back, then that is the plan for The Jarrett House.”

“The foundation work has started and hopefully will be done soon,” he said. “Repairs to other parts of the building will begin very soon. My target is to do the exterior and bottom floor of the hotel, which is the restaurants, kitchens and commons area. I want to renovate that, and Coach’s and the shops as Phase I. And then Phase II would be to open all the hotel rooms.”

Dillsboro has been welcoming, he said.

“I’ve never done a project where I have had so much support,” he said. “I just hope it works out the way I see it in my head. I’m still optimistic that my sign is correct, it says ‘Opening in 2022,’ but I would not bet my life on it.”