Fresh out of the gates, there’s plenty of bad news out there – political division and COVID still hang in the air like smoke from a tire fire – but Dillsboro is bucking the bad-news trend in impressive fashion.
Shot: The famed Jarrett House has a new owner and a new future.
Chaser: Work on the Haywood Road Bridge may be well ahead of schedule.
It goes without saying that Dillsboro’s identity in inextricably linked with the Jarrett House. That sort of thing happens when an establishment has been a destination for well over 130 years. As any homeowner knows, a house involves constant upkeep, and the Jarrett House had suffered the ravages of time to the point its future was in doubt.
In stepped former Whittier resident Chris Ellsworth, who won an extended bidding war for the Jarrett House and adjoining Coach’s Restaurant.
Ellsworth, who now lives in Georgia, and Mohamad Darar of Morrisville were the final suitors for the property. Ellsworth put down a bid of $300,000, and Farar had 10 days to respond with a bid of $315,000 but declined to do so.
Ellsworth’s plans aren’t fully fleshed out, but his initial take is promising.
“I have to figure out what the next steps are. I’ve never bought one like this before,” said Ellsworth. The 1991 Smoky Mountain High graduate is hoping to restore the property to its “past glory.”
“I got a great deal, which allows me the opportunity to invest more in it,” Ellsworth said. “Ultimately, being able to do something that is an attraction to men and women, making the place a bit more comfortable, making people want to stay there instead of visiting for an hour just to grab some food.”
Ellsworth will look at the Dillsboro icon from the foundation up and go from there. “Once I have a level building that is strong and structurally sound, then I think my options will be pretty open. The whole place needs a facelift, that’s for certain.”
Dillsboro Town Clerk Debbie Coffey said Ellsworth was “very enthusiastic about wanting to fix things up… we’re very excited at the potential of getting it refurbished and reconditioned and returning to being the gem that’s always been part of the town.”
Coffey is also excited about the pace of the bridge project.
“DOT has told me they plan to have traffic on it by the end of March, and be completely finished by the end of July. That would be the most wonderful outcome for this bridge,” Coffey said. “Initially this was a four-year project. The first shovel of dirt was turned last July, so that’d be a one-year turnaround.”
The project isn’t just the bridge itself.
“It’s a great connector,” Coffey said, “and has a nice sidewalk with streetlights. Pedestrian traffic will be so much safer. It provides a much better, safer way to walk back and forth to Monteith Park. It will be a great addition when we start having festivals again.”
In short, the sun appears ready to burst through in Dillsboro, and the future holds promise.
Keep it up, 2021.