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Family puts new life into 1913 Badin Inn

By Jo Grey, for the SNAP

The 1913 Badin Inn has new owners. No one is more surprised than Vanessa Mullinix, who worked to find a buyer for The Badin Inn.

“I loved it, but never thought I would be the one,” she said.

Concerned that none of the prospective buyers appreciated its historical significance, Vanessa Mullinix invited her daughter, Jennifer Owens, to partner with her in this new venture.

“I am so proud of this French-designed town — its unique quadraplexes and curvilinear streets, the way education, sports and the arts were brought in from the beginning.”

A visible transformation is underway. For months, an invasive weed known as dogfennel — a giant green intruder tall enough to conceal wildlife and school-age children — obscured the former fairways of the golf course adjacent to the inn.

Now, thanks to Owens’s father-in-law, the hated weed lost in a match-up with the Rowan County farmer and his tractor bush-hog. Mullinix is quick to say, however, that the golf course will not return.

Mullinix and Owens hope to preserve the Badin Inn and connect with the town’s vision of a tourist destination.

From The 1913 Inn, guests can easily access Badin Lake, the town and Morrow Mountain State Park.

“Badin needs the Inn for our out-of-town guests,” Mayor Anne Harwood said. “It’s the only hotel in town.”

She also recognizes that town officials are emotionally invested in The Badin Inn because they are either lifetime residents or have been in town long enough to remember the happy days.

“Our zeal for Badin makes us glad the property is no longer in limbo,” Town Manager Jay Almond said. “We can put it back on the list of local businesses.”

Owens tells that when her mom called looking for an investor, she was already considering a career change.

“Party and event-planning was something I’d enjoyed doing for friends, but didn’t know how I’d ever get into it full time,” she said. “This is my opportunity. Plus, I love the history of this place. Walking in here, it was hard to see what it had become. The Inn was in poor condition and disrepair. It definitely needed some TLC.”

The women have been sorting through furnishings, clearing clutter and organizing catering supplies left behind. They have been pleased to reuse, repurpose and rearrange what they have found. The new breakfast room is the old golf pro shop.

“Mom’s a great teacher, so I’ve never been afraid of hard work,” Owens said.

They have cleaned and buffed the original pine floors in the ballroom, the commercial kitchen is being refitted for catering, newly-painted porch columns gleam and the stream of plumbers and electricians is slowing. A new awning is ordered, along with new signage. Porch carpeting will be installed this week.

Gauging from the text messages, calls and people dropping in, the work in progress is stirring memories and hearts.

On a recent afternoon, a couple walked through the front doors all-smiles and briefly recounted attending class reunions and other special events. The visitors were former Badin resident Joe Brooks II and his wife, Susie, now of Ft. Worth, Texas. They said they will return as guests after Christmas for more reminiscing.

Bryon Carter’s lawn maintenance duties triggered some childhood memories recently. Carter grew up on Maple Street.

“As a kid I played GI Joe in the spot where I was weed-eating today, and my buddies and I played football right down the hill,” Carter said.

Carter has experience with disc golf as a player and course installer, and Mullinix may consider bringing the sport to The Inn. She also wants the golf cart paths to be accessible to guests for walking.

“Lay down the laptops, experience the beauty of the countryside,” she said. “Rock on the porch and read.”

The breakfast room has the only television and overnight guest rates will include a continental breakfast, with snacks and beverages on hand around the clock. Room rates haven’t been finalized.

“I expect rates to be compatible with local lodging costs,” Mullinix said. “And high-speed internet will be available.”

The Inn can also be rented for weddings, receptions, business meetings, retreats and other special events.

The Inn’s first big event will be the Badin Jazz and Wine Concert Oct. 19. Jazz Revolution are the featured musicians for the evening.

Better Badin, Inc. raises funds for the betterment of the community and they have contracted with The Inn to host this event during the Ten Days of Uwharrie festival. Tickets are available online through Eventbrite.

Bringing The 1913 Inn back to life is what Mullinix calls a “labor of love.”

Every time she questioned the wisdom of the venture she had the thought, “Go ahead.” And go ahead is what she did.

“When all the pieces fall into place, it’s just meant to be.”