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Arts & Culture, Virginia

19th-century building repurposed as full-service inn at Virginia state park

Crystal Graham
Inn at Foster Falls at New River Trail State Park
Image courtesy Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

A 19th-century building vacant for more than 50 years has been repurposed as a full-service inn located at the New River Trail State Park.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation held a ribbon cutting ceremony today for the new Inn at Foster Falls. The inn is the first of its kind within the Virginia State Parks system and features 10 rooms for overnight guests, banquet and meeting rooms, a catering kitchen and two-story porches.

“This historic building played an important role within the Village of Foster Falls for more than 70 years, and now, it has been given a new purpose as a part of the Virginia State Parks system,” said DCR Director Matt Wells. “The Inn at Foster Falls is where the past meets the present, and we hope guests enjoy its timeless charm, scenic location and proximity to the 57-mile New River Trail.”

DCR selected New River Retreat LLC to run the facility. The company opened the Inn at Foster Falls to the public in the spring of 2023.

A centerpiece of New River Trail State Parks, the Inn provides the park with overnight accommodations and other amenities that have been missing for guests since it was formed in 1986.

“We’re excited and appreciative that DCR worked to restore this iconic piece of history,” said Park Manager Sam Sweeney. “It’s taken a decade with a number of individuals and organizations working to see this transformation through its processes, but the end results are spectacular. Everyone is impressed with the beauty and charm.”

Interior and exterior renovations

For the exterior, the team used vintage photos to recreate the original roofline, which included a vented cupola and two styles of dormers, and the two-story porches, complete with wooden columns, decorative pierced brackets and ball finials.

The interior was a full-gut renovation, but a few of the original components were saved, including an original stair and a few walls of tongue-and-groove wainscoting on the first floor. For everything else, the team made sure the rooms had a 19th-century feel but with modern functionalities.

The bathrooms have period tilework designs, often combined with glass showers and other modern amenities.

Working fireplaces in the parlor and honeymoon suite look as they did in 1887 but run on gas, not coal.

Antique and reproduction furnishings allow for conveniences such as queen- and king-size beds, mini-fridges, microwaves and televisions.

Behind all these finishes are state-of-the-art electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems, according to DCR.

History of Inn at Foster Falls

Ten years in the making, DCR’s Planning and Recreation Resources Department started the multi-year process of saving it, a project that required specialized contractors because of its historic nature, in 2013.

  • The building opened in 1888 as the Foster Falls Hotel, and for the next 30 years, it also served as a post office, commissary, meeting hall and boarding house for the local mining industry and the Village of Foster Falls.
  • At the end of World War I, the building was sold and reopened as an industrial school where girls learned cooking, sewing and other domestic skills.
  • In 1938, it became the Children’s Home of Abingdon Presbytery, a co-ed orphanage with girls in the former hotel and boys in a separate brick house.
  • The children’s home moved to Wytheville in 1962, and decades later, DCR took ownership of the abandoned building as part of an acquisition that would become New River Trail State Park.

For more information about the Inn at Foster Falls, visit stayinnfosterfalls.com

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.