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History of the Calhoun House Hotel...

The Historic Calhoun House was built sometime before 1925, possibly as early as 1904, as a boarding house and according to local legend, the boarders helped to construct the building.

It was operated by a number of owners until the Granville I. Calhoun family bought it.  Granville Calhoun and his children operated the place as a boarding house and hotel until 1967.  Mr. Calhoun lived to be 104.  He was a legendary mountain man renowned for his feats as a hunter, fisherman, and storyteller.  He lived in the Hazel Creek area of Swain County before purchasing the building and renaming it the Calhoun Hotel.  At Hazel Creek he had owned and operated a boarding house also.  Calhoun was written up in Horace Kephart's book Our Southern Highlanders, which was published first in 1913.  He was later quoted in Michael Frome's book, Strangers in High Places, the story of the Smoky Mountains, which was published in the early 1960's.

It is said by local people that Kephart was a regular visitor to the hotel before Calhoun bought it, and it may have been Kephart who told Calhoun of the building and urged him to buy it.

Granville Calhoun and the Calhoun Hotel figured prominently in the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Horace Kephart was one of the writers who wrote about and promoted the establishment of the park over a period of almost thirty years from about the turn of the century until his death.

The Calhoun Hotel was one of the places leaders in western North Carolina used for a meeting place when they were planning the establishment of an organization called Western North Carolina Associated Communities in the late 1940's and early 1950's.  The WNCAC led to the development of the Cherokee Historical Association which started the outdoor drama, Unto These Hills, the most successful outdoor drama in the United States.

The WNCAC and the Cherokee Historical Association started the Oconaluftee Indian Village on the Cherokee Indian Reservation which is a recreation of a two hundred year old Cherokee Indian Village.  WNCAC and the Cherokee Historical Association started the Qualla Craft Shop on the Cherokee Indian Reservation which markets authentic crafts made by the Cherokee craftspeople.  All three of these, the drama, the village, and the craft shop, contribute to the education and economy of the Cherokee people.

WHen the Fontana Dam was being planned and built, during the thirties and forties, some of the planning meetings were held at the Calhoun.  Later in the 1940's, when construction was underway, some of the leaders found lodging and food at the Calhoun.

According to local legend, in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, the Calhoun was the only public place in Swain County where white people, black people, and Cherokee Indian people worked together peacefully and profitably without problems or prejudice of any kind.