A stately getaway: Magnolia Manor offers an elegant, relaxing vacation


Magnolia Manor

Traveling the byways and blue highways of North Carolina is a joy in and of itself. Upon seeing the historical homes, large pines and pastures, red barns, and clothes drying in the fresh air, one can’t help but wonder if these rural dwellers truly are living the American dream. Larry and Sheila Carver, proprietors of Warrenton’s Magnolia Manor Plantation Bed & Breakfast, located about an hour from Raleigh, just south of the Virginia border near Lake Gaston, are not only living that dream, but also are making dreams come true for others.

In 2003, after years of back-breaking restoration by the couple and their four children, the Carvers opened the doors to their manor house as a bed and breakfast. From the beginning, guests were enthralled by the stories of the historical manor, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as by pictures of the estate’s restoration.

Visitors marveled at the tastefully selected period antiques flanking the long hallway, or formal entrance, as well as the elegance of their guest rooms. They raved about the pristine vintage bed linens Sheila dries on the line and irons by hand, and bragged about indulging in her gourmet breakfasts, which often include French toast stuffed with her special filling and pecans harvested from the property’s many mature pecan trees.

Word spread quickly of the royal Southern hospitality offered at this beautifully restored estate. Guests returned with friends and family in tow, all wanting to share and expand their bed-and-breakfast experiences. Small groups from Raleigh and surrounding areas began booking the inn for weekend retreats, indulging in everything from baking holiday cookies to shopping for antiques to booking weddings.

Just a few years later, the Carvers indeed have carved out their niche, and special events are here to stay. Celebrations at Magnolia Manor range from formal English teas and traditional English fox hunts to made-to-order American bluegrass birthday parties and barbecues. Weddings have become popular as well, with couples tying the knot in the pecan grove, dancing and dining in the renovated carriage house, and filling Champagne glasses in the former silo, which has been turned into a bar.

Constance Lue of Oxford — known by many as the Southern Tea Lady — uses this elegant setting for students to take a tea test. Graduates become members of the Old North State Tea Society and continue their education at several Southern tea rooms, including Williamsburg’s Taste Tea Salon.

Shirley Bailey, quilt shop owner of Sew Original, closes her shops in Boone and Winston-Salem for a long weekend each year to treat employees to fine dining, walks around the grounds, and sewing; during their stay, the manor’s main hall is filled with sewing machines and fabric.

Whether it’s a formal occasion or weekend treat, Magnolia Manor has been chosen by many as a top destination. Take a trip and find out what’s in store at the old inn.