This Queen Anne styled dwelling was originally the residence of Henry Fries Shaffner. Born on September 19, 1867 to well known Moravian parents, Mr. Shaffner stayed close to his roots. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, he returned home to run his father's pharmacy. Later, he was an officer in the Briggs-Shaffner Company which manufactured machines that cut tobacco for cigarettes. When the towns of Winston and Salem were joined, he became a member of the first board of aldermen. However, it was through founding Wachovia Loan and Trust Company with his uncle in 1893 that Mr. Shaffner earned his reputation as a prominent businessman.
Construction on the house began in 1907 and was completed in 1909. Designed by Northup and O'Brien, the residence had both the standard features of the time and innovations that were quite modern for the period. For example, each room had its own fireplace even though the house was equipped with central heating created by circulating hot water from a coal-fired furnace. The house was wired for electricity; however, each area also had gas fixtures.
The front entrance of the house was located at 403 High Street. The formal living room was to the left of the entrance hall and contained a set of screen doors bearing a patent for being the first to swing inward. To the right of the entrance was a parlor. The present day office was once Mr. Shaffner's library and study, and the current Bethabara room was the nursery for Mr. Shaffner's two sons and two daughters. What is now our sunroom was once an open porch. Lastly, there was the dining room. It is interesting to note the carved wooden mantel in this room. Affixed to it are silver plates with the dates "1776-1907" engraved upon them. This indicates that the columns to which the plates are attached came from a log cabin built in Salem to shelter workmen from Bethabara who had come to erect the first house there. The cabin collapsed in 1907, but several pieces of wood were salvaged, of which these columns are two.
The second floor originally had four large bedrooms, a large dressing and storage area, and two bathrooms. Over the kitchen was a separate bedroom and bath for a live-in nursemaid. Each of these rooms has been converted into a richly furnished guest room. The basement contained an extensive furnace room with large coal bins. In addition, there was substantial vegetable storage and a laundry room complete with sinks and coal stoves for water and iron heating. The Forsyth, Twin City, and Tanglewood suites are now located on this level. Finally, there was a full attic which has been converted into the Piedmont suite. Its double jacuzzi, wet bar, and sitting area contribute to the plushness of its 18th century Biedermeier style.
Originally, the central portion of the roof was flat, covered by tin, and was reached via a ladder and a trapdoor. The adjacent gabled areas were covered with cedar shingles. Around 1920, a nearby paper box company ignited in flames. There were burning cinders that drifted to the roof forcing Mr. Shaffner and his son to stand guard on the roof top using buckets of water to extinguish these cinders. This experience led to the replacement of the roof with copper shingles which are still in place today. The original lot was slightly larger than an acre. Beside the house was a tennis court and to the north along Marshall Street was a formal terraced flower garden. Along Spruce Street there was a large vegetable garden complete with a grape arbor, berry patches, and fig trees. Both of these gardens were regrettably destroyed when the I-40 expressway was built.
Mr. Shaffner died in 1941 and once all their children were married Mrs. Shaffner relocated to an apartment. Mrs. Shaffner maintained ownership; however, during World War II she offered rooms to medical students. After the war, her son Louis lived in the house with his wife for a brief period until 1948. At that time the house was turned into a clubhouse for an American Legion Post. Afterwards, the house passed through numerous hands as a boarding house and was eventually abandoned.
The house was condemned and stood empty until Betty and Henry Falls, Jr., purchased it in 1990. They began the extensive renovations and restorations needed to refurbish this Victorian mansion as a premier Bed and Breakfast establishment. Each room, with its own personality and décor, has been carefully planned, decorated, and then named for a particular part of Winston-Salem's rich history. It took nearly two years to achieve the grandeur that you see today and it was officially opened on September 1, 1992. Since then, it has appeared in various publications including Southern Living, hosted a myriad of conferences and galas, and has been a part of many wedding day dreams.