"This Old WV House"
The story begins in the summer of 2002, when Dan & Elisse found the building that they made into their home and the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre. Dan & Elisse worked for FEMA, and Dan was Logistics for the FEMA Disaster Recovery Operation following the flooding of southern WV in May 2002. Driving for months through McDowell County, Dan often passed the historic "Coal Heritage Trail" building & the copy of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre across the creek. Boarded-up, twice flooded, abandoned, & vandalized, the Inn building was a mud & mold-filled shell. The back deck & bridge had been destroyed, and the doors had been stolen along with just about everything else- only 6 claw-foot bathtubs, & a few toilets & sinks remained intact.
The darling little Theatre on the hill across the creek had been abandoned, vandalized, & water-loggged, too, & the property used as a dumping ground for everything from tires to broken appliances. But Dan & Elisse looked at it all & saw what it Could be: An elegant Inn with lovely rooms filled with art, period and antique furnishings, and vintage quilts... a patio with cafe tables for train & bird-watching... guests sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine as the mist covered the mountains at twilight & the "Pokey" railroad goes by... a lovely gift shop filled with unique West Virginia art & crafts... an elegant dining room for dinner parties & weddings... perhaps even a small museum to showcase the history of the area... and their home. Dan believed he could save the building (which was slated for demolition), and Elisse believed in Dan! They bought the property and moved to McDowell County in 2002, to help the area recover from the economic devastation of the floods by opening an inn which would provide lodging and fine dining. They named their new home for Elkhorn Creek, which runs between the Inn & Theatre.
There'd been 4 feet of standing water & mud in the Inn, & there was 5 feet of mud still in the basement... So in the middle of an ice-storm, Dan shoveled out the mud, gutted the entire first floor, power-washed it with bleach 3 times & dried it out, & they moved into their new home in Jan. 2003. Then Dan rewired, replumbed, & rebuilt it, from the roof to the floors (pink marble), walls (240 sheets of drywall!), new doors & woodwork & ceilings (Dan's plaster "crowsfeet" & crown moldings), etc., etc., etc.! They added the art collection from Elisse's NYC gallery, antiques, textiles, and vintage 1920s and 1930s furnishings, cleared away the garbage, weed-whacked & planted roses and tulips, sunflowers, & veggies, installed new "antique" lamp posts, & opened their new home as the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre in May 2003. Dan is US Army Retired, with decades of military and corporate management experience, civilian & government service. Elisse, a veteran (Sgt.) of the IDF & an Official Artist for the US Coast Guard, has decades of experience in international business management, marketing & promotions, and government service. They believe in the power of Sweat Equity, and are proud to be "West Virginians By Choice"!
Dan & Elisse believe in the sheer power of Sweat Equity!
There's always LOTS to do to keep an historic building alive, & Boy, could we use some help! :-) So if you'd like to be a part of helping preserve America's heritage, call us at 1-800-708-2040 & c'mon down!
Before: The boarded-up, flooded building in Oct. 2002 when Dan & Elisse purchased it.
After: The Elkhorn Inn's Dining Room, featured on HGTV "Building Character"
2008 Coal Heritage Achievement Award for Historic Preservation, from America's By Ways: Daniel H. Clark