History of the Inn
History of the Heritage House (179 High Street)
The geography and history of the town are unique and rich beyond description. The geography and history of the Inn are likewise interesting. The building (179 High Street) was the residence at the “end of the town” when it was built in 1840 by the Robert Doran Family, who purchased the land from the Wager Family in 1839. How providential that the “Towns-end” Family should purchase this property almost 170 years later! Furthermore, the great-grandparents of local resident Lynn Vaughn resided in this house in the early 20th century. This was the William Oliver Towns Family! Mr. Towns was the publisher of the Harpers Ferry Times newspaper and a photographer. The Towns Studio and Publishing Establishment was across the street at 186 High Street. Ms. Vaughn provided to us photographs of the Towns Family residence, which we enlarged, framed and placed in the entry to the Inn.
History of the Towns Family at 179 High Street
William Oliver Towns was born on May 24, 1850 in Wardensville, Virginia (Hardy County), now West Virginia. As a young man, he moved to Mount Jackson, Virginia and married Clara Virginia Walters. They moved to Winchester, Virginia for eight years, then to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, then to Toms Brook, Virginia, and in 1900 to Harpers Ferry, where they resided with their family at 179 High Street. Their children were Clara May, Lillie Irene, William Garnett, and Earl Cleveland Towns. Mr. Towns had a photography studio and print shop in what is now the Secret Six Sundries/Tavern building across the street from the 179 High Street. He was the editor and publisher of the Harpers Ferry Times, a weekly newspaper in the early 1900’s. He was active in the Camp Hill Methodist Church as well as in the Prohibition Movement. He died on August 14, 1924 and is buried in the Harper Cemetery.
The Inn Today
In 1980, Donna Callar bought the property from her parents for whom it had been first a vacation residence and then a permanent residence. Ms. Callar added the commercial kitchen & established the Mountain House Café, which remained in operation until her death. The property was sold to Washington, DC residents, Jason & Ana Townsend in 2007 so that I (Jason’s mother) could establish the Inn. After a year of renovating, updating & decorating, we opened the lodging business & leased the Restaurant to the Fisher Family. We assumed ownership of the Restaurant in July 2011 & added the Shoppe & Coffee/Tea Parlor in 2012, and established the (Almost Heaven) Academy in 2014.
History of the Mountain House
The Mountain House served as a mixed private residence and retail establishment from 1840 through 2007, when I leased the second and third floors to provide four additional guest rooms for the Inn. The building was empty for almost two years after I moved out in November 2012. Upon purchasing the Mountain House in May 2014, I initiated a major renovation project that included adding bathrooms to each of the first floor rooms. These spacious rooms now provide a wonderfully unique lodging experience for guests. The second and third floors are rented as a private residence to the Inn’s staff.