Pre-Civil War with Dogs! – Barkwells Pisgah Forest named Asheville Citizen-Times Home of the Week

We are very excited to share that Barkwells Pisgah Forest was named “Home of the Week” by the Asheville Citizen Times. If you have not seen the new property this is a great preview.



Ellen and Michael Winner pose on the bridge in the

The story of Ellen and Michael Winner is a story of Western North Carolina’s remarkable power of rejuvenation. After living 30 years in Florida, the couple came here in 2003 to reinvent themselves and the next year opened Barkwells, the “Dog Lovers’ Vacation Retreat,” with just one cabin on 9 acres in Mills River.

Now Barkwells has two locations, and the Winners have found their dream home on a six-acre plot in Pisgah Forest: an extensively renovated pre-Civil War house that’s both their home and the headquarters for Barkwells.

In Mills River, the Winners had lived across the road from Barkwells, as the resort grew to include eight cabins. Looking for a place to open a second resort, Ellen Winner says, “I spied a picture of this home and said, I have to see this right now.” A visit confirmed her initial instinct: “I said, I am totally living in this house. I love its character and its history.”


They moved in this past May, and Barkwells’ Pisgah Forest location is up and running, with two cottages so far and plans for more. Its six acres are fully fenced in, and there’s a private pond.

At the center of the property is the Winners’ home. It had been extensively renovated by previous owners, so it was a modern abode with old bones. “Judging by the massive logs underneath, it is very old,” Ellen says. The logs have been identified as chestnut, and the couple are now researching the house’s history, hoping to confirm its age and fill out its history.

They’ve had some help. “A week after we moved in, the doorbell rang and it was three sisters who had lived in the home and had moved out 50 years prior,” Ellen relates. “It was just delightful learning about the house from them.” Among the discoveries: hidden hearths attached to the massive stone chimney but long since covered up.

Ellen Winner’s own family history also bubbled up unexpectedly. Inspired to paint the ceiling of the kitchen a particular shade of light blue to complement the pale yellow walls, she didn’t realize she was reproducing a family color scheme.


Ellen’s sister, who lives in Hendersonville, came by after the paint project and reminded her that “my mother had a yellow and blue kitchen, which she decorated around the design of favorite plate,” Ellen says. Her sister still had the plate, which now hangs in the kitchen, not far from a beautiful quilt also provided by Ellen’s sister, a master quilter.

Other local artists are also represented in the home, including water colorist Jane Snyder and Sally Middleton, an Asheville artist whose work Ellen first saw in the Asheville Art Museum.

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