Historic Verandas Bed and Breakfast suffers major damage from Florence

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From the outside, the historic 8,500-square foot, four-story Verandas Bed and Breakfast stands tall — looking every bit of inviting.

“The Benjamin Beery House was built in 1854 right before the Civil War, and when union soldiers came to town this is where they hung the surrender flag from the copula. This was the highest point in the historic district,” said innkeeper Chuck Pennington.

A historic gem with a long history of blemishes.

“The house has burned three different times in its history, it burned in 1992, we bought it as a burnt out shell in 1995, gutted it to the studded and reopened it in 1997,” said Pennington. 

Now the antebellum home is plagued with another large bruise, courtesy of Hurricane Florence.  

“I heard the crash, the booms, and at morning light, the shock was too surreal. I just couldn’t believe it. Then it is like, what do you do first,” he said.

Innkeeper Chuck Pennington showed us the center of southern hospitality in the home, the dining room, which is heavily damaged. 

“It’s just unreal to see it like this,” he said.

Many of the guests rooms are unrecognizable, a 10-foot by 6-foot brick chimney crashed in below to one of the rooms. Several of the usually pristine guest rooms also were inundated with water damage.

“If someone would have been in that room, they would have been killed,” said Pennington.

Outside the home, a 160-year-old tree was ripped from its roots and destroyed everything it its path.

‘”The main gas line is by the tree, TV is through here, telephone through here, back flow preventer. This tree was probably planted when the house was built,” he said.

As the storm clears, the rebuilding process begins as it has several times before for Pennington. 

“I’ve been doing it for 21 years. We have had over 25,000 guests stay with us. It would be hard not to continue to do it,” he said. “Quitting is not an option.”

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