The summer of 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of an incredible event in the history of Lake Toxaway: socialite Lucy Camp Armstrong lived in a tent for an entire summer in order to build a home that today is The Greystone Inn.
Lucy and her husband, George Armstrong, a prominent Savannah businessman, had vacationed in Lake Toxaway for several summers, staying at the well-known Toxaway Inn alongside the Rockefellers, Fords, Firestones, and others. As the story goes, Lucy had become so enamored with the area that she asked her husband to build a vacation home on the shores of Lake Toxaway. In what is assumed to be an effort to deter her, he suggested that she select an ideal spot and camp out all summer before making a final decision.
In the summer of 1913, Lucy chose a rocky knoll on a short peninsula on the western shoreline of Lake Toxaway for her home site, and proceeded to “camp” in true style. She started by having a hardwood floor built, then covered it with a 2,000 square foot tent, and completed her camp by setting up a smaller tent next door to house her favorite 11 servants.
True to his word, George built a lake home on that very spot, which was completed in 1915. Lucy herself laid out the original structure, with board and batten siding stained grey with white trim and details similar to Swiss chalets she had seen on her trips to Europe. The 40-acre estate would include stables, tennis courts, and a swimming pool, as well as orchards and a vegetable garden.
However, Lucy’s beautiful view of the lake did not last long. Just one year after her home was finished, torrential rains caused the Lake Toxaway dam to burst, which emptied the lake and ended the steady stream of vacationers. The Toxaway Inn closed its doors at the end of the season, never to reopen.
Undeterred, Lucy continued to visit her mountain home, and after her husband’s death in 1924, made Lake Toxaway her permanent residence. Ever the hostess, she loved entertaining visitors and expanded the home over the years to include a larger dining room and sunroom, a kitchen wing with upstairs bedrooms, and a freestanding library with a downstairs cooking and canning room completed in 1932.
After Reg Heinitsh Sr., rebuilt the dam and restored the lake in the 1960s, Lucy sold the mansion to him to become the original country club and moved to a smaller home across the lake where she would live until her death in 1970.
When a new clubhouse was built in the early 1980s, Reg Heinitsh, Jr. and Tim Lovelace formed a partnership to convert the home into The Greystone Inn. The 17 guest rooms of the mansion are uniquely appointed with antiques and period reproductions; the inn also has 14 more modern rooms in the adjacent Hillmont and Lakeside buildings. In addition to the same serene setting that attracted Lucy a century ago, guests of The Greystone Inn enjoy gracious service, incredible dining, and a full array of resort amenities on the lake and through the neighboring Lake Toxaway Country Club.
Fifteen years ago the inn added a beautiful 26-passenger mahogany launch that takes guests out each afternoon for champagne and stories. She is appropriately named the Miss Lucy. General Manager Clark Lovelace captains most of these cruises and notes Lucy’s importance to the inn: “I love the story about Lucy camping out for the summer and share it frequently with our guests. We consider ourselves lucky to have had her play such a prominent role in Lake Toxaway’s history. In the end, if it wasn’t for her, there would be no Greystone Inn.”
For more information on the inn, call (800) 824-5766 or visit www.greystoneinn.com.