New Nelson B&B mixes medieval and modern

NELSON COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- From the road, the Fenton Inn may not look like more than a one-story building, but step inside and you'll find yourself in what owners Will and Lilia Fenton call Bavaria in the Blue Ridge.

"We traveled through Germany, and we wandered around some different towns," said Will, a restoration carpenter who said he admired the craftsmanship and design of medieval villages. "I told my wife, 'Oh yeah, I can do that."

And he did just that. On a three-acre site at the base of Wintergreen Resort, close to the breweries and wineries of Route 151 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, he cleared the land himself and milled the wood on site to use in construction. He drew the inn's design by hand, did the engineering work, and spent four years working full time to build the 10,000-square foot Fenton Inn bed and breakfast, one board at a time.

Gargoyles peer down from the rooftop. There's a drawbridge, and whimsical wood designs are everywhere inside and out, particularly on the doors, each of which Will made by hand. A dragon appears to reach through a door to an outdoor storage area. Other doors feature inlaid or carved leaves, butterflies, and other animals.

"I used different techniques," he said. "There's some in copper, different wood techniques that I've used. Some more traditional looking doors."

The inn has six rooms ranging from the Hummingbird room to the larger Swallow's Nest, which has views of the Blue Ridge even from shower. Room rates start at $199.

Lilia did the interior design and gardens outside. She said it wasn't just the medieval architecture that inspired the inn; it was the beauty of the German countryside they'd seen on their trip.

"When we came back to the United States, we realized Nelson County is just as beautiful as Germany," she said. "We decided people should experience Germany without going to Germany."

Will used historic tools for much of the work, but he also designed the inn to be energy efficient and equipped with modern amenities.

In addition to a bakery, movie theater, and fitness room, there's a banquet space for receptions or retreats. There's even a dedicated space for couple's massages.

Will said the Inn is something he's envisioned for years, and he's pleased with how it's turned out.

"I wanted to make this place look like it had been here for 200 years, on the outside," he said. "Inside, I wanted to have it as technologically advanced as we could do."

While the Inn has been up and running since August, Will is still working on another building, a cottage that will be pet friendly.

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