The Oaks Bed and Breakfast in Historic Saluda, North Carolina

This Classic Queen Ann Victorian, located in one of the oldest established villages in Western North Carolina, stands as a landmark work of art—a testament to the architecture and craftsmanship of the 1800′s. Today, this elegant lady graciously welcomes guests with arms open wide.

Generations that have grown-up in the mountains of Polk County can make reference to the “beautiful Victorian up the hill.” The original home was built on land purchased from the Pace Family ($116) in 1895 by physician E.B. Goelet as residence for himself and wife Julia.  The Oaks was sold to Wessie Roach-Lane in 1906 and a long tradition of receiving guests had begun. At that time, Saluda boasted nearly 40 lodges and retreats, welcoming visitors who arrived by rail, up the famous Saluda Grade, or horse drawn carriage to enjoy the infinite vistas, cool summer breezes and the healthy mountain air.  The Oaks Bed and Breakfast is now, more than ever, a historic and memorable part of your Blue Ridge experience.

From the moment The Oaks Bed and Breakfast comes into view, you’ll know this place is special.  The primary historic structure features four spacious guest rooms, all located on the second floor and each with a private bath.  The Carriage House offers two cottage suites designed to accommodate up to four travelers each, with maximum privacy and comfort.


Your favorite destination/inn in the Blue Ridge Mountains has been featured in this sweeping article by CBS Atlanta. While shooting in the area the crew stayed at The Oaks Bed and Breakfast and you can too!  Call 828.749.2000 for reservations. 


Relax. . .  Explore. . .  Enjoy. . .

Relax and sit awhile on one of three veranda and deck areas.  Visit the library and peruse the hundreds of publications—both contemporary and historic—that encompass this magnificent room.  In cooler weather, a robust fire welcome all who enter.  Luxuriate in the Parlor with its ornate fireplace mantle, elegant chandelier and French Doors that access the deck and a view of the gardens and the nature preserve. After discovering the extensive public areas of this beautiful Inn, explore Main Street and its bistros, shops and galleries.

Our expansive-covered veranda is the perfect place to sit and relax anytime of day.

Enjoy a sumptuous gourmet breakfast in our Dining Room seated beneath one of the most extraordinary Venetian glass chandeliers ever seen.  Weather permitting, breakfast may be served on the deck over looking the natural wooded area that borders this remarkable property.  Regular guests may include: Carolina wrens, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal and Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.

Many of North Carolina’s most popular attractions and points-of-interest – including Biltmore House, The Carl Sandburg HomeFlat Rock PlayhouseChimney RockLake Lure, the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway – are all within an easy drive from the Inn.


“You [Dale and Donna] created an idealized vision of 18th Century holiday life that is homey yet elegant and with a congenial environment that is welcoming, relaxing, cheerful, delightful, . .  Your personal touches created a magical ambiance for our family that brought us together from Florida, Wisconsin, Raleigh and Wilmington, NC. “   (Guest Review, November 2013) _______________________________________________________                       

Remember these important dates:

•  Coon Dog Day, July 7th

• Minor League Baseball, Asheville Tourists and Greenville Drive, April-September

 The Annual Bele Chere Celebration, Asheville, July

• Annual Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad & Race to the Rock, Lake Lure, August

• North Carolina Apple Festival, Hendersonville September, Labor Day weekend

 Fall Leaf Season, September, November

• The Flat Rock Music Festival, Flat Rock, September

 Moogfest, Asheville, October 26 – 27• Biltmore Candlelight Christmas, Biltmore Estate, December

 Christmas at Connemara, Carl Sandburg  National Historic Site, December

 Home Town Christmasb and Parade , Saluda, December 13&14

• A Victorian Christmas , The Oaks Bed and Breakfast,Thanksgiving through New Years                        


Member Saluda Business Association


FROG Jam and the Art of the Two Finger Wave

Spring 2012

FROG Jam and the Art of the Two Finger Wave

F.R.O.G. Jam

F.R.O.G. Jam

As Saluda sits atop one of the first peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the abundant beauty and remarkable mountain vistas make it a memorable place to visit.  But for those fortunate individuals that call this place home, Saluda has a few characteristics that make them unique.

On my first visit to the Atkins Orchards gift shop, out by the interstate, I was introduced to their line of amazing fruited jellies, jams, ciders, along with pickled green beans, okra and chutney.  There were the recognizable spreads that we knew from childhood: apple, grape, blue berry and cherry.   Then there the ones that were not familiar to me.

Items labeled as Mayhaw and Muscadine Jelly seem to stand out on the shelves.  But the one that caught my eye was FROG Jam.  (A name that conjures images of the little amphibians, outfitted with tiny guitars and drums, playing improvised music . . .  that is to say, jamming.)

Turns out that F.R.O.G Jam is as much an acronym as it is a tasty breakfast treat.  The name spelled out is: fig, raspberry, orange and ginger.  The color is an inviting red (not green), with the seeds of the raspberries running throughout.  The taste is as stimulating as that first cup of coffee.  F.R.O.G. Jam has become a staple at our breakfast table here at The Oaks Bed and Breakfast and generously spread upon many a hot buttered biscuit.  Our guests will tell you, “There’s nothing like the F.R.O.G.!”

The Art of the Two Finger Wave

The Two Finger Wave.

The Two Finger Wave.

For over one hundred years, Saluda has been known as a haven for coastal dwellers escaping the summer heat.  And as abundant as the cool-comfortable nights, are the friendly folk you will find welcome you to town.

Over the past five years, as the owners of The Oaks Bed and Breakfast, we have become familiar faces to many of the “locals”, as they have become familiar to us.    Maybe they recognize us for Donna’s red hair, or my colorful SUV, but the smiles are everywhere on Main Street, the Saluda Center and the post office.  Often times we will be acknowledged with a gesture unique to southern culture and one that we have come to embrace – the Two Finger Wave.

Turns out the Two Finger Wave is a cross between a wave and a salute.  I am talking about an act performed while approaching an oncoming vehicle. The speed limit on most Saluda streets is 20 to 25-mph, giving the drivers of each vehicle time to recognize the other.  Without lifting the hand from the steering wheel, the middle and index fingers are extended, palm side outward, while the ring and little fingers remain bent, loosely gripping the wheel.  The two fingers remain touching each other, as not to be confused with the “Peace Sign” from the ‘60s.

The origin of the Two Finger Wave is not documented.  It is, however, an effective way for busy people to say “Hello” while not jeopardizing control of their truck or tractor on a winding mountain road or city street.

I see the Two Finger Wave as sort of a mountain “high five” and while it may not be recognized on the streets of New York City, it is a wonderful reminder that we are home.  ~ Dale Potruski


Geraniums on the Veranda







The Art of Breakfast

An Oaks favorite, Banana/Cream Cheese French  Toast w/apple wood cured bacon.

The Art of Breakfast

by Dale Potruski
Summer 2012
From my first experience helping prepare Sunday breakfast with my Dad, to the craft of fine dining that I learned from working at some of Michigan, Florida and North Carolina’s best restaurants, I realized  that dining is an art.  Food preparation is very gratifying and extremely satisfying when it comes to our guests.  Every feast includes fresh fruit (local and seasonal), a breakfast meat (apple wood cured bacon, fresh ground country sausage or lean ham) and an entrée that is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the pallet. 
Breakfast at The Oaks is an event and friends that stay with us for up to a week, will never be greeted by the same plate more than once.“I challenge myself to come up with a new and different menu every day,” explains Dale, the owner and chef of The Oaks Bed and Breakfast.  “I try to alternate meals between sweet one day and savory the next – something square, something round.   A great deal of thought and preparation goes into every presentation.”
“Accommodating guests with special dietary requirements or food allergies is never a problem”.  Dale promises, “With advance notice we can put a smile on everybody’s face!”

Table set for breakfast.


Happy Group Enjoys Breakfast.

What Makes Saluda One of America’s “Playful Cities”?

What Makes Saluda a “Playful City”?

Playful City USA Honoree.

Playful City USA Honoree.

What does it mean to be one of America’s most “Playful Cities”?

The non-profit organization, KaBoom!, has honored Saluda (for the second year) for its efforts in creating an environment that – quite simply – promotes outdoor activity!

With schools releasing their students for summer vacation, there no doubt will be the temptation for many to remain sedentary in front of the TV or computer.

The American Academy of Pediatrics had written that outdoor play is critical to healthy brain development, stimulating creativity and imagination, while building physical and cognitive strength.

It is inspiring to pass any of the parks within walking distance of The Oaks Bed and Breakfast and witness the interaction between kids and their parents as they play catch in the schoolyard or practice their serve on the tennis courts. Such a simple act as a walk with Granddad on a quiet lane or trail opens conversational possibilities creating a bond that lasts forever.

The emotional connection between a husband and his wife as he pushes her gently on a swing under a brilliant summer sky. Their children have grown, but for one shining moment, they are young again.

How wonderful it is to have all this and to share it with others.

Now is the time to visit one of America’s Most Playful Cities and reconnect with your children, your inner child . . . your husband, your wife . . . your life. Contact The Oaks Bed and Breakfast for reservations:
828-749-2000 — or visit us on facebook.



Geraniums on the VerandaDetroit Lion Will Heller Visits the Oaks



Top Ten Reasons to Stay at The Oaks


#10. To experience staying in a 116-year old Queen Ann Victorian, located in one of the oldest established villages in the Blue Ridge.
#9. Easy access to all the area’s entertainment and attractions, including; theater, live music, waterfalls, hiking, cycling, tubing/kayaking, art classes, festivals, restaurants, shops, boutiques and golf.
#8. Delectable gourmet breakfasts served each morning.
#7. Cool evenings on the verandas.
#6. Personal, courteous and knowledgeable hosts.
#5. Hand pressed and starched sheets, pillow cases and napkins.
#4. Fresh flowers in every room.
#3. Lavender bubble bath.
#2. Those cute little soaps wrapped in paper.
#1. And the NUMBER ONE reason to visit The Oaks Bed and Breakfast this summer. . . CROQUET anyone?


Landscape improvements proceed-Spring 2011.

My wife, Donna, and I took over The Oaks Bed and Breakfast in the summer of 2007. Every year since, we have focused on an annual project to keep the inn shiny as a new diamond!

That first winter it was decided that we would reestablish the original foundation to insure that the structure would remain stable and stand proud for another 100-years. Jacks were used to raise the house ever-so-carefully, allowing the contractors to pour concrete footers, install new pillars and build additional floor joist for added support.

We shared a fantasy that the crew that labored beneath the house would surprise us by unearthing a crest of “Civil War gold” or some relic of untold wealth.  Truth be told, the workers did find an antique tea spoon, an old medicine bottle, a frontier ladle and a croquet set. It wasn’t exactly what we had hoped for, but it was a connection to our home’s past and a treasure none the less.

It was then we decided that one day, we would have a gorgeous tournament quality lawn on which guests, dressed in summer white and straw-hats, would play the regal game of croquet.

After much effort and expense, we are proud to say, the time has come! With the beautiful woodlands and landscaping as a backdrop, we invite you to come and experience the “Queen of Games”  –  Croquet at The Oaks Bed and Breakfast!


The granite peaks the surround our home.

Granite cliffs of the Hickory Nut Gorge.

   The Mountains are calling.

The Oaks… Where Breakfast is an Event

We’re up before dawn and already the house is filled with the inviting aroma of fresh brewed coffee and savory apple wood bacon.  Much of our preparations is done the night before — forming crusts into quiche, marinating thick slabs of challah bread and peeling apples.
Breakfast at our table is a celebration…  a way to welcome a new day in the mountains with all its promise of beauty and adventure.  Robust coffee, lively conversation, a radiant fire and a sumptuous gourmet breakfast is served in a room filled with laughter.  Does anybody remember laughter?

Sunday morning was always special as a kid growing up in our house.  Having worked long hours at GM through the week, my Dad would round-up us kids and hustle us into the kitchen, leaving our Mom to sleep-in — something she rarely did.  There we would participate in an event called breakfast!
Dad would delegate the responsibilities, with my youngest brother, Brian, in charge of “toast”, my next youngest brother, Alan, was the “chopper” and, as the eldest, I would work the stove.  Baby sister, Lori, would stay safe in my father’s arms.  Like a scene from the Wizard of Oz, bread was buttered, potatoes got diced and eggs and sausages were cooked in the pan.
Alternately, some Sundays would be oat meal and others pancakes.  Sure there was the occasional cut finger or burned hand, but what we had in abundance was a kitchen filled with laughter.  My Mom would rise and would wonder what had happened to her kitchen.
Before the clean-up commenced, we would come together as family over a breakfast so fine.  The laughter continued as we got ready for church — shoes polished to a high gloss shine and cowlicks plastered down with something called “Wave-set”.

This morning, it’s Donna and I in the kitchen and a house filled with splendid guests, who will soon gather for a delightful meal.  They will talk about where they’re from and where they are going and most importantly… there will be laughter.

The year was 1895

Saluda, NC – The Oaks, a beautiful Queen Ann Victorian,"Welcome"

is built as the residence of Dr. E.B. Goelet, one of the first practicing Physicians in the Blue Ridge.  In modern times this lovingly restored home welcomes travelers year round as The Oaks Bed and Breakfast.

Asheville, NC – The Biltmore, a spacious French Chateaux, is built as the residence of G.W. Vanderbilt and is recognized as the largest home in America

New York, NY – Thomas Edison opens his first Kinetoscope parlor where New Yorkers can enjoy a film for 25-cents.

The White House – President Grover Cleveland delivers his State of the Union address targeting immigration and national finances

Washington DC – The United States Supreme Court declared income tax to be unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co.

Latrobe, PA – John Brallier is paid $10 to play football making him the first professional football player.

Rochester, NY – George B. Selden is granted the first U.S. patent for a combustion-powered automobile.

In this fast paced, ever changing world, it is nice to know that there is still a place where things have pretty much remained the same for more than 100-years.  Visit Historic Saluda and The Oaks Bed and Breakfast – Call 828-749-2000 for reservations.

Looking Back at Christmas ’09

The holiday season has come and gone and with its passing, new memories are honed.  The year of 2009 will no doubt be historically looked upon as the year that financial difficulties affected us all.  But Christmas ‘09 will forever hold special memories of the wonderful guests that have become like family.

Donna and I stay close to the inn and welcome all holiday travelers, whether their highway leads through Saluda, or if they have chosen The Oaks as their destination, we welcome all.  It seems that many modern families have dispersed around the country and people are looking to fill the void and a relaxing visit to a quiet mountain town is a reflection of less complicated times.

Thanks to family members who had made the journey to help, The Oaks had been decked out for the holidays with garland and wreaths at every archway and entry; antique nutcrackers danced with the candles on the mantles; the Snow Village collection was warmly illuminated by the fire that burned brightly in the parlor; and the crowning glory of the perfect tree that adorned the library and reached nearly to the very pinnacle of our 10-foot ceilings.

Only one week before, the snow had fallen and created a winter wonderland found only in a Christmas card.  A few guests shot down the icy hill at the school yard on swatches of cardboard I had cut from boxes I found in the basement, while others ventured out to view the countryside and waterfalls in their frozen state.  One gentleman (Dave) graciously shoveled the sidewalk out front – claimed that he needed the workout.  Who was I to argue?

It was wonderful to have these special people find their way to our door and create holiday memories that will live with us forever.  I have always said, “You are a stranger here but once”.  And to these precious friends, and all that the New Year will bring, all the best . . .  We look forward to hosting your visit to The Oaks Bed and Breakfast!

Independence Day Weather Report

People often ask me, “How are summers in Saluda?” I can answer in a word, mild. I have come to know July as having comfortable overnight temperatures, perfect for restful-healthy sleep. We have yet to need the air conditioning. Recent guests from Florida pulled their blankets from the closet to insure a cozy slumber.

The days are warm and rarely humid. Daytime temperatures linger in the 80s. We have gotten some rain this season – unlike previous years, where we have spent the majority of our summer months, like most of the country, under burn bans and water restriction. When the rain comes, it is usually gentle and when it falls overnight, it contributes a sedative-like effect. Before the raindrops make it to the ground, I have learned recognize the familiar percussive clatter as they play upon the leaves of the giant trees that surround us.

This past Independence Day will stay in my memories forever. We expected a moderate crowd at the inn – a mix of old friends and new. After enjoying a lavish breakfast, some guests headed down to Main Street, while others relaxed on the veranda.

An impromptu cookout materialized late in the afternoon and while the burgers sizzled, guests gathered to enjoy the perfect summer day. The highlight of any Independence Day celebration would be the fireworks. Many of us have witnessed massive fireworks displays in major metropolitan areas. Some, where mirrored skyscrapers reflect the flash of the rocket’s red glare and the explosions resonate through the buildings. Some with symphonies and operatic accompaniment.

Here in Saluda, the event is planed and executed by the local firefighters. Just before sunset, guests gather as Donna passed out the comforters and blankets. We join the procession of vehicles that make their way up Greenville Street to Orchard Lake and find our place on the grassy hill by the lake.

Family and friends laugh n’ chat as children tumble like gymnasts. Fireflies and sparklers interrupt the darkness competing for attention.

The event begins with a brief invocation, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment to remember and recognize those serving in the military.

From one end of the lake, torches ignite and fireworks take flight. It is relaxing and beautiful. The pops echo off the surrounding pine draped mountains as dazzling colors fill the nighttime sky. Our guests offer nothing but complements and praise calling event “impressive”.

The Saluda Firefighters serve up a superb slice of Americana every Fourth of July. They spend their time and money so that we may celebrate the nation’s birthday and honor our Armed Forces. For this we say a special “Thanks” to Shane Bradley, Daryl Russell, Zak Pace and all the dedicated personal of the Saluda Fire Department.

Lost Treasure

Over the years, I have been fortunate to call many fascinating places home. In all these places, I have encountered knowledgeable and intelligent people, the finest of which I call friends.

Before we became residents of Saluda by taking over The Oaks Bed and Breakfast, my wife and I would stroll Main Street and visit its shops and restaurants. It was here we heard the stories and developed an appreciation for the people who told them. We learned where the train depot was originally situated before it was moved to where it sits today and how the locomotives chugged through town on their way down the Saluda Grade.

Walk past the cafés and the shops and you find yourself at the “heart” of Main Street, the veritable “Center of the Universe” here in Saluda. A large diagonal crack runs through the thick pane of glass, yet does not disturb the hand lettering on the window, which proclaims this particular business as “M. A. Pace General Merchandise”. Push open the door and enter a world of curiosities, history and camaraderie. Ceiling to floor shelves heaving with memorabilia and collectables all belonging to the man behind the counter, Robert Pace – a robust man for his years, bright, alert and talkative.

This place is what a General Store is supposed to be, before others calling themselves “General Stores” began selling hemp fabric garments and Life is Good T-shirts. This is where local folk find all of life’s daily needs; a barrel bolt and hasp; cake mix or tub caulk; Vienna Sausages or a garden rake; fishing tackle to a Moon Pie; locally made jams and jelly or PVC pipe — Robert has it all!

Robert grew up in this unique place, a place where every picture and magazine has a special place and story. He remembers when Main Street was home to a bowling alley, a tearoom and a movie theatre and celebrities like Perry Como shopped his store.

He is a living-breathing history lesson and a treasure, as is his store. No visit to Saluda is complete without a trip to our Main Street. And no trip to Main Street is complete without a visit with Robert at M.A. Pace General Store.