Captain John Dillard settled in our beautiful valley in 1794 after being awarded a land grant of one thousand acres for his service in the American Revolution. Legend has it that to make peace with the local Cherokee Indians, a gift of a muzzleloading rifle, a jug of apple brandy, a coonskin cap and $3.00 was given for all the land between two mountain tops.
Carrie and Arthur Dillard founded the present Dillard House in 1917. It began simply enough when a circuit riding minister, Rev. Henry Byrd, became the Dillard's first guest in their modest mountain home. Carrie Dillard was a wonderful cook, a gifted gardener, a winning hostess, and a hardheaded business woman. She communicated her values and strong work ethic to her children and grandchildren by example. She cooked, tended her garden, put up jams and relishes, and looked after the business affairs of the Dillard House. Carrie's guests were part of an enlarged family. She treated them like family. By work and deed and example she taught her children and grandchildren that philosophy of hospitality. Since that time hundreds of thousands of guests have enjoyed the wonderful freshly prepared Southern style food at the Dillard House. Now in its eighty-seventh year, the Dillard House Inn and Restaurant have become justly famous for featuring the foods, tastes and hospitality that are the result of our two-hundred year heritage.
Over the years the original six-room boarding house has expanded to include 70 modern motel units and suites, over 25 cottages and chalets, a modern conference center and all the standard amenities. In the early days, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone stopped by on a trip to Asheville. Lady Bird Johnson paid us a visit. We've welcomed Walt Disney, President Jimmy Carter, Arnold Palmer, Senator Max Cleland, Mayor Maynard Jackson and Ambassador Andrew Young. The underlying theme of the management of the Dillard House continues to be to treat out guests as if they were an extended member of our family.
Southern cooking - true Southern cooking as we like to think it is experienced at the Dillard House - is some of the most honest cooking in the world. It relies on the freshness and true tastes of the foods themselves. It is simple, open and wholesome. For the rural Southerner and mountain people like the Dillards, cooking has always been a direct, obvious connection to the land. It's a daily testament to love of and respect for the land. Prepared with genuine affection, it is an expression of hospitality to friends and love of family.