Built in 1914 as a school, the current building replaced an earlier school building that was constructed in 1887, after the original one burned. (The name Snow Hill was derived from Snow Hill Church, located across the road from this structure and so named because it was snowing the day the church was completed in 1876.)
This imposing two-story frame structure with pyramid-shaped roof was built on a hilltop that still overlooks the Cowee Valley. Large 12/12 sash windows punctuate the building's four sides. A one-story porch, which was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1933, has tapered posts on square bases. A kitchen was added in 1930. A center hall bisected the first floor and divided it into only two large rooms. Later, several rooms were added when the Welch family bought it and lived here (before it became an inn). A pair of quarter landing staircases flanked the front of the center hall and lead to the second floor. The staircase on the right side of the hall was later removed. The second floor was an auditorium used by the school and community for social activities, plays, and musicals.
The stage was used for school programs and a toy orchestra band. Many box suppers were held here, as were meetings of the Junior (Masonic) Lodge. In the early 1930s lunch was served to the students from the second floor. Many original tongue and groove walls and ceilings remain throughout the building. Flues for wood stoves, used for heat, are still visible today.The school contained grades 1-12 for only a few years, becoming a primer school (kindergarten through grade 7 only) in later years.
The current building served the community as Cowee School, grades 1 through 7, until 1943 when it was closed due to the consolidation of Liberty, Harmony, Oak Grove, and Cowee schools. During a 1991 renovation, a first floor dining room and a back deck were added, and the building first opened as an inn. Later a living room was added to the back side of the building, along with a larger back deck.
Located in front of the Inn is an unusual ivy-covered, tower-like structure, approximately 18 feet high, and made of stone. It contains an arched single window on the second story and an arched cement crown. It served as a bell-tower for the school as well as a spring house. Former students fondly remember drinking cool water from pipes above the trough in the floor of the structure and also storing their lunch pails here. A new bell was hung in 2011.
Today, Snow Hill owners Phil and Sharon Drake welcome you to this historic inn, and are proud of the National Register of Historic Places designation for Cowee-West's Mill Historic District in Macon County, NC.