The Carriage House Inn, circa 1872, is located amidst the charm of historic downtown Aiken. The Carriage House Inn doesn’t just reflect its surroundings – it helps define them. Locally owned and operated, the Carriage House Inn is southern hospitality at its best.
The Carriage House Inn property, circa 1872, was a family home, the Efron family home (see picture of Mr. Efron) and adjacent properties housed Efron Garage, which serviced cars, advertising “Oil Changed in 10 Minutes” (see picture), along with providing limousine and taxi services. The property had a life of its own in the late 1800’s as Efron guests and local community members passed through its doors, including Fred Astaire dancing for birthday parties at the home. In 1986, Anne S. Thomasson discovered the unloved property and purchased it. The property was close to uninhabitable (see picture) and no one wanted to take on the renovation of the lost gem. Yet, Anne was not discouraged as she had goals to restore it and convert it into her gift and antique store, Four Generations. Anne beautifully renovated the property, and successfully operated Four Generations until closing in 1994 due to her business interest changing. Over the next few years, the property was rented by a number of businesses including Disney for production headquarters for That Darn Cat movie. In 1999 Anne and her family transformed the property into a six guest room Inn, the Carriage House Inn, to share her and her family’s love of Aiken with guests and the community. Anne shared, “the transformation to become the Carriage House Inn took the restored historic property back to more of its original purpose”, as the upstairs of the now Main Inn was converted into six guest rooms with private bathrooms. The downstairs became a foyer, living room, dining room and other common spaces for guests. As Anne and her family began to share the Carriage House Inn and Aiken with everyone, she shared, “we saw the need for more accommodations in downtown Aiken”. Therefore, she continued to transform the property, converting her 10,000 sq.ft.
warehouse to five guest suites for the Carriage House Inn. Then a few years later, purchasing an adjacent property to transform it into the Carriage House Inn Laurens Guest House with five more guests rooms and suites. By 2003, the Carriage House Inn had 16 guest rooms and suites, in three restored historic buildings to accommodate guests. The Carriage House Inn continued to share the restored and transformed property with thousands of guests, sharing their love of Aiken and all our area has to offer. Then in 2014 Anne decided it was time to transform the Carriage House Inn again. For years Anne had a vision to construct a new addition at the Carriage House Inn and now it was time to make her vision a reality. Anne enlisted local architect
Mike Holland to turn her vision into a plan, then she hired HBC Construction to build her vision. Anne stated, “as so many know, turning a vision into reality is not an easy task”, yet, after almost two years of planning, demolition and construction, the Carriage House Inn Pendleton Guest House was complete in March 2016. The Carriage House Inn Pendleton Guest House is over 20,000 sq. ft. with 24 guest rooms and suites. The guest rooms and suites all open onto expansive porches, piazzas, wrapping the Charleston style building, allowing for guests to enjoy the Southern weather and view of Aiken. Also, atop the Carriage House Inn Pendleton Guest House is a roof top veranda that overlooks downtown Aiken and in the future will be space for large events. Along with a newly renovated and expanded courtyard that sits between the Carriage House Inn Main Inn and Pendleton guest house, which is for guests to enjoy and future events to be held. Also, as with all the guest rooms, suites and Carriage House Inn spaces, Anne personally decorated all in the new addition too. Each room and suite, she chose all the furniture and décor pieces, ensuring that Anne said, “the guests will feel at home” in the new guest house. The personal touch and attention to detail at the Carriage House Inn is not only found in the decorating, yet in all Anne, her family and the Carriage House Inn staff provide to their guests and visitors. As the Carriage House Inn Pendleton Guest House was in its final stages of completion in January 2016, Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth S. Smith returned as her General Manager. She previously managed the Carriage House Inn before, she jokes, she “retired” to manage a local non-profit organization, The First Tee of Aiken. Then, when she, as she shared, “came out of retirement to return to work my mother”, she joined The First Tee of Aiken Board of Directors. As Elizabeth shared, “now I get to do both the things I love…sharing my love for Aiken, working in my family business and diligently working to impact the lives of young people with The First Tee of Aiken as a board member”. Since Elizabeth’s return, her and her mother, have not only transformed the Carriage House Inn into the 37 guest room and suite boutique hotel it is today, yet they have transformed the Carriage House Inn as a whole. As Anne knew the look of the Carriage House Inn would change, as should the operations and that is where she looked to her daughter to join her to work as a team to create a the new Carriage House Inn.
Anne is proud of her transformation of the Carriage House Inn, as it is, she stated, “an amazing retreat for guests of Aiken” and it’s a visual reminder of the growth of her passion and vision over the past thirty years. The Carriage House Inn is not just a 37 room boutique hotel, it is a place that has helped define the family that owns and operates it and a place that helps define Aiken. As you walk through the front door at the Carriage House Inn you know you are in a place where this town’s story is told through the original hardwood floors, listen closely and you may hear the sound of Fred Astaire’s feet as he dances; through the original windows, envision the faces of the Efron children and family looking out, waving, as the townspeople came and went to have their automobiles serviced; through the stories of the visitors of the past and present as the Carriage House Inn continues to graciously welcome all through its doors to enjoy the simple Southern elegance of the new Carriage House Inn. The Carriage House Inn is southern hospitality at its best thanks to Anne Thomasson, her family and the Carriage House Inn staff.
Quote from Anne regarding her vision: "I know that Aiken is a unique community and my vision is for the Carriage House Inn to reflect our unique community. From the moment you are greeted by our Carriage House Inn Staff family I want you to feel the warmth of true Southern Hospitality. As you walk over the carefully restored original hardwood floors, I want you to feel the the history of those who walked before you. As you pass through the carefully preserved doors, I want you to know you are in a special place. When you open your door to your guest room or suite, I want you to understand that this room is just for you, the furnishings chosen with care, the room decorated with heart and the room taken care of with love. As you join us for breakfast I want guests to smell the wonderful breakfast prepared by loving hands and share a meal with other guests enjoying the Carriage House Inn and Aiken for their reasons. I want our guests to know that they are in a place of history, a place preserved and restored to give them a window into the past and then recently expanded to give them a door to the future. I want you to step out the Carriage House Inn front door and venture the streets of those that passed before you, I want to revel in the history and be in awe of the present as our fellow Aikenites pass you with a Southern hello on the streets. I want guests to enjoy all Aiken has to offer from restaurants to gift stores to pubs to green spaces to equestrian events to just every day here in Aiken. Then I want you to return to the Carriage House Inn and know that our family is here to share Aiken with you and we will be here to greet you with our warm Southern hello the next time you find your way to Aiken. My vision is for everyone who passes through our doors at the Carriage House Inn to know that it a true honor and blessing for our family to share Aiken through the Carriage House Inn."