History & Settings
Founded as Smoky Mountain lodging by innkeeper and owner Deener Matthews in 1982, The Swag was originally built as a family home in 1971 by Deener and her husband, Dan, an Episcopal clergyman, who is Rector Emeritus of Trinity Church, Wall Street, in New York City. Today, Deener manages day-to-day operations at this western North Carolina mountaintop inn during the in-season from late April through November.
Construction of the inn began when historic log buildings were reassembled in 1971 on high meadowland cleared for farming at the turn of the 20th century. The largest building was the Lonesome Valley Primitive Baptist Church from Tennessee. It forms the main living room in the Swag House. The oldest incorporated structure dates to 1795. Most of the logs were hand hewn from huge tulip poplar trees, which are rare today. The two and one-half mile private drive leading to the inn climbs more than 1,000 feet.A Glorious Smoky Mountain Setting
The Swag Mountaintop Inn rests along the Cataloochee Divide, an immense ridge that forms one of the National Park’s boundaries. Four of North Carolina’s six highest mountain ranges are visible from the inn: the Great Smokies to the northwest, the Plott Balsams and Richland Balsams to the southwest, and the Black Mountains to the east. The Divide Trail, traveled by settlers for 200 years and by the Cherokee for many hundred more, passes just behind the inn.