Founded by innkeeper 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. Deener managed day-to-day operations at the inn until 2018, when David and Annie Colquitt, who honeymooned at The Swag in 2011, purchased the inn.
Building The Swag
The Matthews bought the property in 1969, which was previously operated as a potato farm that was cleared for farming at the turn of the 20th century. In 1970, a dynamite crew and three bulldozers began work on a gradual road to the top of the property. The road gains over 1,000 feet in elevation in 2.5 miles. One hundred and fifty truckloads of gravel were used to surface the road.
Construction of The Swag began when historic log buildings were reassembled in 1971. 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.
What originally began as a second home for the Matthews family, The Swag first opened as an inn in 1982.
A Glorious Smoky Mountain Setting
The Swag rests along the Cataloochee Divide, an immense ridge that forms one of the Great Smoky Mountain 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.