Years of travel inspire Carpenters to create retreat near Laboratory Mill
A new bed and breakfast experience is taking flight in Lincoln County.
Known as the Peacock Hill Farm, the bed and breakfast is nestled on the hillside across from the Laboratory Mill. Over the past 18 years, owners Marni and Scott Carpenter have transformed their 1890 home and 12 acres of land into an eclectic retreat for travelers.
Both husband and wife have familial roots in the county. With the exception of his college years, Scott has spent his life in the county, while Marni spent the majority of her childhood in town. However, at the age of 17, Marni left home and pursued her passion for travel, exploring parts of Europe and England.
“I never expected to marry a hometown boy,” Marni said. “Lincolnton is a small town, and it was a really small town 40 years ago,” she said. “He says that it was love at first sight. He saw me during the homecoming at the high school. He came back for homecoming because he was the football captain when he went to Lincolnton High School. And he started asking me out. He was at Carolina, and I was not out of high school yet. I didn’t like him that first time around, so we had a gap of some years when I was home from the sailboat. I had been living in the Bahamas on it and ran into him and started dating him again and continued to date, even though I went to Europe and then to Rutgers for school.”
Over the course of their 33 years of marriage, the couple has explored six of the seven continents, with plans to travel to China in the fall. It was with this passion for travel and exploration that the Carpenters began to consider creating a local retreat.
Prior to purchasing their home on Laboratory Road, the Carpenter family resided in the heart of Lincolnton.
“We lived on Main Street in a big white house that sits back from the road, across from the library,” Carpenter said. “But, with four kids, we needed to be in the country.”
Through her friendship with Martha and Joe Rhyne, Carpenter learned of the historical home.
According to Carpenter, during the late 19th century, the Rhyne family purchased parcels of land before taking over the mill.
“The mill was already here, but there were lots of houses then, a lot of mill houses. The train used to stop here,” she said. “When it was a mill village, it was a lot more populated, and it had a whole lot more going on. This house was built around 1890, and that was right after Mr. Rhyne bought the majority of the shares in Laboratory Mill and bought up the stuff around here.”
After the elderly Rhyne couple decided to move to a more handicapped-accessible living community, Marni began inquiring about the home.
“When you stand on the front porch, you can see way down the river in the winter, and I didn’t know there was a house like this in Lincolnton,” she said. “It’s like living in the mountains, and except for the color of the river, it was like a mountain stream. So, when I knew that this house was going to be empty, we started inquiring about it.”
Since moving into the house in 1996, the Carpenter couple has worked together to renovate the home while maintaining its historical integrity.
“It was completely covered in green carpet,” Marni recalled. “Almost all of the walls were green as well as the linoleum in the kitchen. There was carpet even in the bathrooms…and all of the windows had blinds, sheers and heavy drapery. It was dark and dreary, but I knew it could be bright, light and nice.”
In addition to pulling up the carpeting and restoring the hardwood floors, the couple painted the walls white to brighten the house, adding color here and there over the years.
“Bit by bit, we’ve restored the house and then added some things that were complementary,” she said.
The bed and breakfast is comprised of three guest rooms, each with its own creative decorations.
“There’s lots of stuff from our travels; I didn’t go about it with a specific decorating theme in mind,” Marni said. “I love maps, globes, bones, shells, things like that.”
Two of the rooms offer either a full or double bed, with the last room offering two twin beds.
“We offer feather beds and down pillows and comforters, good linen, a fire in the fireplace all winter,” she said. “We always have classical music playing and tons of books, art and animals around.”
Inflatable mattresses are also available, if needed to accommodate additional guests.
As far as breakfast fare, the couple plans to offer guests a customized morning meal, complete with their preferred breakfast time. Specialties include pancakes, waffles, stone ground oatmeal, old-fashioned grits and the farm’s homegrown eggs. In the afternoons, guests can opt for a cocktail or cup of tea.
While the couple has yet to peg down pricing for overnight and weekend arrangements, they intend to offer seasonal rates, depending on wedding season.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the property is the diverse animal family the couple has adopted over the years.
“I’ve always loved animals,” Marni said. “Even when we lived in town, we had dogs, cats and a parrot. I had always wanted to have peacocks, which you couldn’t do in town. My husband was resistant have them, even out here, but we went on a trip to Ireland right before we came here. He saw that they go up into trees at night, so they’re relatively easy to keep. And almost immediately after we moved here, we got our first peacock.”
Today, several peacocks, all named after antidepressant medications, roam the side yard.
“I name them all antidepressant names — Prozac, Zoloft, Trazodone, Wellbutrin — and we have some new babies, so I’ve got to come up with more antidepressant names,” Marni laughed. “The head peacocks are always either named Prozac or Zoloft though. They’re just wonderful.”
In addition to the farm’s animal namesake, the Carpenters own three dogs, a handful of cats, a rescued blue jay, alpacas, emus, turkeys, chickens, a rooster, a miniature horse and two goats. In the past, the family has also owned Tennessee Walking Horses, geese and ducks.
“It’s a nice, old historic house,” Marni said. “You can see the river out the front and the back (of the house), and we’re right across from the venue. It’s old fashioned and calm…it’s the kind of place I look for when I’m traveling.”
Those interested in learning more about Peacock Hill Farm should visit www.thepeacockhillfarm.com.