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Ownership shifts for well-known North Augusta historic home

Posted: October 10, 2017 - 11:58pm
Lookaway Inn was built as a private home in the 1890s by one of North Augusta’s founders, Walter Jackson.

One of North Augusta's best-known historic homes is under new majority ownership.

Lookaway Hall, a Beaux Arts-style mansion built in the 1890s by one of North Augusta's founders, sits on a hill near the fork in the road in the city's downtown where Carolina Avenue splits from Georgia Avenue.

In 1992, the National Park Service added Lookaway to the National Register of Historic Places. The building has not been sold. Now known as Lookaway Inn, it has been owned as a bed-and-breakfast by shareholders in a limited liability corporation formed in 2010 by Kelly and Diana Combs, who bought Lookaway and adjacent Rosemary Hall - now the Rosemary Inn Bed and Breakfast - in 2009.

By about the fourth year of the LLC's existence, one of the minority owners had acquired more shares than the Combses, Kelly Combs said Thursday. On Sept. 1, the Combses sold the balance of their remaining shares to that owner in what Combs described as "more of a transfer of interest."

Combs declined to name the man who now owns more than 90 percent of Lookaway Hall LLC, saying he first wanted to get the new majority owner's permission to disclose his identity. Two other shareholders are invested in the remainder of the LLC, Combs said.

Lookaway still will operate as a bed-and-breakfast, and the Combses still will own and operate Rosemary, where they also live. Combs said he sees no potential conflicts, since the two inns traditionally had been marketed differently to various clienteles.

Lookaway's new innkeeper, John Felak, began his duties in August. Previously, he was park director of the Gregg Park Civic Center in Graniteville. Before that, he was the program coordinator for North Augusta's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.

"We still love Lookaway, and I'm still handing the ball of to John," Combs said. "He's doing beautifully. We're the luckiest people in the world to have John."

Lookaway predates North Augusta's 1906 incorporation as a city.

Walter Jackson, who cofounded the city of North Augusta with his brother James, built Lookaway between 1895 and 1898 as his home. James built his home, Rosemary, nearby on the other side of Carolina Avenue in 1902.

After Walter's death in 1922, his son George inherited the property. He coined the name Lookaway, inspired by the home's commanding view of the city, and beyond that the Savannah River and Augusta's skyline.

George died in 1934, and in 1936 his widow sold the house to Dr. Henry Mealing. The Mealing family sold Lookaway in 1990 to the Atlanta-based development firm Consul Court, which renovated both Lookaway and Rosemary and re-opened them in 1992 as bed-and-breakfast inns.

Sandra Croy bought both inns in 2001. When she died in 2006, her daughter Natalie Smock took ownership and soon decided to sell them.

Evans real-estate investors Scott Woodhams and Don Morant were under contract to buy the inns in 2006, but in 2007 Larry and Rhonda Conner, of Roanoke, Va., bought them, and tried to sell them in March 2008. The inns closed the following summer when the homes went into pre-foreclosure with Georgia Bank and Trust.

The Combses successfully bid on the properties in September 2009.


Reach Joe Hotchkiss at (706) 823-3543 or joe.hotchkiss@augustachronicle.com.

 

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