Historic Gorham House is now Guest House Raleigh

Two years ago, an old house in downtown Raleigh was slated for demolition, with a big development planned to go in its place. But with the help of a historical commission, a remote control, and long nights and weekends filled with blood, sweat, and tears, that old house got a second chance. Moved a few blocks down and transformed into a boutique hotel, Guest House Raleigh now offers visitors a unique experience, blending history with bright, minimalist rooms, a downtown view, and distinctive Raleigh accents.

Guest House is the project of local husband-and-wife team Matt Tomasulo and Nicole Alvarez, who wanted to give back to the city that brought them together and gave them a community. The eight-room home is Raleigh’s first boutique hotel, but as Alvarez puts it, “it’s not your grandma’s bed and breakfast.” With a big porch and charming exterior, the house fits right in on S. Bloodworth Street, which is largely residential, though it’s just a five-minute walk from downtown’s Moore Square and City Market.

As visitors enter, they first walk into the 1,218-square-foot historic home, which has been lovingly restored and furnished while retaining its original structure, wood floors (preserved for more than a century beneath carpet, linoleum, and layers of newspaper!), windows, now-exposed ceiling joists, and fireplace. The first floor is common space, and the entire second floor of the historic house is a two-room guest suite. The original back door now leads into the Guest House’s 2,775-square-foot modern addition, which Alvarez, an architect at Clearscapes, designed herself in collaboration with the firm. The place is flooded with natural light, and the clean white lines, ubiquitous green plants, and thoughtful decor make it soothing and welcoming, not to mention Instagram-ready. The first floor of the addition has three guest rooms and a large, open kitchen. The second floor has four more rooms, including another large suite with a balcony, double shower, and skyline view. A garden out back features outdoor furniture, an imposing 125-year-old pecan tree, and a patio made of bricks repurposed from a chimney that collapsed in the house’s move.

The Guest House opened its doors in September, and it’s clear that the hotel has been a labor of love for Tomasulo and Alvarez—love for the project, for each other, for Raleigh, and for the guests they get to share it with. “The idea of being hosts really excited us,” Tomasulo says. “We want to share Raleigh with people who aren’t from here.” Alvarez agrees. “We want to be able to give personal recommendations on how to have a unique experience when you come. It really is a guest house for Raleigh residents, whose guests are in good hands if they come and stay here.”

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(Walter Magazine, 10/1/18)