The floor at 7905 Emery Gayle Lane still speaks to Eric Hoke.
He takes pride in the rich contrast of cherry and beech, arranged in a web of hexagons reminiscent of the parquet floor at Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Monticello. He also remembers how it, and the house he loves, was nearly taken away from him two years ago.
He had already lost 53 acres outside Apex and a recently finished $2.4 million house when the sheriff arrived with another foreclosure notice, this time for his own home, his “baby.”
He was still in the midst of a loan repayment plan, but the uncertainty was the last straw for his fiancée. She called up to her kids with instructions: Pack your bags. They were leaving.
“The banks, they turned their backs on us builders,” Hoke said. “They took us deep into debt, and then when the economy hit, they left us and there was nothing we could do at all.”
Today, Hoke, 53, is mostly alone at the house, save for the memories and the orchestra of frogs that treats visiting friends to sunset symphonies while keeping the creek outside virtually free of mosquitoes.
That could soon change, with Hoke’s latest business venture. He plans to turn his spacious home into the Hamilton Scot Inn, the first home the Cary Town Council approved as a “Bed and Breakfast” for residential use, a category that replaced “Guest House” for commercial use in December.
“For somebody looking to come to Cary to visit that might not want to stay in a traditional hotel, he’ll have something to offer,” said Councilman Don Frantz, whose only concern leading up to the unanimous vote was that Hoke did not request to be annexed. “I liked the use. To have a little boutique B and B on that side of Cary seemed a good fit for the property and layout. It’s his property, and he can do whatever he wants with it.”
As he walks along a wooden pathway, admiring the heron, dragonflies and beavers, Hoke is convinced that his guests will fall into the same peaceful serenity that removes him from the cares of the world.
“When people see my wetlands, they think of mosquitoes. We don’t have mosquitoes,” Hoke said. “The frogs and the ecosystem take care of it. I’m so happy [the Town Council] approved me. They basically approved 15 acres of wetlands to not be developed in the future.
“It’s so peaceful and so private that when you come here you’ll say, ‘Oh my god this is lovely.’ ”
He is adamant that the Hamilton Scot Inn is not a move of financial desperation to escape those cares. Instead, he said, it is an idea born from his days moonlighting as a waiter, manager and sommelier.
It has been on a low simmer ever since. What remains to be seen is whether there will be a demand for a bed and breakfast in the rural Green Level area of west Cary.
Hoke is convinced. Between anecdotes from neighbors and Cary’s swelling population, he could easily imagine the Hamilton Scot Inn hosting visiting grandparents who want to spend time with their grandchildren and retreat to his country home.
Recently a group of eight women liked the idea of a retreat and rented the home’s four bedrooms for a birthday party.
They stayed overnight in the antique beds that occupy most of the upstairs rooms, waking up to a private Pilates lesson and Hoke’s eggs Benedict.