Step into Virginia’s Past at Our Historic Bed and Breakfast

George Collins originally built the house (in the early 1920s) on property that his sister-in-law originally owned. George purchased the property in 1919 from Ella’s surviving children. A local historian has photos showing a different house on the property prior to the one you see now. The original house may have possibly burned down, or perhaps George had it torn down to make way for a new structure.

The following paragraphs are excerpts from an article that appeared in the Smyth County News, Marion, VA on Thursday, February 5, 1848 that will give you an idea of the man that was George A Collins.
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George was born in 1875. He and his brother, Lewis Preston Collins, Sr. were sons of James B. and Elizabeth Shields Collins of Greenville, VA in Augusta County, an old Albermarle and Nelson Counties’ family—one of whose ancestors fell at Brandywine, fighting in the American Revolution.

At 14, George was working on the farm and in charge of the family flourmill. He got into business early. The milling job was all right, but there were long hours at the west end of a pair of mules headed east, plowing the new ground—a peculiar preparation for a man who would make his mark in the business world mainly because he had a certain flare for instinctively understanding what was ‘right’ about the clothes that women wear.

In 1898, George, and Lewis Preston Sr, his brother, opened the Collins Brothers Department Store in Marion’s business district downtown. Those were the days when women’s hats were millinery. Traveling milliners came to town and created them—perhaps erected would be a better term—right in the store. George Collins went strong on Millinery. He hunted out the best ribbons and other materials. He got the best milliners.

Some of the Southwest Virginia’s older women in neighboring counties will recall traveling many, many miles in those days to get a Collins hat.

Outside the business, George Collins was very active in service to his community. He served 40 years with the Marion Volunteer Fire Department, the last 20 of which he was its president. He was active in the Marion Baptist Church where he served as chairman of the board of deacons and superintendent of the Sunday school. He was also a freemason.

In public life, Mr. Collins was an active member of the group that fought through the construction of Smyth Count’s present courthouse, and served in it as county treasurer from 1911-12. When WWI came along, he tried to enlist, but was turned down for health reasons. So he spearheaded the movement to sell war bonds.

Mr. Collins was also very active in the Masonic orders. He served on the committee that built the present Masonic Temple. He was active in founding the Virginia Club—the then town’s leading social organization.

The following quote sums up George Collins fairly well: “I’d like for you to say one thing for me. The key to happiness is an unselfish busy life with a well grounded hope in eternity.”

In More Recent Years…

Not long after the death of Mary Shields “Mollie” Collins (in 1960), the property became part of a local hospital. Shortly after that, a local Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, Emmett V. Richardson Sr., who opened his practice on the first floor of the home, acquired it. For many years, the second floor of the home was rented to various businesses and a local lawyer. Dr. Richardson’s son, Emmett Jr. later became a doctor and joined his father’s practice. The “Richardson Clinic” was operated until approximately 2001 when Emmett Jr. decided to retire.

The property was purchased in  August 2002 and  what would become an almost 5-1/2 year total renovation began, transforming the house into The Collins House Inn—a bed and breakfast offering green lodging to guests. The B&B officially opened December 1, 2007 with the hosting of the very first guest.

The following is a “Cliffs Notes” version of the restoration. The house was completely gutted.All of the trim was removed from the windows, doors, baseboards, etc.—all of which was completely stripped and repainted. The bulk of the enclosed side porch was rebuilt and a new back addition was reconstructed, which houses a 2-car garage and mud room on the lower level and the kitchen and laundry rooms on the second level. All of the window sashes were reworked. All the old glazing and glass was removed, stripped down to bare wood, and then put back together again. Commercial carpeting had been glued to the original hardwood floors throughout the entire house. The carpet and adhesive were removed, and the original wood floors were sanded and refinished.

When – they started to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, they installed radiant floor heat throughout, installed all new plumbing and electrical components, had polyurethane foam insulation sprayed into all of the walls and ceilings before installing the drywall, and they installed central air conditioning. They say-the house is not haunted. All the ghosts escaped when they tore out the steam pipes. The workmanship on this house is truly superb. The previous owners/innkeepers named the rooms for the members of the Collins House who lived there.

But new projects were calling to them, and in May 2013, they sold the inn to the current owners, Susan and Mike Edwards, refugees from Minnesota, via Florida. Susan and Mike are excited about all the opportunities this inn holds and hope that you will enjoy their continued journey with them.

Welcome to the Live Webcam at The Collins House Inn

204 W. Main Street
Marion, VA  24354

View of Main Street from The Collins House Inn