Haunted Bed & Breakfast
Private Tour

Story and Photos by Mary Murkin

Question: what do a Bugatti, a haunted bed-and-breakfast and eight extremely unique individuals have in common?

Answer: One adventure-filled evening in Montgomery County, North Carolina!

This outing was months in the planning stages. We set our sights on the Saturday evening of June 1, 2019, to make our way out to the Star Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Star, North Carolina. I tend to refer to many of my outings with this gang as adventures. It sounds so much more daring and exciting. For the most part we are legends in our own minds–and this particular adventure was no exception.

Our convoy arrived at the Star Bed and Breakfast at approximately 6 PM. It was a mild, clear, blue-sky evening. As we pulled into the gravel parking lot, all of our eyes locked onto the long, gleaming white, vintage Bugatti – – an Italian two-seater sports car. Even if you are not a car enthusiast, just seeing this automobile would make your heart skip a beat.

Once we were able to pry our eyes off of the dazzling little car, our gaze then turned to the two-story, light blue, fairytale like Victorian bed-and-breakfast that was looming high over our heads. A collective gasp went up as we each tried to find just the right exclamation to say out loud about this 6,000 square-foot treasure. Just looking at this extraordinarily detailed Victorian hotel built in 1896 made us feel like we were in another time.

Our plan was to walk around the outside of the bed and breakfast and take photos of it and of ourselves near it. We also wanted to see the meditation garden with it’s 12+ foot high multilevel water fountain. To get to the meditation garden, we had to walk around the back of the property and down a little path. Once we made it to this destination, we felt completely at peace and secluded from the rest of the world. This spellbound moment hung in time so effortlessly until we were all startled by the soundless appearance of a very kind older man who gently whispered “Hello” to us.

Ahhhhhh!!!! We nearly jumped out of our skins. Our surprise visitor introduced himself as Richard, the caretaker of the hotel and property. We begged forgiveness for trespassing and explained that we were from Asheboro and wanted to just see the outside of the bed-and-breakfast and the meditation garden. One of the members of my gang began talking with him and as things would have it, she happened to be very good friends with one of his best friends. He very kindly asked us if we would like to come up to the hotel for a private tour. Oh my gosh! This was more than we had hoped for and appreciatively acccepted his invitation.

We tromped our way out of the garden, up the path and then onto the porch by a side door to go into the bed and breakfast. As soon as all eight of us were inside the entryway and that big door shut behind us, we instantly felt like we were inside a time capsule from the late 1800s. This was such a sensory overload. Between the dazzling colors of the walls, the beauty of the foreign rugs, the sparkling elegance of the large, breathtaking chandeliers, the ornate wooden staircase and all of the decor throughout each room, the feeling of being suspended in another time long ago was deepened with each new sight.

Honestly, it was all we could do to not gawp at each new thing we laid eyes on. I’m talking about things like the ornate wooden staircase – – built by the Cooper brothers, who are the same fellows who built the grand staircase aboard the ill-fated Titanic–to the exquisite, ornate tall wooden organ that looked like it came straight out of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” movie, a seven foot tall vase, and a spectacularly colorful and ornate full-sized Egyptian sarcophagus! Do you see what I mean? My gosh – – any one of these things would have been well worth the drive out there, but to see this enormous beautiful old hotel filled with these things in every single room was practically paralyzing, and not just as a figure of speech. As we would go into each next room, we would just stop dead in our tracks to take in all the wonders of that room.

The star hotel was built in 1896. Its original owners were Angus and Deborah Leach. The hotel is currently owned by Gary Spivey, a professional psychic. He purchased the bed and breakfast in 2004. He hired his sister, Joyce, as his bed and breakfast manager and spent the next four years giving the whole place an extensive long-distance makeover from California. Joyce and her husband, Richard, continued on as the caretakers of the hotel.

It is purported that Deborah Leach haunts the bed and breakfast, as she passed away in the hotel on October 30, 1901 at the age of 51 – – just five years after starting to run the hotel. We learned of stories about how Joyce had seen the ghost of Deborah Leach, but Richard has not. He indicated that was fine with him.

A few stories emerged about some various unaccounted-for sounds and sights that have been heard and seen at the bed-and-breakfast. These things include, but are not limited to: A baby crying, doorknobs turning, a straw broom whisking, a woman humming and also lights flickering on and off. While we were there on our private tour, we did not experience anything overtly paranormal. We all concurred though, that 123 years worth of good energy absolutely radiated throughout the hotel and all over the grounds and meditation garden.

This fearless group returned on November 23, 2019 for an overnight visit. What happened there that night is clearly material for a whole separate story. We had no idea of what adventures would befall us there on that chilly autumn evening in the heart of Montgomery County!

Wealth of Our Community

Braxton Craven, 1822 – 1882

by WT Cox

Braxton Craven, the father of Trinity College. – Used by permission of Duke University Archives

A good example of someone overcoming diversity and hardship while leaving a lasting impact on our world is the life of Braxton Craven. Orphaned at a early age and adopted into the family of William Nathan Cox, who lived in the settlement known as Coxborough, located along the mouth of Millstone Creek and Buffalo Ford along Deep River approximately four miles south of Ramseur. Braxton chose to keep his birth name of Craven, but was deeply impacted by the Cox Family that raised him. He developed a work ethic and a desire to succeed despite the odds. His quest for learning was kindled at an early age. Braxton Craven went on to become a respected teacher, minister, scholar, writer and educator. He converted to Methodist while president of Trinity College but never forgot his Quaker up-bringing by his adopted Cox family. He is credited with allowing some of the first women to earn degrees of higher education in the South and his legacy lives on today in his school that later became Duke University. Learn more about Braxton Craven in the article below, taken from The Heritage of Randolph County , North Carolina: Volume I – 1993.


Braxton Craven was born on August 26, 1822, near the Holly Spring Community in Randolph County. At age seven he was orphaned and was taken into the home of Nathan Cox, a Quaker who operated a farm and a trading post. He had 14 children of his own, plus young “Brax” to help out with the farm work.

A minor accident when he was eleven years old had a great influence upon the life of Braxton Craven. He was riding in a wagon with his adopted father hauling goods to Fayetteville. He fell from the wagon and a horse stepped on his leg. They stopped at a store to secure bandages and the storekeeper gave Braxton his first book, a “speller” to divert his mind from the pain. This started him on his educational career. He persuaded his foster father to let him attend a subscription school about three miles from their home.

Braxton was an apt pupil and read everything he could find. At age sixteen, he organized a subscription school of his own at Soloman York’s plantation. During this period, young Braxton was converted to the Methodist faith while attending a meeting at Salem Church. His preaching career started soon after and he began preaching in 1840. He worked on the farm, taught school, and preached, saving his money to further his education. He attended New Garden Boarding School at Guilford College 1839-1841.

After finishing at New Garden, he went to Union Institute in Trinity, as an assistant teacher and became a full-fledged teacher in 1842. He succeeded Brantley York as head of Union Institute and soon became sensitive about the fact that he did not have a college degree. He secured permission from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia to take the examinations in certain courses.

After passing these exams, he received an honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree in June 1845. Two years later he did the same thing and received a Master of Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina. As his fame as an educator spread, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Andrew College in Tennessee and in 1874 was awarded a Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Missouri.

Braxton Craven married Irene Leach in 1844. They made their home in Trinity and he spent his life working for the betterment of education. He realized the need for a school to train teachers, and it was through his efforts that the Union Institute became Trinity Normal College. He guided the school through the trying years of the Civil War and Reconstruction. By his persuasion, the Methodist Church became the supporter of the college when it was near financial ruin. He continued to guide the institution until its move to Durham where it became Duke University.

Chair from the Office of Braxton Craven while President of Trinity College.  Courtesy of WT Cox