Fire destroyed the Richmond Hill Inn’s historic mansion early Thursday. The fire, which investigators now believe was intentionally set, brought to light foreclosure proceedings and a legal battle involving the past and current owners of the property.
William Gray bought the property in 2005 for $10.4 million from owners Albert and Marge Michel of Greensboro. The Michels bought the property in the mid 1980s from the Preservation Society of Asheville and brought the property back to life. Over the years the original structure, built in 1889 as a private home for ambassador and congressman Richmond Pearson, had fallen into disrepair.
But Gray fell behind on an owner-financed $8.8 million deed of trust with the Michels, who initiated foreclosure proceedings. A notice filed in Buncombe County District Court on Oct. 29, 2008, stated that Gray still owed $6.9 million.
Click here to go to the Xpress Files to read the foreclosure proceedings, as well as a civil lawsuit Gray filed alleging that the Michels failed to disclose significant plumbing problems at the inn prior to his purchase of the property in 2005. Also find tax documents showing that Gray owed $64,000 in back taxes on the property, as well as the last fire inspection report of the Richmond Hill Inn.