A place to celebrate life

Wells Events & Reception Center opens
By Vicki Hyatt | Jul 08, 2014
Photo by: Jessi Stone photo Wells Greeley, seated, is flanked by his wife, Katheryn, and daughter and son-in-law Jennifer and Ryan Jacobson.

Wells Greeley, a fourth-generation business owner in Haywood County, says his latest business expansion — the Wells Events & Reception Center — is definitely his last.

“I think I’ve done enough building in my career,” said Greeley, 62, who worked with his father to expand the family’s Canton business into Waynesville in 1975.

The new event area, which opened last week, adjoins the business at 248 N. Main St. and is located in the building that formerly served as The Mountaineer Publishing press room.

Renovating the old building had its challenges, but Greeley said he was thankful there were no surprises such as the presence of asbestos or structural problems. In fact, many historical aspects of the building, including a portion of the original wood flooring, were restored during the year-long renovation process.

Last week, the center opened for business and has already booked several big events, with interest being shown in many more.

The main purpose for the expansion is to better serve families during their time of sorrow, said Greeley, but he expects there to be plenty of opportunity to serve groups in the community, as well.

The reception room can be used for large gatherings and the high-tech digital equipment makes the center a perfect site for business gatherings where multimedia presentations are needed.

There are a variety of caterers approved to provide service in the center that represent a variety of menu options.

"We want it to definitely supplement the families we're privileged to serve," Greeley said. "It's a way we can help ease the burden. Food is a common denominator that makes everyone feel better. What better way is there to celebrate a life than that?"

He noted there many families without a church, as well as family members from out of town planning a funeral that could benefit from a complete service/reception package.

"If we can provide that outreach for a family, they are better served," he said.

With the multiple rooms in the event center, Greeley said there will be plenty of opportunities to hold meetings, receptions and even weddings at the event center.

In honor of the 126 years the family has been in business in Haywood, each of the rooms in the new facility are named after a family member.

There’s the Patrick Reception Room, named in honor of Greeley’s father, and the Dutch McCracken Wells Conference room, named after his grandmother. The elegant Miriam Lobby, complete with an elegant area to relax, is named for his mother.

The James Wells Room, named for Greeley’s grandfather, serves as a multi-purpose area that is equally suitable for business meetings, a training area or a funeral service.

Kathy Greeley did all of the elegant decorating in the event center and said she couldn't be more pleased with the final results. The new space feels more like being in someone's home instead of a typical reception hall and event center.

"I really enjoy doing older buildings," she said about decorating the space. "I wanted to create a space that's casually elegant — a space that feels comfortable and not too formal."

Another option at the event center is for outdoor events in the large paved area facing Wall Street. During a tour of the former area occupied by the printing press, Greeley envisioned an entertainment and food area indoors with plenty of space for folks to socialize outdoors.

"We're hoping this is something that will be embraced by Haywood County," he said. "We're proud we were able to take a building in a bad state of disrepair and turn it into something of value."

Greeley's daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Ryan Jacobson, represent the fifth generation of the family business.

"We feel very blessed that the center is ready now because some of the baby boomer generation and younger have a different idea of what they want," Jennifer said. "They want more of a celebration of life service — something more unique than a traditional burial service. Some people say they want a party for their loved one."

Greeley admitted the newest expansion is a bit of a risk, but is one he was happy to take.

"The fifth generation is coming on in this business," he said. “God has blessed us greatly to carry on a business that’s been in existence for 126 years now, this is something we feel is needed in the community.”