Where We Live: Inside the Historic CW Worth House, the longest operating bed and breakfast in Wilmington

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Where We Live: A weekly look at the homes in the Cape Fear Region

WILMINGTON — For more than 20 years, Doug and Margi Erickson have lived their dream in Wilmington: to own a bed and breakfast, and welcome visitors to the city they have come to know and love.

This week’s “Where We Live” takes you inside their home, the CW Worth House, an English Queen Anne Style home located at 412 South Third St. right near the heart of downtown. This spacious historic mansion was built in 1893 and sits on one of the largest lots in the city.

Over its 124 years, the mansion has been home to many. Originally a private home for the late Charles W. Worth and his family, it later became a boarding home in 1944 and remained so for about 40 years. Then, the home was renovated in 1985 into a bed and breakfast.

The Historic Wilmington Foundation Inc. has a plaque on the CW Worth Home that reads:

Charles W. Worth House, 1893, D. Getaz, Contractor. Queen Anne Style House built for Charles W. Worth (1861-1930), President of the Worth Company, Wholesale Grocers, Cape Fear Machine Works, and Secretary-Treasurer of Wilmington Terminal Warehouses; and wife Emma Walker (1866- 1956), native of Ashboro, NC.  

The home has been the longest-operating bed and breakfast in the city. Though it has switched owners over three decades, the Erickson’s have been longest-running innkeepers during the CW Worth House’s bed and breakfast history.

The New Jersey couple purchased the property in 1999 after owning a smaller bed and breakfast in Wilmington just a few blocks away. In the CW Worth House, they saw an opportunity to expand their services to guests and visitors to the area.

The mansion is 5,800 sq. ft. of heated living space with a total of seven guest bedrooms – each with its own full bathroom — for guests to stay. Each room, elegant in its own way and holds its own unique name: The Louisiana Suite, The Azalea Suite, The Hibiscus Room, The Rose Suite, The Jasmine Room, The Garden Room and The Turret Room.

The CW Worth House is within walking distance to the city – approximately three blocks from the Cape Fear River — and all downtown attractions, shops and restaurants. The Ericksons also work with downtown business owners to provide packages for the inn’s guests. 

A photo of The Louisiana Suite, one of the largest rooms in the CW Worth House.

“We’re close enough to the action of downtown but far enough away that if you don’t want to deal with the crowds or the night life, you can just stay here,” Doug Erickson said.

And of course, there’s breakfast, which consists of a hearty fare from coffee and tea to homemade muffins, quiche, pancakes and more. Breakfast is the time of morning when the guests of the CW Worth House gather before heading out for their busy day on the town, at the river or the beach.

During the peak season, which typically runs from March until October, guests fill every room of the house, Doug Erickson said. Guests come from North Carolina and throughout the United States, even from around the world.

Guests gather at the table for breakfast before heading off to see the sights of Wilmington.
Guests gather at the table for breakfast before heading off to see the sights of Wilmington.

The city has “lots to offer,” Margi Erickson said. Wilmington was one of the last places Doug and Margi Erickson searched for their dream bed and breakfast spot. They chose the area because it met their criteria for a location, including being a historic tourist town and close to a university. 

“We found Wilmington and fell in love with it. Especially once we discovered the proximity to the river and the ocean, and once we moved here, we discovered the neighborliness of living in the historic district and wonderful community,” Margi Erickson said. “We love living in the historic district. That was one of our criteria for finding a city to live in and run a bed and breakfast.”

And through the almost 18 years of owning and operating the CW Worth House, Doug and Margi Erickson have seen several of their guests come back for another stay.

“We do have guests that have been coming to the Worth House since it became a bed and breakfast in 1985. There’s a couple families that have been coming through all those years through different owners,” Margi Erickson said. “We’ve been here 17 years going on 18 years. So we’ve made friends. We have guests that come back every single year for their anniversary. So for 17 years we see them every year and sometimes two and three times a year.”

A look inside the seating area of The Hibiscus Room.
A look inside the seating area of The Hibiscus Room.

“So that’s an extra perk of the business that we didn’t expect,” Margi Erickson said. “I had no idea that would happen. So that’s pretty cool,” she said.

It’s for that reason why the Ericksons say, people tend to choose a bed and breakfast spot over a hotel. It’s for the more intimate and social setting, Margi Erickson said.

“It’s definitely a different experience from a hotel. Your typically in a private home with the owners on site … it’s personalized service,” Margi Erickson said. “If you go to a bed and breakfast, typically you have expectations that it is more of a social experience than a hotel. And so, people who go to a bed and breakfast know that they’re going to be among other people in a more intimate setting.”

For more information about this bed and breakfast including, room rates and other amenities, visit the CW Worth House, A Victorian Inn, website or check out its Facebook page. To reach Doug and Margi Erickson, email them at relax@worthhouse.com or call 910-762-8562.

Take a tour of the CW Worth House, Bed and Breakfast:

Where We Live is a weekly feature looking at the homes and unique places to stay in the Cape Fear Region. Do you have a home, on or off the market, that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let us know at PCD@localvoicemedia.com.