Inkeeper Helps Guests "Slow down" and Enjoy West Virginia
by Scott Kinard
BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Nancy McCoy Sostaric was aware at a very young age that she was part of a very different family: Her mother was a Hatfield and her father was a McCoy. “The fact that we were ‘Hatfields and McCoys’ was brought to my attention on a daily basis,” she said. Born and raised in the heart of the coal fields of the Appalachian Mountains, McCoy Sostaric left the state for more than twenty years to live and work in Washington, D.C. Now she is back developing businesses in her beloved home state.
Coming home to West Virginia is not new for McCoy Sostaric. She was born in Pike County, Ky., but moved with her family to live in two bordering counties, Mingo in West Virginia and Buckhannon in Virginia. Even when they lived out of state, West Virginia was always considered home and her family came back to Matewan every weekend to visit her grandmother, attend Sunday church services and have dinner with relatives. “My family did that no matter where we lived,” McCoy Sostaric said.
It was during her time in Matewan when she had interaction with her family, descendents of the notorious Hatfield and McCoy feud. McCoy Sostaric recalls the Hatfields as jovial storytellers and businessmen, while the McCoys were more reserved church-goers. “I grew up knowing how important family is. I appreciate the legacy of it and the value that you can indeed go home again,” McCoy Sostaric said.
She graduated high school in Virginia, but moved back to the Mountain State to attend college at Marshall University in Huntington. She received degrees in sociology and English. In 1974, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she first worked with grant and project development for the criminal justice system. She later became a real estate agent and developer.
McCoy Sostaric bought two townhouses on Capitol Hill, one for her own use and another she established as her first bed and breakfast. “I named it The Brumidi for the artist who painted frescoes in the Capitol,” she said. “I couldn’t believe I could make money doing something that was so much fun.”
The real estate developer maintained the 10-room B&B in D.C. through the 1990s. Amid the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, McCoy Sostaric never forgot the tranquility of the mountains of her home state. When she and her husband Stjepan, a native Croatian and founder of a construction company, wanted to find a weekend getaway they looked no further than West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.
“I knew it would be impossible to return to southern West Virginia because of Stjepan’s job, but I wanted to get as close to the mountains as possible,” McCoy Sostaric said. “The Hatfield clan loved being West Virginians and the McCoys loved the mountains. I traveled quite a bit, but I always longed for the mountains. They give me great comfort.”
The couple purchased a farmhouse in Berkeley Springs, to which Mr. Sostaric grew very fond. “According to him, coming to Berkeley Springs was almost as good as going home,” McCoy Sostaric said. “He also loves the mountains.” A few years later, they also bought an auctioned home across the street, opening the Inn on Fairfax, McCoy Sostaric’s second B&B, in 2005.
Today, McCoy Sostaric is bringing back life to the famous Country Inn in the historic Town of Bath, today known as Berkeley Springs. After purchasing the Country Inn in 2006, the Sostarics made major renovations and restorations to get the inn back to the condition it was in when it opened in 1932 as the Park View Inn. Some of the same guests McCoy Sostaric housed at her B&B in Washington now come to stay with her at the refurbished landmark.
“We have to bring it [the Country Inn] into the 21st century without losing the feeling that the original owners brought to it when they opened for business. They also opened during a difficult economic time, just as we have today,” McCoy Sostaric said.
The native Mountaineer sees West Virginia prospering as people want to “slow down” from their busy, big city lives. She sites the population boom in the Eastern Panhandle as an example: People living in the nation’s capital are migrating away from Washington and into slower-paced counties, such as Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson.
She also thinks West Virginians will be the cause for future success for the Mountain State. “I am absolutely positive that there are no better people anywhere in the world than in West Virginia,” McCoy Sostaric said. “Perhaps it is those mountains that give the people that special quality of caring for each other, independence and the ‘I can really trust you’ attitude.”
“While the rest of the country is trying to figure out how to live a good life,” McCoy Sostaric said, “I think most of us in West Virginia know that we can get in the car, go for a drive through our beautiful mountains and be so thankful for being here. Coming home to West Virginia is rewarding in so many ways.”