When Amanda ’11 MA and James Keith ’13 DMA decided to open an inn, they first looked into Greensboro’s downtown spaces. But then a building just blocks from the UNCG campus in the 100-year-old Westerwood neighborhood caught their eye. The large, three-story columned house gave them an opportunity to grow a community.
“This house is a magnet,” said Amanda, who also works as a managing editor at Wake Forest University Press, where she began as an intern while earning her master’s degree in English. While at UNCG, Amanda also worked as a graduate assistant in what is now the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement. There she made nonprofit connections she still calls on today.
Though the Double Oaks Bed and Breakfast has only been open since the end of 2017, it is already a part of the cultural fabric of Greensboro. It was the site of the Triad Local First annual fundraiser, the National Folk Festival V.I.P. dinner, “Ethnosh,” and countless other community events, including a memorial for the beloved former director of UNCG’s MFA creative writing program, Jim Clark.
“It feels like Greensboro has grown with us,” said James, as he reflects on their 13 years in the area and the economic development they’ve seen along the way.
The Keiths came to Greensboro from Kansas so that James could pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting. A double major in antique car restoration and vocal performance, he lost 55 percent of his voice in a car fire in 2009. He credits UNCG faculty member Dr. Robert Wells for helping him to retrain his vocal cords. Now, he is founding conductor for the master chorale with the Greensboro Symphony, after serving as assistant director of music at Greensboro’s First Presbyterian Church. He also makes a mean breakfast quiche for the guests at Double Oaks.
The Keiths’ connection to UNCG remains strong. Interior architecture students designed renderings for the recent third-floor renovation of the Double Oaks, jazz studies faculty and students often perform at “Wine Wednesdays,” and frequently UNCG visiting artists and lecturers stay at the inn.
During a January 2018 snowstorm, when the UNCG campus was closed because of the weather, the inn became a makeshift lecture hall for snowbound prospective faculty members.
The Keiths’ Spartan spirit is no surprise.
“UNCG is our reason for being here, and doing what we do,” James said.
In honor of the Westerwood neighborhood’s 100-year anniversary, Double Oaks will host the Westerwood Soirée, a 1920s-themed garden party with live music, dessert, and drinks. To learn more, visit the Double Oaks website.
This story originally appeared in UNCG Magazine. To read other stories about UNCG alumni making an impact, visit alumnimagazine.uncg.edu.
Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Jiyoung Park, University Communications