Before Biltmore: Native American & Other Early Settlements on the Estate
The story of indigenous settlements goes back centuries before George Vanderbilt was born and encompasses people and communities few of us today know much about. The region was still a vast wilderness when the first Europeans settled west of the Blue Ridge and organized the new county of Buncombe in a barn along the Swannanoa that later became part of Biltmore Estate. Come to an upcoming Preservation Society sponsored lecture by Bill Alexander, a local historian uniquely qualified to speak on this wide-ranging subject. You’ll see the grounds of the Biltmore Estate from a whole new vantage point.
Fletcher History and Heritage
Before it was Fletcher, it was Murrayville. The Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County is pleased to host a program about the history of a small town with a colorful past, to say the least!
Our speaker, Brenda Coates is the author of At the End of Road the Journey Begins: How the Murray Clan Shaped the Character of Western North Carolina. She will bring the town’s rich history alive – starting from pioneer life and the Stagecoach Inn, where Howard’s Gap Road intersected the Buncombe Turnpike. The tale turns toward a tragic limestone mine cave, touches on a mysterious hanging and taps into what makes Fletcher special.
This presentation is scheduled for July 19th, starting at 5:30 at the old Feed and Seed store, located at 3715 Hendersonville Road in Fletcher. The doors open at 5:00, and the program begins with a half hour of Appalachian and blue grass music by Brian Hunter and friends. Brenda’s talk begins at about 6:00 pm.
The old Feed and Seed store is an example of active and successful historic preservation. Now the home of the Feed and Seed Church, the site was the former Fletcher Supply Company, built in 1919 by the Youngblood family, and was the “heart of downtown Fetcher” for many years. Pastor Phillip Trees of the Feed and Seed Church saw the site’s potential and appreciated its history.
Pastor Phillip recruited volunteer labor to rehab the building for worship space, preserving the hardwood floors and hammered tin tiles on 12 foot ceilings. The space now hosts community gatherings for family-friendly regional and bluegrass music and also clogging dances on Friday and Saturday nights.
Look for parking behind the building. See you there!
PSABC Annual Meeting & Saved Asheville
In a follow up to the popular education event from last year, “Lost Asheville”, PSABC Executive Director Jack Thomson will present “Saved Asheville” on June 28, 5:30pm at the PSABC Annual Meeting. Highlighting the collection of success stories of preservation, Jack will go in depth in the strategies, blood, sweat and tears of our organization. Hear about 30+ years of dedication of an all volunteer organization and many of the recent staff supported “saves” that contribute to keeping Asheville a special place.
Founding & History of Eliada Home and Tour
Tami joined Eliada in 2013 after serving as Development Officer at two other children’s homes in North Carolina and Kentucky. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive, participating in four capital campaigns in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Indiana, and is on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fund Raising Professionals WNC Chapter.
Eliada Home was founded in 1906 by the Rev. Lucius B. Compton in a small cabin five miles from Asheville. Eliada has evolved to house state of the art residential facilities, expanded foster care and educational services and comprehensive individual transition assistance to youngsters aging out of foster care. The campus is a National Historic District with structures in several styles still standing and in service, as well as surprising remnants of another time. Come and be inspired in this historic setting.
Postcards of Vanished Asheville
The period from the 1900’s through the 1950’s was the golden age of the postcard. Postcards were an inexpensive and colorful means of communication. Everyone bought them as souvenirs or to mail while on vacation. Vintage postcards are fascinating footnotes documenting the social and cultural history of our city, state and country. Terry Taylor will present “Vanished Asheville”, a look at Asheville and Buncombe County through postcard images gleaned from his personal collection and the NC collection at Pack Library. Terry’s love of this medium began as a child and he still has the first postcard he received when he was three years old. Hear and learn a bit about the history of the postcard and see a “Vanished Asheville” you may never have seen before!
Terry Taylor is as close to a local native as one can be without being born in Buncombe County. His parents and grandparents hail from the Billy Cove in Candler and the Big Sandy Mush community. Terry lived in different states and countries as he traveled with his Air Force family. He’s lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina since 1964 except for a decade in Durham County’s rolling piedmont. After careers in special education and craft publishing Terry’s interests cover not only history but arts and crafts. He works in mixed media and his artistic interests grow and include creating jewelry having completed the Professional Crafts Program at Haywood Community College. He recently exhibited a large selection of collage and stitched real photo postcards and is currently working on grouping collaged and stitched linen-era postcards for an early summer exhibit in 2018.
Lighthouses Antiquity to Preservation
Preservationists are part of a very big picture with state, national and international efforts in many areas. Wayne Wheeler is America’s expert on the history of lighthouses, and founder of the United States Lighthouse Society and preservation movement. He will present a two part program. The program will include a brief overview of the lighthouses of antiquity, leading up to the development of American lighthouses and their preservation over the last 30 years. This will be followed by a question and answer period expected to be lively and informative!
Wayne is a retired Coast Guard officer who founded the society in 1984. It publishes a quarterly journal and bulletin, maintains a 5,000 volume research library and archives, collects related artifacts and grants annual preservation funding for lighthouse and lightship projects. The society provides regional, national and international lighthouse tours, some to restricted sites. The society received a Department of Transportation award for “Outstanding Contribution to Historic Preservation” among other distinctions and awards. Wayne has lectured throughout the United States at Science and Mariner’s museums, and appeared on Good Morning America, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and locally over the past ten years at UNCA’s OLLI center.
Railroads in WNC
Hear this informative, moving and entertaining presentation about the challenges of building railroads into these mountains, and the revolutionary changes that resulted after the first train arrived in Asheville October, 1880.
The heartbreak and heroism of constructing rail lines up the Blue Ridge escarpment involved convict labor building loops, tracks on shelves along rivers and the famous Saluda Grade, the steepest standard gauge railroad in the United States. Learn details of the dramatic growth of timber, mining and tourism as mountainsides gave way to lumber barons and landscapes scarred by miners prospecting for iron ore, feldspar, mica, zircon , marble, copper and other minerals. At the same time Railroads took the title of Christian Reid’s novel, The Land of the Sky, to promote summer visitors to the region. Tourism burgeoned as businesses and communities grew along the right of way making Black Mountain, Hot Springs, Hendersonville and Waynesville new destinations.
The historical impact is given with a glimpse into current efforts by the WNC Rail Committee’s current effort to improve and expand service to the region, including restoration of passenger rail service to Asheville.
Ray Rapp retired in 2009 as Dean of Adult and Graduate studies at Mars Hill University and is presently a consultant to the university President. He is married to Dorothy Rapp, a retired school counselor at Asheville High. They have two children: Jennifer Rapp Shelton, Principal at Fletcher Elementary and Aaron Frost Rapp, PhD student in theoretical math at UNC-Greensboro. Ray served 5 terms in the NC House education appropriations committees and select committees on improving and expanding rail service in NC. He is co-chair of the Western North Carolina Rail Corridor Committee. In 2015 he curated the exhibition at Mars Hill University Rural Heritage Museum: “How the West Was Won”. This exhibition traveled to Saluda and Marion and will be featured at the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer for 12 months. Ray lectures extensively on regional rail history to civic groups and in 2016 to the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in Shepherdstown, West Va. He developed week long learning adventures for Elder Hostel (now Roads Scholars) and the NC Center for Advancement of Teaching entitled “Whistle Stops in Western North Carolina”.
Cabins In The Forest
A new twist on mid century style! Many historic NC log cabins were rescued from decay, disassembled and moved throughout Buncombe County in the mid 20th century. This movement not only salvaged log structures, it typically romanticized and updated them for a variety of uses. While the majority of these cabins served as guest cottages, some of them were developed as commercial and non-profit structures. The more public cabins are visible on local highways. However, the guest cottages are hidden deep in the forests. Come enjoy a presentation by noted architect Robert Griffin with a peek into these hidden gems and see how the current owners have continued to preserve and furnish them! Also, get an update on the stabilization and restoration of the Thomas Wolfe Cabin, currently owned by the City of Asheville.
Robert Griffin is President and principal architect of Griffin Architects, P.A. in Biltmore Village, and was instrumental in the 1987 designation and protection of the Village as a local historic district. He is the restoration architect for All Souls Cathedral. Robert served on the Board of Directors for the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. Robert’s dedication to both preservation and adaptive reuse of historic properties in our area have resulted in numerous awards, to name a few: AIA Honor Award 2008; The Garden Club of America Award 2007; North Carolina Main Street Award 2005; Preservation Award for the Grove Arcade 2003; Sondley Preservation Award, Historic Resources Commission; Robert E. Stipe Professional Award, The Historic Preservation Foundation of NC 1994; Local award for the Manor Inn 1993; The Carraway Award, State Historic Preservation Foundation 1989.
Bent Creek Appalachian Research Center & Tour
PSABC supporters took a “talk and walk” at the historical government research site where the results have improved eastern forests in America. Just a little west of Asheville, the Bent Creek Experimental Forest in Avery Creek played host to this informative presentation by Julia Kirschman, of the US Forest Service. Julia also provided a guided walk that covered the past, present and future of this important research campus.
Bent Creek Experimental Forest, established in 1925, is the oldest federal experimental forest east of the Mississippi. Before that, this land had endured over-logging and worse before better days and practices prevailed. Today at this 6000-acre woods, U. S. Government scientists research the best ways to restore and sustain upland hardwood forests. In 1993, the Bent Creek Campus was entered on the National Register of Historic Places. This storied place had plenty of timber for an interesting presentation.
Our speaker, Julia Kirschman, is a Forester and Technical Transfer Specialist at Bent Creek. She has served as a Wilderness Ranger, a Certified Timber Marker and Forestry Technician with the US Forest Service since 1989. Kirschman holds an Environmental Science degree from Warren Wilson College and a Masters in Forestry Resources from Clemson University. Today as a Transfer Specialist, she helps communicate research results into usable formats for both professional resource managers and the general public.
“After last year’s drought and all the regional wildfires, forest regeneration is a hot topic,” says Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, Education Committee Chair. “Bent Creek’s research is so important – for woodlands and wildlife and their place in our world.”
Farm Heritage Trail
Buncombe Country farmland is a valuable, beautiful natural resource. And one thing is certain: no one is making more land. What we have is all there is, and the Farm Heritage Trail celebrates and safeguards all of it. Join PSABC for a day devoted to local family farming — past, present and future.
Our two speakers, Terri Wells and Ariel Zijp, envisioned and realized the Farm Heritage Trail in northwest Buncombe County, which showcases family farms of the Leicester, Alexander, Newfound and Sandy Mush communities. In a two-hour presentation at the Sandy Mush Community Center, Terri and Ariel will share their perspective on family farming heritage and the vital importance of farmland conservation. Learn how Buncombe County agriculture, from the late 18th century on, shaped and influenced the larger community’s growth and prosperity. Come and experience how the land grounds us in so many ways.
Terri Wells is a 9th generation Sandy Mush farmer at Bee Branch Farm and a member of the Buncombe County Agriculture Advisory Board. She and her husband Glenn Ratcliff, chemistry professor at AB Tech, are dedicated farm conservationists, helping their family give 600 acres to the Appalachian Highlands Conservancy through a permanent easement.
Ariel Zijp, a Carrabus County native with a degree is Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry from Warren Wilson College, is the Farmland Conservation Coordinator for Buncombe Country Soil and Water. She and her husband have a 2-acre homestead in Mars Hill, where they host farm-to-table dinners, cooking workshops and more.
After the talk, everyone is invited to spend the afternoon on the scenic Farm Heritage Trail. The Trail has farm stops far and wide, with the chance to visit produce fields, a bison ranch, an herb nursery and a vineyard. Wear comfortable shoes and bring along some extra cash for everything from jams to jerky, fresh eggs to smoked bacon, homemade cider to handmade crafts.
“The Farm Heritage Trail is like a treasure map,” says Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, Education Committee Chair, “with every stop brimming with things to see and savor. Come hungry for a great experience.”
WNC Historic Barns & Architecture
If you have ever wondered about the stories of hauntingly beautiful old barns you see all over our region, this month you will have a chance to learn more about them from someone who has devoted a lot of time and energy to uncovering their mysteries. PSABC will present Taylor Barnhill of the Appalachian Barn Alliance on Saturday, April 29, at 10:30 a.m. at Eliada Home.
“Much of this work is akin to archaeology: uncovering evidence of barn building traditions that are long lost to memory, and to oral tradition,” says Barnhill, an architect and local historian. “Take, for example, 19th century livestock barns built using timber-frame methods, with mortise and tenon joinery, practices thought to be limited to more northern regions.”
Barnhill is the lead historic and architectural researcher for the Appalachian Barn Alliance (ABA) based in Madison County, which records and documents the history of barns in our region. Barnhill will shed light on some of ABA’s work and show how a barn’s architecture, while driven mostly by function, is often a beautiful storehouse of regional culture. So barns could serve generations of family farmers, they were often preserved and repurposed.
“Ask anyone you meet about barns in the mountains, and they will tell you about burley tobacco barns,” Barnhill says. “Yet, there are the remnants of the earlier bright leaf, flue-cured tobacco barns hidden up many hollows. Flue-cured tobacco was introduced in 1870 as a Civil War reconstruction stimulus program, and it pre-dated burley tobacco by 50 years. These are the artifacts being brought into the light.”
Barnhill’s program includes a tour of the traditional Amish barn on the Eliada Home campus, a large dairy barn that burned in 1927 and was rebuilt by Pennsylvania Amish who traveled here for the reconstruction. Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes to enjoy this walking tour and learn how this special barn now serves Eliada’s mission.
Jack Thomson … yes, The Preservation Society’s very own Executive Director and all-around go-to guy, shares Asheville’s personal story of loss and, hopefully, renewal at an upcoming March program. Over the decades, significant local architectural sites have been lost to demolition, tragedy and plain old poor decision-making. When this infrastructure disappears, so does future potential. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In a fast-paced slide presentation, Jack will show some of the significant buildings and places that are no more – grand old hotels to historic homes to civic buildings to entire neighborhoods. America’s throw-away culture tends to trash cultural heritage. Preservation prizes this heritage and works to save it — and though that’s always challenging, it’s also always rewarding. See some of PSABC’s current projects and priorities, like the Thomas Wolfe cabin and the Merrimon Fire Station, and hear more about how demolition trends are impacting new housing and other developments.
Asheville’s preservation movement helped start the city’s late-20th century turnaround and empowers renewal and growth today. Jack Thomson is one of the leaders on this front. He is a native of western North Carolina, a UNC-Greensboro graduate, and a preservation professional with extensive experience in historic restoration. Since becoming PSABC Executive Director in 2010, Jack initiated our partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And there is much more to come.
“The PSABC mission is to preserve and promote the unique historic resources of our region, and work to sustain the sense of place that is Asheville and Buncombe County,” says Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, Education Committee Chair. “Jack is passionate about this, and I know that will be obvious in his program.”
W. W. Dodge Silversmith & Architect
The Preservation Society’s first event of 2017 celebrates one of our region’s most versatile and accomplished Arts & Crafts talents: William Waldo Dodge. Dodge’s creative life is the subject of Bruce Johnson’s January 26th talk at All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village. Johnson has graced the PSABC with a number of well-attended presentations, and his upcoming program promises to be especially rewarding.
Following a pretty privileged youth abruptly ended in a World War I trench, Dodge landed in Asheville’s outskirts, where he recovered physically and would thrive creatively. An architect by profession with Asheville commissions that still stand, Dodge became a craftsman by avocation. Inspired by the rustic, romantic themes of the Arts & Crafts movement, he was a woodcarver, a painter, and best of all, a silversmith, developing a unique hammering technique for a “waterfall” effect. Today, Dodge’s silver creations are showcased in museums and private collections, including here in Asheville, where – not incidentally — Dodge’s “plein air” painting led to “log cabin” preservation, as Johnson will share.
Bruce Johnson has long researched and written about Dodge, with a focus on his silver artistry. Johnson wrote the catalog for a 2005 Dodge exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum. And of course, Johnson is renowned as founder and director of the annual National Arts & Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn, held every February and now in its 30th year. One more thing … everyone attending this PSABC lecture will receive a half-price ticket for the February 17-19 event, courtesy of Johnson and the Arts & Crafts Conference.
“William Waldo’s silver legacy lives on. Dodge’s granddaughter, Kirby Rhuland, along with her husband, owns Grace Jewelers in Black Mountain,” says Kieta Osteen-Cochrane, Education Committee Chair. “And Grace Jewelers is generously sponsoring our program in January.”