Spokane, Washington – The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes (March 2022)

This church was another beautiful and unique building, as well as a piece of Spokane history that I ran across. I was not able to go in so I was only able to view the outside and get pictures. I hope another time that I will be able to go inside as it looks very beautiful from pictures I have seen on the internet.

In August of 1881, Jesuit Father Joseph Cataldo converted a carpenter’s shop into the Church of St. Joseph, the first Catholic church in Spokane. Only five people attended the first Mass in that wooden shed which measured just fifteen by twenty-two feet.

Five years later, a large brick church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes replaced the original structure, and a school opened under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Names. The cornerstone for the present church was laid in 1903. In 1906, the new school was completed. In 1913, Our Lady of Lourdes became the Cathedral for the newly created Diocese of Spokane.

The cathedral is designed in an Italian Romanesque Revival style. The exterior of the structure is faced with red brick accented with granite. The facade is framed by two square towers that reach a height of 164 ft. The interior was renovated in 1971 and most recently in 2019 when the sanctuary was covered in marble and a new marble altar and pews were installed. The old high altar, topped by a Calvary scene, remains in the apse. The bishop’s cathedra (chair) is a combination of the original 1913 throne of Bishop Schinner, the marble cathedra from the 1930s, and new addition in 2018. The cathedral has one organ in the loft W.W. Kimball Pipe Organ. The stunning stained glass windows are from Bavaria.


Spokane, Washington – Riverfront Park (March 2022)

After being evacuated in September of 2021 from Kings Canyon National Park where I had worked and lived for 5 months due to the huge fires I spent a few weeks around the Vacaville and Sacramento areas of California to spend time with some family and a few friends. From there I came to Post Falls, Idaho in October of 2021 and have settled here for now renting a room from a friend I used to work with in Bremerton, Washington. Post-Falls, Idaho is only 15-20 minutes from Spokane, Washington where I have been having several doctor’s appointments catching up on my health and bad knees. So one day in early March 2022 I had gotten the time mixed up for my doctor’s appointment so I had several hours to kill as I did not want to make the drive back home, only to have to turn around and come back. I have not spent time in Spokane nor do I know much about it, so I spent some time wandering around the downtown area and checking out several amazing old buildings, the River Front Park and Spokane Falls.

Spokane was settled in the late 1800s along the Spokane Falls of the Spokane River, a site which was chosen because of the falls’ hydropower potential to support a late 19th-century city and its economy. As Spokane began to grow over its early years, the area become heavily industrialized with numerous sawmills, flour mills, and hydroelectricity generators. Railroading eventually developed around the falls by the early 20th century.

All of the industrializations eventually obscured the falls and the river from public access and view.   Spokane became the site of four transcontinental railroads ……… Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Union Pacific, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad, as well as the regional Oregon Railway. By 1914, Union Pacific had built their own station along with elevated tracks leading up to it, on what would eventually years later become the site of the Expo ’74’ Fair and the development of River Front Park. The heart of Downtown Spokane became a hub for passenger and freight rail transport for several decades. By the mid-20th century, the problems of having a large number of railroads in the middle of the city were beginning to be realized. The elevated railway, warehouses, and other lines leading into the park severely restricted both physical and visual access to the Spokane River and its falls, leading some locals to compare it to the Great Wall of China, plus the high volume of train traffic created a very noisy downtown, and many railroad crossings were causing traffic congestion issues.

By the 1950s, the core of Downtown Spokane began to empty out due to suburbanization, a trend that was prevalent among many American cities during this time. This trend sparked urban renewal discussions in Spokane and in 1959, a group called Spokane Unlimited was formed by local business leaders to try and revitalize Downtown Spokane. In 1961 an urban renewal plan was released that called for the removal of the numerous train tracks and trestles downtown and reclaiming the attractiveness of the Spokane River in the central business district. With support over the next decade of revitalizing and beautifying the area, Spokane Unlimited brought forth a plan in 1970 to put on an event in 1973 to celebrate the centennial of Spokane to fund the projects, but it was decided that a local event would not have the stature to bring in enough funding for the group’s beautification aspirations and that it needed to go bigger; it was suggested that Spokane host an international exposition that could bring in state and federal dollars, as well as tourists from outside Spokane, to fund a riverfront transformation. The idea came back very positive and the 1974 world expo became the targeted event.

Expo ’74, officially known as the International Exposition on the Environment, Spokane 1974, was a world’s fair held May 4, 1974, to November 3, 1974, in Spokane, Washington. It was the first environmentally themed world’s fair that was attended by roughly 5.6 million people. The heart of the fair park grounds was located on Cannon Island, Havermale Island, and the adjacent south bank of the Spokane River, comprising present-day River Front Park in the center of the city.

In 1972, Congress approved an $11.5 million appropriation to build the U.S. Pavilion. The city of Spokane’s three railroads were convinced to move. The Union Pacific, Milwaukee Road, and Burlington Northern donated 17 acres of land to the city, worth many millions, and consolidated their routes to tracks away from downtown and two depots were also torn down except for one iconic piece of the Great Northern Depot……It was the 155-foot-tall clocktower, with its nine-foot-diameter clock face. It became one of the most recognized symbols of the fair, and the city itself. It took many months of negotiations, and a series of complex land swaps, but one of Expo ’74’s key goals had already been accomplished. “The Spokane River was now cleared of railroad steel”.

As soon as Expo ’74 was dismantled, work began on transforming the site into the 100-acre Riverfront Park containing the former U.S. Pavilion and the clock tower. In 1978, a new president, Jimmy Carter came to Spokane to dedicate Riverfront Park, which subsequently become the center of many of Spokane’s biggest celebrations, including its Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve festivities, as well as its big annual sports festivals.

The Bavarian Beer Garden during Expo ’74 housed the Looff Carrousel from 1975-2016, but it lacked the stature to properly display the Carrousel’s rounding boards, and the absence of proper climate control was contributing to the degradation of the wood carvings so, in 2014, Spokane citizens voted to re-house the Carrousel as part of a bond to redevelop Riverfront Park. The new Looff Carrousel building has allowed for more space around the Carrousel itself, a facility to hold birthday and corporate events, concession, and a gift shop, as well as a climate-controlled space, to protect the longevity of the wood carvings. Charles Looff, a master craftsman, created the carrousel as a wedding gift for his daughter Emma. On July 18, 1909, the Looff Carrousel began operation in Natatorium Park, an amusement park on the bank of the Spokane River on the west side of Spokane. After many years of entertaining generations of children and families, the doors were closed for good in 1967 and the Carrousel was put in storage. In the early 1970s, a plan was discussed to bring the Carrousel out of storage to display it during Expo 74, but there were concerns that the crowds could damage the hand-carved Carrousel, so it remained in storage and was moved to Riverfront Park in 1975 in a building that had been constructed for the Expo. I

The Gondola still takes visitors on a ride close enough to the Spokane Falls where you can experience the roar and the spray.

Spokane Falls

The name of a waterfall and dam on the Spokane River located in the central business district in downtown, Spokane. The city of Spokane was also initially named “Spokane Falls”.

The falls consists of the Upper Falls and Lower Falls. The Upper Falls Dam is a diversion dam constructed in 1920 that directs the water into the Upper Falls intake on the south channel of the Spokane River. The water not diverted to the south fork by the dam flows over the Upper Falls. The north fork of the river splits again at Canada Island and flows over the two Upper Falls on either side of the island. The north fork converges again after the Upper Falls and is also rejoined by the diverted south fork. The Lower Falls is the site of a second diversion dam, the Monroe Street Dam. Completed in 1890, it was the first dam built on the Spokane River and is currently the longest-running hydroelectric generation facility in Washington State.

Garden Connections

The Sister Cities “Connections” Garden in Riverfront Park opened in September of 2019. The garden is a space to honor and celebrate the importance of the Sister Cities through nature and art. It’s placed at the site of the former Japanese Pavilion at the Expo ’74 World’s Fair. Art plays a key role in the garden, featuring sculptures from partnerships with Limerick, Ireland, Nishinomiya, Japan, Italy and Spokane.

Representing Limerick, an Irish Harp was created by the late Sister Paula Mary Turnbull before she passed. The harp includes music developed by musicians in Limerick.

A half-sized replica of the Imazu Lighthouse in the bay in Nishinomiya, Japan stands in the garden.  The 11-foot high lighthouse, developed by Spokane architect Don Trail, is illuminated.

1,300-pound marble monument showcasing the artistic traditions of Cagli, Italy

The five-foot-high Kokanee Steel salmon sculpture symbolizes the historical site of the river and the Salish tribes of Native Americans who met and fished at the banks of the Spokane River. It was created by Spokane artist Melissa Cole. 

The Joy of Running Together is a public work of art in honor of the annual Spokane Bloomsday Run. Located near the finish line of the race, and is meant to give encouragement to the runners in their last leg of the race. The work is comprised of 40 life-sized figures, all posed in the motion of running. According to the artist, David Govedare, this was accomplished by having runners pose against a wall, putting a bright light on them, and tracing their exact silhouettes. To Govedare, the most important thing about Bloomsday were all the ages, ethnicities, and nationalities of all of the participants coming together and uniting in a single effort to run the race. Because of this, the runners he chose to trace were of all different ethnicities and nationalities.

Several structures built for the fair are still standing. The United States Pavilion still houses an IMAX theater built after the fair (The original one built for the fair beneath the pavilion was abandoned), as well as a winter ice rink. Plans are being made, however, for a new design for the pavilion that will eliminate the IMAX theater. The Washington State Pavilion still stands and is used as the Spokane Convention Center and the First Interstate Center for the Arts. [31][32] An additional six structures, including the Republic of China Pavilion, were moved 150 miles south to Walla Walla where they were re-purposed to be used as classrooms and a performing arts theater for the Walla Walla Community College.[33]

With the exception of two pavilions, all of the major buildings were modular structures assembled on the site. The fair had 5.6 million visitors[3] and was considered a success, nearly breaking even, revitalizing the blighted urban core, and pumping an estimated $150 million into the local economy and surrounding region.

In proclaiming itself the first exposition on an environmental theme, Expo ’74 distanced itself from the more techno-centric world’s fairs of the 1960s. The environmental theme was promoted in several high-profile events, such as a symposium on United Nations World Environment Day (June 5) attended by more than 1,200 people including many international representatives, and ECAFE Day for the United Nations Economic Council for Asia and the Far East (June 14) that discussed regional environment issues.[6]

Sacred Heart/Cataldo Mission – Cataldo Idaho

My friend Mindy and I took a drive today (March 6, 2022) to Cataldo Mission, Idaho which is about a 40-minute drive from where we live in Post Falls, Idaho.

When we first arrived we went to the visitor center which is located at the bottom of the hill from the mission. We paid our $7.00 park entrance fee which gave us access to the Mission and the Parish House which is right next to it. We wandered around in the little gift shop and we both ended up only purchasing a few postcards. I like to buy postcards of places I go because the pictures are always just perfect in case mine turn out awful for some reason. We then sat through an 18-minute film that told the story of the Sacred Heart/Cataldo Mission which was very interesting. I really love that places like this have been restored by those who came before us so that we might still be able to enjoy them today.

In the early nineteenth century, the Coeur d’Alene Indians began to hear rumors of men in black robes who possessed special powers. Curiosity about these alleged powers inspired the tribe to invite the “black robes” to live amongst them. Jesuit missionaries arrived in the St. Joe River area in the early 1840s and built the St. Joe Mission in 1842. Due to seasonal flooding, the mission was abandoned and relocated near the Coeur d’Alene River and modern-day Cataldo, Idaho.

Father Antonio Ravalli modeled the mission after the cathedrals of his Italian homeland. Construction began in 1850 and three hundred Coeur d’Alene Indians and two missionaries built the ninety-foot-long, forty-foot-high, and forty-foot-wide building. The construction required creativity due to minimal building supplies. No nails were used, the chandeliers were made from old tin cans, and the walls were built by weaving grass and straw over a framework then solidifying it with river mud, a method known as waddle and daub. The blue coloring of the ceiling wood is not paint but a stain created by pressing local huckleberries into the wood.

When completed in 1853, the Mission of the Sacred Heart became an important stop for westward settlers, miners, traders, and religious seekers. The original goal of the mission was to serve as a reduction community, bringing Indians from nearby communities to one gathering place to focus on religion and the adoption of Jesuit agricultural practices. It also provided supplies and hospitality in this remote part of the West. By the 1870s, the mission and surrounding farm had grown to between eighty and one hundred acres and made full use of the Coeur d’Alene valley for grazing and cultivation.

In 1961 the Mission of the Sacred Heart was designated a National Historic Landmark, and in 1966 was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The mission is the oldest building in the state of Idaho and is now a part of Coeur d’Alene’s Old Mission State Park. The park includes the Mission and the restored Parish house (which was burnt down in 1887), along with two cemeteries, nature trails, and a visitor center.

After the Parish house burnt down, it was rebuilt. It is a two-story building, the upstairs used for sleeping quarters, and the downstairs for daily activities. It contains a smaller chapel, mostly used for daily Mass.

In 1976, a major restoration of the church was chosen as Idaho State’s Bicentennial Project to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.

A misnomer locally is to refer to the whole mission as the “Cataldo” Mission. This term cropped up in the area due to the fame of Father Giuseppe Cataldo, a Sicilian priest born in the village of Terrasini, who spent most of his life in the frontier community and founded Gonzaga University. The nearest town to the mission is Cataldo, Idaho.

The Parish House


Kings Canyon National Park Workamping Season (April 26th-September 22, 2021)

Wow! My 2021 season working at Kings Canyon National Park came to a very unexpected end on September 22, 2021! On September 10th Sequoia National Park, which is our sister park and adjacent to Kings Canyon National Park experienced lighting strikes that started 11 fires, which in the following days grew into two larger fires, and by the end of the first week had emerged into one fire called the KNP Complex Fire.

By September 19th Kings Canyon/Grant Grove and Cedar Grove had closed operations. All guests were discharged and the “Grab and Go” at the restaurant closed at 6 PM.

As my position at Grant Grove was “Cash Auditor” I was tasked with making the last of the cash deposits and preparing our safe funds to be returned to the bank. Things were a bit stressful on Monday taking on that task and I was very grateful for two of my co-workers who worked with me and we were able to complete it after a 10-hour workday. Tuesday was another long day and I was part of the escort to return funds to the bank. Upon my return, I had to finish preparing to exit my RV from my campsite……..I had already spent a couple of evenings packing down my RV and preparing to evacuate within just a couple of days. One of my last steps was to get my tow dolly hooked on to the back of my motorhome. Two of my co-workers with the maintenance department were planning to assist me, but at the last minute there was a main water break in the park and so they were going to be delayed. I proceeded to hook up the dolly on my own. Without going to a lot of detail which would be hard to explain or for anyone to understand it was a bit of a challenge to do, but I finally succeeded. I had just gotten the dolly hitched onto the back of the RV when my co-workers arrived. They proceeded to finish helping me secure the dolly with the safety pin and chain hooks. I drove my car down from our campground to the lodge as that is where I would be bringing my motorhome with the dolly and loading my car onto the dolly. I was given a ride back to my motorhome in the maintenance golf cart. I drove my motorhome to the John Muir Lodge parking lot and we proceeded to load my dolly onto the RV with help from my co-workers Tanya and James. I was going to stay the night in the lodge, but with the main water breaking the fire, sprinklers would not be operational in the lodge so I was going to have to stay in one of the cabins which was a short distance from the lodge and were equipped with portable fire extinguishers. I was planning to move my RV down near the cabin but when I went to start the RV it would not start. By this time it has been a very long, exhausting day and I am really tired and my knees are killing me. I tried a few more times, double-checked that the deadman switch at the back/outside of the RV was on, and still nothing. My boss, Jeff approached my RV to see what was happening. I told him I don’t know, it won’t start. He came into my motorhome and tried to start it as well with no luck. Next Tanaya came and she crawled down on the floor and was looking at the wiring and could not see anything wrong. By this time it’s getting later and everyone who had been standing around at the lodging gabbing was starting to head home. Tanya offered to give Hank and me a ride to the cabin in the golf cart, so I gathered up a few overnight things, the dog, and a water dish for Hank. Tanya told me that my boss, Jeff, and JR, the maintenance supervisor would help me out in the morning and see if they could get my RV going. That night I slept really well as I was so exhausted. The next morning I got a shower and Jeff called about 8:30 AM…..I said good morning and what was the plan. He asked me if I had triple-A? In my head I was saying ” crap, I know where this is heading”. I told him no that I had Good’s Sam. He said well you might want to give them a call and see if they can come up here and get you going because we need to get you out of here and I have no resources to help you out……..everyone has gone to Cedar Grove to wrap up stuff there. I was not happy but I kept my feelings to myself and said okay, all my information is in the RV, so could you can come and get me and my dog in the golf cart and give me a ride to my RV….(.it is not too far of a walk, but with one hand having to be devoted to using a cane because of my bad knee, I had only one hand to carry my clothes bag, Hanks food and water, and Hank on a leash). Jeff told me NO! ……. he said the golf cart was gone and he did not have time……I was totally blown away by his attitude. I was very mad and hurt by his attitude and lack of any compassion and the promise he had made to me just days before to not panice about the fire, that I would be given assistance to get out, but again I said okay I will make my way back to my RV. So Hank and I get to the parking lot where my RV is and what do I see…….3 Kings Canyon trucks, two Kings Canyon SUV cars, and the golf cart. I was pretty livid….I get up in my motorhome and I try to start it a couple times and still nothing. I am then sitting there in my driver’s seat feeling completely defeated when my eyes glance over towards my shifter gears and I see that the shifter is in “Reverse” mode……Uh, nope it’s supposed to be in “Neutral”. I move it to Neutral, give the key a turn and it Whoo Hoo the RV starts. I was so happy and relieved I could have danced to a gig……..Thank you, Lord. I then get on my cell phone and called Jeff to let him know the good news and that I needed to give him my timesheet and keys. He said he was in his office so to just bring them to me…..well the office is not far, it’s next to the maintenance shop where all the Kings Canyon vehicles were. So as I am walking to his office, I run into JR, the maintenance supervisor……..well how about that, the two resources who were supposed to help me that Jeff claimed he had “NO resources” to help me are right there, right there on the property…..Jeff and JR. I was miffed……I still kept my cool…..don’t want to burn my bridges. So I get into Jeff’s office, he was very distracted doing stuff on his computer and barely paying attention to me, but I proceed to give him my timesheet and keys, thanked him for the opportunity to have worked there for the season, and left. I was very upset and distraught over how I had been treated, especially after the compliments I had gotten all season as to what a great worker I was and he wanted to bring me back next season, and then as the impeding fires shut us down and I had to get everything wrapped up with the cash office, Jeff said to me several times not to panic, not to worry, that we had time to get things done and that they would help me with whatever I needed to get my RV out from the campground and get me on my way…..but in the end, he got everything he wanted to be done and then bailed on me and left me to my own devices.

After leaving his office I had to clean and adjust my mirrors and clean my front window. After sitting for 5 months they were pretty dirty and dusty. I doubled checked that everything was put away and buttoned-down, that everything with my car was okay, and tie-downs were snug. I jumped back up in my motorhome, put it in gear, and headed down the mountain. After the last few days of the pressure and the stress, I was never so happy to get off that mountain.

Our restaurant manager had tested positive for COVID so he had been out for 10 days and then unable to return as Kings Canyon shut down operations. When I got to Squaw Valley, I gave him a call to see if he wanted to meet up with me for lunch so I could say goodbye………he lives close by so we met up, had lunch, and visited for about an hour. I proceeded on my way and was going along when it struck me that I really needed to stop and stay somewhere to decompress and regroup as to what I was doing next. A few days prior to us shutting down I had applied for a Cash Ops position with the Grand Canyon that had been open since July. I was looking for my next place to go after the season was to be done on November 1st, not knowing that we would be closing down 6 weeks early because of the fires. Anyway, I remembered a KOA campground in Visalia that I had stayed one night at two years ago when I was coming to Kings Canyon for the first time in 2019. My friend, Chris had been staying there for a few months and she was just getting ready to leave, so I caught her on her last night and we were able to visit and catch up. I liked the park and thought it would be the best place to go so I could make my call to the Grand Canyon and see if that was something that would work out. The person I needed to talk to was Patty White, she had actually been working in the Fresno office for Kings and Sequoia in 2019, but in 2020 they closed the office and she went to the Grand Canyon. I had met Patty a couple times when she came up to Kings Canyon and I sent all my reports to her in the Cash Auditor position, so we knew of each other. I called and talked to her and seemed that she was interested, We talked about the position requirements and she said she would talk to the housing department as to getting me an RV spot. At the time we spoke she knew of the fires and our evacuation. I related to her that I was at an RV park in Visalia and this was a crossroad for me to figure out which direction I was going……..to the Grand Canyon or Washington so I did not have to backtrack. She said she would get back to me in a few days about the position and RV space. Now at the Grand Canyon, I know there are only two places for Staff RV parking, ……Trailer Village which is at the main village where I would be working or out at Desert View which is 25 miles away and has plenty of empty RV spaces. Well, a week and a half goes by and Patty has never called me back. By this time it is a Friday and I have paid up through Sunday at the KOA and it’s costing me money every day I sit waiting. So I gave Patty a call and she informs me that she is out and about in the park and she will get in touch with the housing and call me back by the end of the day. In my mind, I really felt I was not going to hear back from her……..I was feeling the vibe that this was not where I needed to be going and I started realizing why this position has been open since July……..There was no follow-through! There was an option B for me……about the same time I had gotten to Visalia I had gotten a text from a friend/co-worker, Mindy that I used to work with at my job at Kitsap Mental Health Services in Washington. Mindy also left KMHS a couple years ago and had moved to Post Falls, Idaho. Her daughter and boyfriend had been living with her for about a year and a half and they had just boughten a house and were going to be moving out at the end of October, so she reached out to me to see if I was interested in settling down for a while and renting a room from her. I told her that I might very well be interested but was wanting to see if anything was going to come of this Grand Canyon position. As the days ticked on and not hearing from Patty I proceeded to talk with Mindy more about going to Post Falls. My thoughts were also on the fact that one of my goals was to get my knees checked into this winter and my motorhome is needing more repair work. My thoughts have gone many different directions as I very much want to keep traveling and exploring, but also feel that as my knees are deteriorating and doing basic daily tasks is becoming increasingly more difficult and the motorhome is constantly needing repairs that it is time to reassess things. So I decided to take Mindy up on her offer and take the time to take care of my health, my knees, and figure out what I really want to do next.

From Visalia, I headed to the Flying J/Pilot truck stop in Lodi, CA where I was going to be meeting up with my friend Laci. We had planned to eat at Denny’s restaurant but the wait was an hour-long, so we got Subway sandwiches and sat out on the lawn section in our lawn chairs. I was able to park my motorhome right near there and let Hank hang outside with us. The weather was actually nice out and so we chatted and visited for about 4 hours when it was starting to get dark and Laci needed to head back home. I slept in my motorhome that night at the Flying J. The next morning I got fuel and headed down highway 12 and then 113 to Vacaville. My friends Colleen and Bill live there as well as my brother off and on. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get together with Colleen and Bill. My brother was busy with some other commitments and could not meet up with me that day……..He didn’t know I was going to be in town so it was last-minute notice. I went to the local Walmart and stocked up on some grocery shopping and that night I stayed at a rest stop about 40 minutes down the road at Dunnigan Northbound Rest Area near Woodland, CA. The next morning I called Canyon Creek Resort near Winters, WA……it is a membership only campground but my brother mentioned I should check it out because you could stay for two days and 3 nights if you listened to their membership presentation, so I called and headed off to Canyon Creek Resort. I spent the next two days and three nights at Canyon Creek which turned out to be a really nice park just about 8 miles outside Winters in the foothills along the river.

On the day I was to leave my brother came out that morning to visit me…….he took me to breakfast in Winters and then we came back to the campground where he helped me out with a problem I was having with my car dolly and I was having trouble with the door lock on my RV. We both headed out from the campground at the same time and we stopped in winters at the Napa to pick up some extra oil and coolant for the motorhome. From there he went on home and I headed to the Dunnigan Northbound Rest Area again for the night.

The next morning I called a couple of RV parks to stay at for the next week near Sacramento and Folsom. I was going to spend some time seeing my cousin who lived in Sacramento and was hoping to see a couple more friends while I was in the area. I was able to stay two nights at the Placerville KOA park in Shingle Springs, CA. This was also a really nice KOA and I was able to get a space on the end that was large so it was easy to pull in and pull out. I was able to see my cousin on the second day I was there, she came up to the KOA and we took a soak in the hot tub, but unfortunately, it wasn’t really too hot, they were having problems with it, but we hung out in it for about an hour talking and visiting……the water was lukewarm like bathtub water. Afterward, we went back to the motorhome and had some dinner I fixed. Again I was not able to meet up with friends as I had hoped. The next morning I headed to Loomis RV Park in Loomis, CA. This park was okay, but the spots were pretty tight and close together. I had three nights here……the second day I was there my cousin came to pick me up after she got off work and I stayed overnight at her house and the next afternoon I went with her to her grandson’s high school soccer game. Afterward, we stopped and picked up food from Panda Express and she took me back to my motorhome, ate our dinner, and then she headed back home. The next morning I headed out of the Sacramento area and headed towards Redding and finally stopped for the night in Mt Shasta City, CA at the KOA.

The next morning I left the KOA in Mt Shasta City and just past Weed, CA I took highway 97 making my way through Klamath Falls, Oregon up to Bend, Oregon where I stayed just outside the city limits at a Scenic Viewpoint/Rest Area. I had tried to find an RV park to stay in but it was later in the evening and most things were already filled up for the night. The next morning I was back on the road and it wasn’t long and things warmed up as the day got warmer. I continued to travel on Highway 97 all the way to Briggs Junction, Oregon where I caught Highway 84, and then highway 82 to Kennewick, then 395 /90 to the Spokane Valley KOA in Washington. It was after dark when I arrived but found my space at the end of the row I was assigned to, so it was again an easy pull-in and pull-out. This was another very nice KOA campground with lots of trees that were changing colors so it was really beautiful. I stayed at this campground for a week till I touched base with my friend and figured out the arrangements for me to move in and I also had to secure a place to store my motorhome and the car dolly which I was able to accomplish. I moved out of the KOA and got my motorhome to the storage facility on October 31st, 2021. I slept a week on my friend’s couch till her daughter and her boyfriend were finally able to move into their new home on October 29th. I slept my first night in my new room and in a real bed again on October 30th.

Fort Dobbs – Statesville, North Carolina

My son, Bryce, and I were staying at an Airbnb in Statesville, the first part of June 2020. One day we were taking a drive and ran across Fort Dobbs; there are some nature trails you can walk on, a picnic shelter and tables a log cabin visitor center and museum which was closed, and a big open field with a reproduction of the Fort which was also closed due to COVID. Fort Dobbs is operated by the North Carolina Historic Sites and if not for COVID is open year-round where you can take daily tours. Several special events and reenactments are also held here each year. I really enjoy history and there is so much of it here in North Carolina so I enjoy these kinds of things, just wish things had been open.

When the French and Indian War broke out between England and France in 1754, the North American colonies were competing to dominate the continent. Both sides courted indigenous peoples and ultimately dozens of Native American tribes joined the struggle on one side or the other.

When the fighting started, the British colonization of North Carolina was still relatively new, but a major migration of new colonists was underway and starting to fill the edge of the colony with farms and small towns. These new, dispersed homesteads would make easy targets for the French and their allies, so a fortified barracks was completed in 1756 to house a garrison of soldiers.

The troops at Fort Dobbs were not part of the British Army. There were men from the provinces that were recruited, equipped, and paid by their province and served Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs. These North Carolina troops fought as far away as Pennsylvania and New York as well as defended places like Fort Dobbs.

On February 27, 1760, the fort was attacked by a large party of warriors from the Cherokee tribe. The Cherokee who were former British allies were acting in retaliation for the dozens of their people who had been killed by British settlers. By the end of 1761, the British had essentially won the war and only thirty troops remained at the fort. Colonial leaders disbanded the troops and removed all the supplies from the garrison as settlements moved farther west of the fort. The neglected fort was in ruins by 1766. The site was all but forgotten until it was preserved in the early 20th century. Daughters of the American Revolution along with archaeologists determined where the fort stood and unearthed thousands of artifacts and clues about daily life at the site. Using this information, a full-scale reconstruction was started by the Friends of Fort Dobbs. In 1941 construction of a log cabin on the grounds was built to house the exhibits of the many artifacts found at the site, as well as a gift shop.

The fort opened to the public in September of 2019 and is set up as a giant living history exhibit, where visitors can interact with costumed interpreters and experience what life may have been like in the 1750s. 

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Murray’s Mill Historic District, North Carolina (May 31, 2020)

I got out yesterday for a little outing. I went to the Murray Mill Historic District in the rolling countryside of eastern Catawba County along the banks of Balls Creek. Preserved intact are the 1913 mill itself, the 1890s Murray & Minges General Store, the 1880s Wheathouse, which is now used as an exhibit gallery, the 1913 John Murray House that is furnished to the period, and numerous outbuildings. Murray Mill was run by 3 generations of the Murray family who closed their operations in 1967 and has been well preserved and taken care of by the Catawba County Historical Association (CCHA) since 1980 when restorations began. Due to COVID-19, the general store was the only thing open and visitors could only tour the grounds. I would have really liked to have toured the mill and museum they have in the Wheat House.

The center of the historic district is Murray’s Mill which was built and operated by William Murray in 1883. William deeded the property to his two sons John and O.D in 1906. John operated and ran the mill, while O.D ran and operated the general store. In 1913 John replaced his father’s mill with this current two-story structure, adding the 22′ waterwheel rather than the former turbine. In 1938 John’s son, Lloyd raised the dam 6 ft and installed the 28′ waterwheel. I was not able to tour inside because things were closed but apparently inside is the original one-ton French Buhr millstones for grinding corn, as well as the rollers that John installed for grinding wheat into flour. The mill was closed in 1967 when Lloyd Murray shut the doors to bureaucratic red tape and increasing taxes. In 1980 when the CCHA took over to restore the mill the bins still held flour from the day Lloyd closed business. The flour had been preserved in storage bins, each partitioned by tongue & groove sheathing.

View of the mill house from across the street at the General Store. Farmers wishing to use the mill would bring their wheat and John would grind it for them. Farmers typically would not leave with the same product they brought in, instead, they would trade the wheat for some that was previously ground. Farmers did however often wait for their own corn to be ground because each farmer usually had their own preference.

The general store which was operated by one of the brothers O.D. Murray…..The name Minges was added later through marriage. Inside is an antique coca-cola refrigerator and cola in glass bottles, there are old-fashioned toys made by local woodworkers, old-fashioned soaps, sweets, and candies, locally made pottery, and aprons, as well as Murray Mill T-shirts, bags, and magnets. John Murray’s daughter married Frank Minges who is related to the same family who started the Pepsi Bottling Group.

The 1880’s Wheat house is two stories, has a board and batten front door, and six-over-six sash windows was originally used to store extra grain or damp grain. Inside is the original grain hopper and elevator used to move the wheat up to the attic then down a pipe into the mill (the pipe no longer exists). The building is now a museum where on the first floor is an exhibit about local textile making and the Jacob Weaver barn loom. Also on display are architectural elements from historic houses in the county and the legacy of C.H. Lester (1849-1940) the most significant early architect. I really wish things had been opened as I would have loved to have seen these things that were in the buildings.

John Murray’s House, a large bungalow built in 1912 is a beautiful home that sits on the hill.

View from John Murray’s house on the hill looking over the top of the roof of the Wheat House

Lloyd Murray’s house was built in 1935…..Lloyd was the son of John Murray.

View of the mill, pond, and property from Lloyd Murray’s house on the hill. Across from the Mill is the General story on the right behind the trees and where the cars are on the right is William Murray’s house.

Lloyd Murray’s chicken coop

View from the Mill side of the property….Lloyd Murray’s house, the garage, and the white house that was built in 1950 for Lloyd’s son Bill and his wife Mary Sue.

1946 Cottonseed House

William Murray’s house (1880)

The George Huffman House originally located near Conover, Catawba County was moved to the Historic Murrays Mill in 1998. The house was built by George Huffman sometime between 1807-1815. During these years he acquired 415 acres and formed his plantation. Huffman married in 1801 and eventually had 5 sons and 5 daughters. Huffman was elected captain of the 8th company detached from the second Lincoln Regiment at the outbreak of the war of 1812. Only a small number of N.C. troops ever saw active service in the war and there are no known details about Huffman’s wartime experience. Over the years from the censor records Huffman started with one female slave in 1820 and by 1840 from the county tax list he only had 3 slaves and his 415-acre farm was valued at $1,045. Huffman along with two of his sons farmed and Huffman was a wagon maker.

Other miscellaneous pictures from Murray’s Mill Historic District

Bunker Hill Covered Bridge – Claremont, North Carolina

I don’t know why but I really love covered bridges……..maybe it’s the fact there is always so much history behind them and there are not many left. The Bunker Hill Covered Bridge was designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 2001, and the only remaining wooden example of the Improved Lattice Truss patented by General Herman Haupt in 1839 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Haupt was the Chief of Military Railroads for the union army during the Civil War and he was the first to develop this method of truss building. His book in 1851 “General Theory of Bridge Construction,” is one of the earlist American books on bridge engineering.

One of only two original covered bridges in North Carolina, Catawba County Commissioners in 1894 had asked nearby owners of Bunker Hill Farm to build and maintain a bridge that crossed Lyle’s Creek on the old Island Ford Road, a former Native American trail and in 1895 Bunker Hill Covered Bridge was built. To protect its timbers from the weather, workers covered the bridge in 1900 with a ninety-one foot roof, and in 1921, replaced the wooden shingles with a tin roof.  In 1985, the Bolick Family donated the bridge to the Catawba County Historical Association and in 1994 the structure was restored.

The location of the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge played an important role not only in the Civil War but also during the American Revolution. During the Battle of Cowpens in 1781, General Morgan detached 531 British prisoners under the guard of Colonel William Washington’s dragoons and Colonel Charles McDowell over the Island Ford Road—the route where the bridge rests. The men crossed Lyle’s Creek at the Bunker Hill Ford on their way to the Island Ford of the Catawba River, where they were then conveyed to Virginia.

Open only to pedestrians now, you can reach the bridge located about 200 yards down a gravel access road from the parking lot. As you approach Lyle’s Creek, you can’t miss the quaint and rustic looking covered bridge that spans it. With the exception of some minor graffiti on the inside, the bridge is in great shape and is an amazing example of late 19th century engineering and construction.

There are several informational signs and posters that explain all about the bridge, its history, and the unique design that was used as well as why bridges are covered. There is also a small trail that will take you further upstream so that you can get a nice view from afar of the bridge spanning Lyle’s Creek and circles back to the parking lot.

Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is located at 4266 U.S. Highway 70 in Claremont North Carolina. It is easily reached from interstate 40 by taking exit 138 from the North, or exit 135 from the South. From either direction just turn on Highway 70 to continue either north or southbound in the direction you were traveling on the Interstate and you can’t miss it. There is good signage indicating both the bridge and Connor Park where it is located. The grounds of the park are very nicely maintained with plenty of paved parking, picnic tables, and wide well groomed trails.

Hickory and Henry River Village, North Carolina


Hickory is located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Catawba River, along I-40 between Charlotte and Asheville. It has a small town charm and big city amenities.

Hickory’s name comes from a tavern built of logs beneath a huge hickory tree near a stagecoach junction by Henry Robinson during the 1850’s. The spot was known as “Hickory Tavern.” The Town of Hickory Tavern was established in January 1870 by Henry Robinson and “Dolph” Shuford. The name was changed to the Town of Hickory in 1873, and to the City of Hickory in 1889.

Hickory began as a small city whose growth and development moved it from a late nineteenth-century trading center on the Western North Carolina Railroad to a thriving twentieth-century manufacturing center for furniture, hosiery and textiles.

The history and development of Hickory has been divided into five stages of growth. The earliest phase began at the end of the eighteenth century and ended with the outbreak of the Civil War (1769-1860).

The second phase began when the Civil War ended and the city’s population and economy expanded as well as cultural and educational facilities (1861-1900). This second phase lasted until around 1901, when the establishment of the first large-scale furniture plant made permanent changes in the manufacturing business. From 1901 until the onset of World War I in 1917, many furniture factories as well as hosiery and textile mills were built in the city which increased population, service industries and building activity.

During World War I, construction in the city declined but not long after the war there was a large increase in population and housing needs, growth of businesses and manufacturing companies, and an extension of public services. Growth since 1940 to after World War II Hickory continued growing and by 1961 the city had forty-six furniture plants, eight-nine hosiery mills, twenty-seven other manufactures, and a population of 37,000 people. A urban renewal project as well as redevelopment also was occuring during this period of growth. Much of the historic fabric of Hickory’s downtown was removed or drastically altered in the 1960s and 1970s.


As the Central Business District, downtown Hickory is filled with a variety of unique retail shops, restaurants, corporate headquarters, professional offices, and entertainment venues, all in a park-like setting in the heart of Hickory. 

Union Square is an example of maintaining the historic feel of the Square while at the same time modernizing the space to encourage visitors to spend more time in downtown. In November 2018 the City Council approved plans recommended for renovating Union Square. A central pathway connecting two large lawn areas, additional seating areas called garden rooms or parklets, a new public restrooms and multi-purpose shade structure over the parking spaces nearest the store fronts were added.

The day I was in Hickory was in May 2020 and during the panademic. The day was overcast and scattered rain showers so it was pretty quiet at Union Square other than a few people popping in to pick up orders or food curb side. I could picture how it would be on a nice Spring or Summer day to be out shopping, grab some lunch and be able to sit outside by oneself or with family and friends enjoying the day.

An elevated, multi-tiered structure was added for the display of the 210 MM German Howlitzer.

This 210 MM German Howitzer sits on a brick base in a grassy area. In front of the cannon sits a marker with an inscription that details the importance of the cannon and the memorial as a whole. Originally the cannon was placed to honor those from the community who served in World War I. Later, it was rededicated to honor all veterans from the area who served their country. The rededication of the cannon is noted on a metal plaque that is in the bottom right corner of the marker.




First Presbyterian Church

Built in 1905-1906 this church is the most outstanding example of the Romanesque Revival style in Catawba County. The granite church is complemented by the 1928 three-story granite education building of Romanesque Revival influence and the modern two-story granite education building erected in 1957. Originally the church was to have been faced with brick, but the building committee decided in May of 1905 that “Belgian Block Veneer”, a specific face cut of granite, should be used instead. The Church was completed at a cost of $14,060 and was dedicated on December 2, 1906. The exterior of the church remains virtually unaltered from its original appearance. Its medieval Romanesque character is emphasized by the rough stonework, the steeply pitched roof lines, the corner tower, and the round-arched openings.


Located about an hour east of Asheville along I-40 and 10 minutes from Hickory, North Carolina, this was a interesting place to visit and after touring the place I can see why it was a good location for the setting of Katniss’ home of District 12 in the movie “The Hunger Games” in 2011. My visit here was a few months after the onset of COVID-19 so the first thing all guests had to do was sign a disclaimer of any liability to the owners. The owner, Calvin Reyes and his family purchased the 72-acre village in the fall of 2017. Their plans are to renovate the homes into vacation rentals and open a restaurant in the former store. I met Calvin while I was there and talked with him bit about the property and their plans, he loves to share the history of the village with visitors. I think it is awesome he is saving not only the buildings but also the stories of residents that lived and worked there. Items found in the homes are also being collected for the on-site museum in house 16, which is where the tour takes place and the filming occurred as the home of Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games

The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia.

Guests were then free to wander on their own and check out the rest of the property. I peered in a few of the cabin windows and got a few pictures of the inside. Most are not safe to enter due to collasping roofs, porches and floors. This place was interesting as I mentioned, but its also kinda of eerie.

The village Company Store served as Mellark’s Bakery in The Hunger Games. They filmed for nine days in Henry River. One of the mill houses was sacrificed during an explosion for the movie. Plans are to transform the store into a restauant that will feature recipes from the village!

Henry River History

The Henry River Mill Village is a prime example of a typical textile mill village in the Carolinas. Originally erected in 1905, The Henry Mill Village was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 9, 2019.

In 1904 Michael Erastus Rudisill laid out the mill and village on 1500 acres. The location was chosen for its hydropower potential. The Aderholdt and Rudisill families partnered together to establish the Henry River Manufacturing Company, which was a cotton yarn manufacture that opened it’s doors in 1905. The company built a planned community with 35 worker houses, a two-story boarding hourse, a bridge, a brick company store, a power prouducing dam, and the original 3 story mill building where the yarn was produced. Until 1914, all operations were fully powered by waterpower. Later this was converted to steam power and electricity as technology advanced and upgrades were made to increase production. By 1963, the company had tripled its initial production from 1905 from 4,000 yarn-making spindles to 12,000 spindles and produced fine combed yarn for lace. Due to economic pressures from overseas, the textile industry had begun a downward spiral until the mill ceased operation shortly after. The mill was closed for several years and was purchased in 1976 by Wade R. Sheppard. In 1977 the main mill building burned to the ground along with the equipment and materials that were stored in the building. The centerpiece of the village today is the two-story brick company store building. This building served as a mill office with the upper floor used as a school room and for church services from 1907-1917.

History tells us that one would have thought this was the end of Henry River Mill Village, but it wasn’t, the community still prevailed. Many former residents of the Village remember the last native moving out in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. That’s something that may be difficult to comprehend, since the village still has no running water, and no sewer system. Henry River is an example of history that seems so distant, yet it can still be seen, touched and heard with our own eyes and ears.

While stories vary in detail from one village resident to another, the one consistent theme is “Community”. Throughout the entire history of the Henry River Mill Village, there is story after story, example after example, of Village residents coming together in a time of need to help one another.  Henry River was more than a group of workers that happened to live in the same neighborhood, raising their families, and minding their own business. Instead, Henry River became a large family, a village network, that valued the strengths they had as a community over the strengths they had as individuals.


I was googling on the internet one day and was wondering if in the past year if the owners had been able to start realizing the dream they had for this place and found that you can now stay in the fully renovated 1905 mill house #12 with pieces, fixtures and details that reflect the era. The house is divided into 2 units that each include a queen bed, two twin beds, a kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator, and two full bathrooms.

Road Trip – Asheville, North Carolina (May 2-3, 2020)

As I drove into Asheville, I immediately came upon Pack Square Park and right off loved the park setting. I was anxious to explore as I knew from my research that there was much history and historic buildings here. Due to COVID it was very quiet with not many people out and plenty of parking so I could park close to things I wanted to see and do. This historic public square has been a central focal point since the city’s creation in 1797, and lays at the intersection of ancient trading paths. It’s named after lumber baron and philanthropist, George W. Pack who donated the land to the county that allowed the old courthouse to be removed from the square and a new courthouse to be built. Pack’s offer required the county to dedicate the historic square as a public park forever. This park was renamed Pack Square in 1903. The park that is here today was a project established in 2000, which was to design and build a 6.5-acre park that opened in 2009. The park has a large open green space on a grassy slope overlooking the main stage, three water features including a splash fountain and original art by local artists.  

Pack Square Park is a really beautiful park inside the city with very unique historic buildings and a beautiful Veterans Memorial. I loved the outdoor amphitheatre and the art work in the surrounding brick work. I could picture people on summer days sitting on the lawn enjoying summer concerts and kids playing in the water fountain on hot, humid summer days.

Asheville’s City Hall

Asheville’s City Hall building was designed by Douglas Ellington in 1926, an architect who came to Asheville in the mid-1920s. The building is a colorful, massive and electric Art Deco masterpiece that is a 8-story building, which was completed in 1928. Originally the project was propsed as part of a joint city-county plaza development, city hall represents the progressive aspirations of the city in the 1920s.

Ellington designed other landmark buildings in Asheville which include the First Baptist Church, Asheville High School, and the S&W Cafeteria. Ellington stated that the design was “an evoultion of the desire that the contours of the building should reflect the mountain background” referring to the amazing scenery that surrounds Asheville and serves as the backdrop of City Hall.

The basic design of the building follows the Classical Architecture principle called “The Rule of Three” or “tripartite organization”. Vertically, City Hall is divided into three parts to represent the three parts of a classical column. The lowest floors which are clad in marble represent a column’s base, the middle floors, mostly done in brick represent the shaft, and then the seventh floor cornice represents a columns capital. This tripartite vertical division had been being utilized by modern architects since the invention (in the late nineteenth-century) with the skyscraper.

The “rule of three” was extended to the lower floor where there are three arched openings into the entrance, and on the second floor by three windows, each surrounded by marble columns and pediments. The name plate above the main entrance and steps to the entrace are also marble.

The unusual octagonal roof is covered with bands of elonagated triangular terra cotta red tiles. Between the two levels of roof are angular pink “Georgia” marble piers between which are precise vertical rows of ornamental green & old feather motifs.

Ellington viewed architecture as a “Fine Art”, and sought to integrate the Fine Arts into his design. He was also a proficient watercolor artist and ornamented his buildings with geometric and natural sculptured ornamentation with a striking use of color. He used naturally colored materials such as brick and stone to achieve the desired colors, highlighted with brightly colored tile and art glass. The main entrance to the building is a groin-valuted loggia, that is beautiful in detail and color. The vaulting and upper walls are covered in colorful mosiac tiles and there are two carved marble crests of the City Seal which are above the north and south entrance doors.

In place of ancient sphinx guarding the entrance, Ellington designed, at the north and south ends on the exterior of the loggia, monumental Art Deco lanterns set on plain marble bases. The copper and art glass lanterns suggest the feathers of an arrow.

Due to COVID-19 the building was not open and so I was not able to go in……my research from google is that the interior of the building is designed in typical 1920s office building-the central core contains the public elevators and an enclosed staircase with offices lie along the perimeter of each floor. The second floor houses the City Managers office and City Council Chambers, both decorated in Neo-Georgian fashion. The interior of the council chambers features murals that portray the story of the American Indians and early white settlers in the area. City Hall has changed little since the 1920s. The building captivates residents and vistors till to this day with its bold and colorful style. I myself thought it was amazing and beautiful building.


Asheville’s courthouse was completed in 1928 and is one of the most extravagent courthouses in North Carolina. In 1792, after its founding, Buncombe County built its first courthouse in what was then known as Morristown, renamed Asheville in 1797. Several log and brick courthouses were constructed during the 19th century, but by 1923, with the rapid growth of the county and Asheville, county court officials decided that a new courthouse was “imperative and essential.” The Washington, D.C. firm of Milburn, Heister & Company was chosen to design the new courthouse in December 1926. The firm had a national reputation for quality work in public buildings across the southeast.

The Courthouse was Milburn’s most opulently finished public building. The building’s complex setbacks, window groupings and overlay of Neo-Classical Revival ornamentation resulted in a distinctive building from this period, when courthouses were normally characterized by simple massing and conservative classical elements. Again due to COVID-19 I was unable to go into the building so I turned to the internet for more information……..The interior lobby has a sweeping marble staircase, bronze and glass screens, a coffered ceiling with ornate plasterwork and a mosaic tile floor that echoes the ceiling’s tones. The lobby is one of the best-preserved and most elegant Neo-Classical interiors in the state.

The new courthouse was initially estimated at $1,000,000, but the final cost ran closer to $1,750,000, and the removal of the old courthouse required another $65,000. Upon completion in 1928, the 17-story building was the tallest local government building in North Carolina.


As I mentioned there is also a beautiful granite Veterans Memorial in Pack Square Park.

The memorial’s main feature is a bronze statue of a woman seated on a granite bench with letters to the “homeland” on her lap. The sculptor Jodi Hollnagel-Jubran was inspired by her own mother and thought it fitting to have a mother figure as the central point in the memorial to veterans, “because we all have mothers.”

On the outside entrance is written: WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA / VETERANS’ MEMORIAL



Before the Europeans arrived in what is now North Carolina, the land around Asheville was a part of the Cherokee nation.  After the American Revolution, Colonel Samuel Davidson and his family received a land grant from the state of North Carolina to settle in the Swannanoa Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This early settlement in 1785 paved the way for the future of what would become the city of Asheville.

In 1792, Buncombe County was established with a city called “Morristown” as its county seat. In 1797, that city was renamed Asheville after North Carolina Governor Samuel Ashe

As a city in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville was an outpost in 1797. Frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett traveled through here in those days…..this area was a crossroad of Indian trails on a plateau surrounded by mountains and rivers on all sides. When the railroad arrived in 1880, it transformed Asheville and Buncombe County into a resort and therapeutic health center. Asheville became a destination for visitors who were looking for a mountain escape and the population of permanent residents increased to 10,000 by 1890.

As Asheville began to grow in the 1880s, it drew visionaries, poets and explorers. Among the most notable was George W. Vanderbilt, he came to Asheville in the late 1880s and bought 120,000 acres to build his grand estate on, “The Biltmore”. Construction took six years to complete. He hired a landscape architect to design the grounds and gardens, and a architect to help him plan the house. The Biltmore Estate has withstood the test of time and remains America’s Largest Home.

Author, Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville in 1900 and grew up in his mother’s boardinghouse, known as “Dixieland.” Wolfe is one of the giants of American literature, and Asheville is the backdrop for his autobiographical novel, “Look Homeward, Angel.” The boarding house where he grew up is still preserved in downtown Asheville.

There are many styles of architecture throughout the streets of Asheville. Asheville was called the “Paris of the South” in the early 1900s for establishing itself as an artisan city with unique style and architectural talent. In the 1920s Asheville grew as an urban center of government, commerce and tourism, more than 65 buildings were built in downton Asheville during the 1920s. The Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s hit Asheville hard, Western North Carolina’s largest bank, the Central Bank Trust Company, folded. Fortunes vanished, families lost their homes, and the city soon defaulted on its overwhelming debts. Rather than filing bankruptcy, the City of Asheville chose to pay off its debt, taking nearly 50 years to accomplish. Investment in new construction stopped. The absence of building activity in Asheville had the effect of preserving several buildings from the wrecking ball, allowing so many of these buildings to survive.

Basilica of St Lawrence

As I continued to drive around the city of Asheville I ran across this beautiful church, The Basilica of St Lawrence…….I really love these old churches with their amazing architecture and how well they are built to with stand years of time. I was not able to go inside, so the pictures from inside I have inclued here are from the internet, but I was able to walk the grounds and admire the architecture and craftsmanship. I don’t know if any of my readers are interested in the history and details, but I find it interesting and I don’t know a lot about the Catholic churches and the words they use to describe the various rooms and alters so I have used words that I am familiar with to narrate through the information that I have read or learned to try and make it user friendly. I also try to keep the information short so it’s not to boring, but still give at least some information and history. 

So what is a Basilica? I was curious to know as well……The title dates back to the early Greek and Roman times and referred to a type of public building. In the 4th century, Basilicas began to be used as places of worship. It was during this time that construction of the greatest Basilicas of Rome was started. Today, the term Basilica is a special designation given by the Holy Father to certain churches because of their antiquity, dignity, historical importance or significance as a place of worship. At the time of the designation of St. Lawrence (April 1993) there were only 33 other Basilicas in the United States. For a church to be considered a Basilica it had to meet a number of required elements which I won’t list or go into, but one of the requirments was that it should have special significance in the diocese. St Lawrence, with its unique dome, is the only church designed and built by the renowned Rafael Guastavino; and is considered the mother church of Western North Carolina.

St. Lawrence was completed in 1909 and is one of Asheville’s architectural treasures. Designed by Rafael Gustavino and Richard Sharpe Smith, who were renowned architects on the Biltmore House, this Catholic church has the largest freestanding elliptical dome in the country. The exterior style is Spanish Renaissance. The central figure on the main façade is that of St. Lawrence holding in one hand a palm frond and in the other a gridiron, the instrument of his torture. On the left of St. Lawrence is the statue of St. Stephen, the first martyr, and like St. Lawrence, a deacon. To the right is the statue of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a native of Spain as was St. Lawrence. The lunette over the main entrance is in polychrome terra cotta and represents Christ giving Peter the keys and appointing him head of the church. Immediately below this lunette is a stained glass window displaying the Basilica of St. Lawrence Coat of Arms.

The massive stone foundations and the solid brick super structure give silent testimony to the architect’s desire to build an edifice that would endure for generations. There are no beams of wood or steel in the entire structure; all walls, floors, ceilings and pillars are of tile or other masonry materials. The roof is of tile with a copper covering.

As I had mentioned I was not able to go inside and so much wish I had been able to, so these pictures and information are from the internet. When entering you can easily see the solidity of the structure. The steps to the organ have no wood or nails. The stained glass window to the right is Bishop Haid’s coat of arms and the one to the left is the coat of arms of Pope St. Pius X.

From the start of the main aisle inside the church, one can realize the beauty of the ellipse and the wonder of the dome. It has a clear span of 58 x 82 feet and is said to be the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America. The four statues in the wall niches are from the Daprato Statuary Company, Italy. On the left, St. Cecilia and St. Peter; on the right, St. Rose of Lima and St. Patrick.

The Main Alter and the Crucifixion table is the main focus of this room. This grouping is rare and a fine example of Spanish wood carving of the middle seventeenth century, and represents Mary, the Mother Jesus, and St. John, at the Crucifixion. The fresco of the Last Supper and the flanking square panels made up the lower facade of the main altar until 1968. At that time they were separated from the base of the altar, moved forward and topped with a 1,800-pound block of Tennessee marble to form a new altar table.

The ornamental partitions that fill the entire wall above the altar are made of polychrome terra cotta. Two archangels, St. Raphael (with the fish in his right hand and a sword in his left) and St. Michael (grasping a sword in both hands), stand on either side of the altar. To the left of St. Michael are the evangelists Matthew and Mark; to the right of St. Raphael-Luke and John. The figures are more than seven feet high; the partitions on each side measure 11 feet by 18 feet in length.


Asheville has a self-guided tour called the Asheville Urban Trail which is a 1.7 mile walking tour through the streets of downtown. Asheville’s history is told through 30 stops, each with public sculputures landmarks. The trail highlights five distinct time periods that are indicated by pink granite markers in the sidewalk; the feather represents the Gilded Age, the horseshoe represents the Frontier Period, an angel for the Times of Thomas Wolfe, the courthouse for the Era of Civic Pride and an eagle for the Age of Diversity. I did not walk the tour but did run across some of the stops as I made my way driving around town.

Station #2 – Crossroads

This sculpture represents a bed of a road (The Buncombe Turnpike) that was once traveled by Native Americans and later, by drovers who herded livestock across the mountains from Tennessee to southern markets, taking turkeys, pigs and cows as far as Charleston. The embedded rails (former Asheville Trolley tracks) represent the coming of the railroad (1880) and the electric trolley (1889).

Station #26 – Past and Promise

This sculpture of a girl in bronze drinking at a fountain represents a simple moment, and one of the trails most cherished stations called “childhood.” She represents both the promise of youth and the reminiscence of times past when children came to play in Pack Square; the freedom of discovery and the promise of accomplishemnt comfortably bound together.

Station #25 – Ellington’s Dream

This granite etching portrays Douglas Ellington’s original working concept of two art deco buildings of government, sitting side by side. Only one followed the plan – the intricately layered city building on the right, controversial at the time. Feather ornamentation throughout the structure honors the history of the Cherokee indians in these mountains.

First Baptist Church

The First Baptist Church was dedicated on March 6, 1927, and was another of Douglas Ellingtons designs. He incorporated traditional Beaux-Arts, the early form of Christian church architecture, and fashionable modern Art Deco details in the new church. This building was the fifth house of worship for the First Baptist Church since its organization in 1829. Membership grew from 37 in 1874 to approximately 1,500 in early the 1920s. The new church provided seating for 2,000 in the main sanctuary and space for another 3,000 in the surrounding educational buildings.

A slightly bellcast dome capped by a copper cupola sits atop the octagonal main auditorium and a full height hectacstyle portico greets visitors at the entrance. Although the outward form of the church is generally Neoclassical, the decorative patterns and surface ornament reflect the Art Deco style, which became popular in the 1920s. The primary exterior materials, brick and marble, are composed in a variety of patterns and low relief planes that enrich the wall surfaces with variations of texture and color. Terra cotta molding forms alternating bands of chevrons and nail head designs, while geometric star patterns set in low relief panels accentuate the entrance doors. The large, open sanctuary is richly detailed with geometric stars, stylized floral and feather motifs, diamond-shaped panels and abstract diagonal fretwork.


Since the mid-19th century, Church Street has been home to a number of congregations. The Central United Methodist Church met in a frame building beginning in 1837, but the current building was not erected until 1902. Designed by Richard H. Hunt of Tennessee and built by James Madison Westall, the imposing limestone church presents Romanesque Revival style massing and forms, but the detailing more closely reflects the Gothic Revival style. A five-bay loggia, set between two pinnacled towers, fronts the large, gable-roofed auditorium. A Sunday School was added and ready for use in 1904 and the first service was held in the auditorium on November 5, 1905. In 1924 a renovation and expansion (costing more that $200,000) included a larger Sunday school additon.


Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a redbrick late Victorian Gothic church, is home to one of Asheville’s largest congreations of African Americans. In the spring of 1880, a new African American Baptist church was established in Asheville, nine blocks west of the current church. Shortly after the church was established a revival was held. At the time the members had not decided on a name for the church, so when the Reverend came to conduct the revival he decided to call this church Mt Zion because he had never known a Mt Zion that did not thrive.

In 1919 a new Mt Zion church was built in its current location. The church is two and one-half stories from the stone foundation to a tin-shingled roof where three towers are topped by ornamental sheet-metal finials. There are large Art Glass windows that ornament the towers walls. The massive church has a cornerstone that reads, “Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Rebuilt 1919, Reverend J.R. Nelson, Pastor,” reflecting the building’s long history and importance to the community.

Vance Moument

Zebulon Baird Vance was Governor of North Carolina during the American Civil War and a United States Senator from 1880 until his death in 1894. He also lived in Asheville. George Willis Pack donated $2000, or two-thirds of the cost towards the design and construction of the monument. Originally, only the word “Vance” appeared on each side. Construction of the 65-foot obelisk honoring him began December 22, 1897, with a band playing “Dixie” as the cornerstone was laid. The location of the obelisk was present-day Pack Square, on land owned by the city of Asheville. The inscription on the plaque read:

MAY 13, 1830 — APRIL 14, 1894

Places like the Vance mounment have been controversial particulary in light of today’s events and the history of slavery in the United States. Zebulon Vance’s family owned slaves and he was a product of the times. During the “Reconstruction era” he opposed allowing African Americans to have equal rights. Vance is also known for and often praised for his famous speech, “The Scattered Nation,” where he calls on society to demonstrate compassion and tolerance for Jews.

Zebulon Vance’s leadership helped the people of North Carolina survive after the Civil War ended. His role as governor and then in the senate helped North Carolina continue to thrive and flourish.

The Vance monument is impressive with its towering height, as an obelisk it was modeled after Egyptian obelisks and the most famous U.S. obelisk, the Washington mounument. The Vance obelisk is constructed of rough cut stones unlike the smooth separate blocks of the Washington monument. Zeb Vance was a 33rd degree Freemason and there are 33 rows in this monument.

Update 2021

Vance Monument is now gone as of May 2021. After standing tall for more than 120 years, the Vance monument has been taken down, stone by stone. The Monument had stood in the middle of downtown Asheville since 1897. The city council voted to remove the obelisk in March 2021, following the recommendation of the Vance Monument task force. The task force was created in June 2020. From there, appointed members discussed the monument’s fate for weeks before deciding removing it was the best course of action. Then in March, the final say from city council came down. Demolition began May 18, 2021 and was completed except for the pedestal by May 30, 2021.

Jackson Building, Downtown Asheville

The ornate Jackson Building is the most beloved skyscraper in Downtown Asheville. The 13-story Neo-Gothic style skyscraper was completed in 1924, the first skyscraper in western North Carolina. It was also the tallest skyscraper in all of North Carolina!

Real estate developer L. B. Jackson commissioned the Neo-Gothic style skyscraper to promote his faith in the continued strength of the 1920s local real estate market. Fitted with a searchlight to draw tourists to the city, the Jackson Building has been a visual landmark since its completion.

The Jackson Building was constructed on a tiny 27 by 60 foot lot that many believed to be too small to build on. This steel-framed brick and terra-cotta structure is adorned with dramatic stone gargoyles near the top. In its early days, one of the buildings most unusual uses was as a “clean-air lookout”. Many of Asheville’s buildings were heated with coal, and every morning the city inspector stood at the top of the Jackson Building to watch for excessive smoke as building furnaces started up. If heavy smoke persisted for more than 5 minutes a citation to clean the furnace was issued.

Asheville High School

When I first gazed up on this building I thought it was the most amazing, beautiful building I had ever seen for a high school. I have always admired the craftsmenship and beautiful designs and materials that the early archictects put into their buildings.

After the railroad reached Asheville in 1881, the population grew from 2,000 to 10,000, so due to the increase in population, Asheville began a public school system in 1888. The new public school system developed and grew over the years until in 1926 when the school board agreed that a “large, central high school” was needed. A committe was formed to locate a suitable location and out of seven architect proposals Douglas D. Ellington (Ellington is also the architect who designed Asheville City Hall) was selected by a majority vote. With a cost of $1.3 million (18.8 million in 2016 dollars) Asheville high school opened on February 5, 1929. When the Asheville High School opened it had a wide variety of vocation programs including automotive mechanics, a full print shop (all yearbooks, newspapers, and magazines were printed on campus), mechanical drawing and photography, including a dark room. When the stock market crashed in September 1929 some schools were forced to close and the city’s economics hit rock bottom. For a time Asheville High School was closed and students were moved to David Millard and Hall Fletcher which were two structures built in the early 1920’s which formed what was the former Asheville High School. In 1949, another vocational facility (known today as the ROTC building) was built by students in the vocational program, as a real world example of construction. In the early 1970’s a media center addition was added to the main building. In 1973, a new gym and atheltic facility was added to the old vocational building. In the early 1990’s, a $3.5 million cultural arts building was built. In 2006, a new $3.1 million cafeterial was added to the campus. In 2016 the city identified $25 million in needed repairs. The biggest problem was the roof, with thousands of clay tiles which would all have to be removed (an possibly replaced afterwards). The executive director of the Preservation Society of Ashville, called the building “a master work of Ellington.”


Pack’s Tavern is a modern tavern in a historic/vintage building with over 35 rotating taps, live music and food that sits in the heart of downtown Asheville’s Pack Square Park. Pack’s Tavern has quite the history……the historic Hayes & Hopson building has served the local community for many years. The building was built in 1907 by a local lumber supply company and remains one of the oldest buildings in Asheville. As the demand for lumber grew, the supply company built an additional building to the north. Erected in 1912, this same building is the location for the main restaurant and bar area. The second-floor is an event center, called the Century Room. In its early years it is rumored that the Hayes & Hopson building operated an illegal liquor distribution hub that served most of Western North Carolina during the 1920’s. When Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, the story goes that a lucrative distribution center for moonshine was established in the basement. Using the lumber supply as it’s front, its “load dock” on the side of the building and a underground passageway enabled the business to thrive. For the next 12 years, large quantities of while lightening were coming and going. Historians say the tunnel or passageway lead directly to the police station right across the street…..the cops were some of the biggest boatleggers……..”The police would raid a still or a barrom and take all illegal liquor dowstairs to what would be the evidence room, impound it, and smuggle it through the passageway to the lumber company, never to be seen again.”

In 1932, the Democratic Party promised, if elected to repeal Prohibition. Nine days after Franklin Roosevelt took office in January 1933, the sale of beer was legalized. Prohibition was fully repealed in December of that year with the ratification of the 21st amendment……the theme of Pack’s Tavern is 1932 – a tribute to the beginning of the end of Prohibition. Taking great care in the design and renovation of what is now Pack’s Tavern, the owners won a prestigious “Griffin Award” for period restoration to the post-Prohibition Era. The 1932 A Ford Truck called “Pack’s Yellow Truck”, has become one of the most photographed icons in downtown Asheville.


The Asheville Fire Department was formally organized in 1882. After a fatal fire on Vance Street, a group of citizens demanded action from town officials. A hand truck and equipment were purchased and the volunteer Hook and Ladder Company #1 was born. Two years later, Hose Company #1 was formed, also hand-drawn.

The Municipal Building/Headquarters directly across the street from Pack’s Tavern at 10 Court Plaza officially opened on March 8, 1926. Over 15,000 people attended the ceremonies at the $100,000 structure. The building housed the fire and police departments, a police court, a city jail, and the City Market in the rear. The fire station first housed four fire companies, two engines, an aerial ladder, and a service ladder. The living areas included dormitories (with 28 beds), reading rooms, a club room, and a kitchen.

In the late 1930s, the City Market relocated to another location, and in 1941, the fire department expanded into part of the old market. Personnel built a maintenance garage with a vehicle entrance on the Market Street side of the structure. By 1956, the remaining old market area was used by the county welfare department.

The interior of the Municipal Building was extensively remodeled beginning in 1998 and completed in 2000. The $11 million project expanded and improved facilities for both the fire and police departments. The emergency communications center was also moved from its basement location to the third floor.

Road Trip – Shelby, North Carolina (May 2-3, 2020)

I had booked a really nice Airbnb room from a older woman named Mirna in a nice housing subdivision for a month in Dallas, North Carolina, a little town outside Gastonia. She was originally from Hondorus and came to the United States as a young girl at the age of 13. Her husband passed away a few years prior and so she rents out one of the spare rooms for extra income. It was a large room with a King size bed, a chair and foot stool to sit on and my own private bathroom. We shared the kitchen and she gave me a couple of shelves in the fridge to use for my personal food. I also had rented a car for a month, so one of the weekends I was staying there I decided to take a road trip. We were in the midst of the COVID-19 panademic and so many places were closed so about the only thing I could do was siteseeing in nature and viewing places from outside among some of the towns I passed through.

One of the things I have really enjoyed about North Carolina is the history. So I hope you won’t be too bored but as I made this trip and passed through several small towns with all their history, which was and is the making of our great country I am sharing what I saw and learned with……. you my readers.

I left Dallas, North Carolina traveling on Hwy 74 to the town of Shelby…………In 1841, Cleveland County was named for Colonel Benjamin Cleveland who was a Revolutionary War hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. In 1842, the county seat was established and named after Colonel Isaac Shelby who was also a war hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. James Love and William Forbes donated land for the city. James Love had visited Washington D.C., and liked the design with the wide streets. He asked the city planners to adapt the same ideas for Shelby. Shelby’s main streets are named for Revolutionary War heroes. Shelby was home to several important political leaders in the first half of the 20th century. A powerful group know as “The Shelby Dynasty” that included two brothers James and Edwin Yates Webb, Oits Mull, Max Gardner who was elected to governor in 1928 and Clyde R. Hoey also elected governor in 1936. Shelby is also the birthplace of country music legends Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson.

James L. Webb began his career in government as a state Senator, then in 1882, he served as District Solicitor, and in 1894 was appointed as a Superior Court Judge. Edwin Yates Webb, James’s younger brother, served in the State General Assembly and then moved to Washington, D.C. were he served as Congressman for North Carolina’s Ninth District for 26 years. He became Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and his legislative efforts included helping draft the constitutional amendment for prohibition, introduced the bill to charter the Boy Scouts of America, promoting regulations for food and drugs and co-authoring an antitrust bill. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Edwin Webb as a Federal Judge. He served in that capacity for 28 years.

Although Otis Mull did not hold any major public office like the others did, he was still an influential figure in state politics. He served six terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives–one as speaker of the North Carolina House–and he was Chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee for six years.

The Webbley House

Shelby has a rich historical district and is home to one of the most historical residences in the state. Webbley, also known as the O. Max Gardner House, was built sometime around 1852 to 1855. The original house was two-stories and is an example of the grandeur and grace of the old south’s architecture. Augustus W. Burton was the builder and original owner of the house. He sold it shortly thereafter and it changed ownership many times over the next 50 years. In 1905 J.A. Anthony a prominent local attorney bought the house and along with his wife, Ollie Gardner Anthony, did a drastic renovation to the house. The Colonial Revival drastically changed the appearance of the house to what it looks like today. They also added on to the house increasing its size from the original construction done in the 1850s. Anthony’s brother in-law and business partner was Oliver Maxwell Gardner, who had married into the politically influential Webb family. Gardner not only was a lawyer but he also owned a farm. Gardner’s father-in-law, Judge James L. Webb bought the house from Anthony. He moved his family and the Gardners in, and the locals quickly started calling the house Webbley. Webbley remained in the family and in 1993 O. Max Gardner III and his wife, Victoria Harwell Gardner, turned the home into a bed and breakfast with a political theme. The Inn at Webbly was one of the nation’s finest inns, but closed in 1998 due to an illness in the family which made operation of the inn difficult and the house was converted back to private use. Another interesting fact is that Thomas Dixon used Webbley as inspiration in his 1905 novel, The Clansman. The home was also used as a real life model in the movie based on the novel, Birth of a Nation in 1915.

When I visited it was not open to visit so I could only view from the outside and walk around the property. It appeared to me that no one lived there and was in need of some fixing up as it was looking a bit dilapidated.


The centerpiece of Shelby is the Cleveland County Courthouse, with its Neo-Classsical Revival design in a park-like setting was built in 1907 at the cost of $75,000. The North Carolina General Assembly created Cleveland County from parts of Rutherford and Lincoln counties in 1841. Before the first courthouse was built, court was held on the second floor of Williams Weather’s home southwest of Shelby. Courthouse Square became the site of the county government once the first courthouse, a log building, was erected here in 1842. In 1844, a committee was appointed to draft plans for a formal courthouse. A contract was awarded to George Smith to construct a red brick courthouse, that was completed in 1874. This courthouse was then replaced by the limestone building standing on Courthouse Square today. In front of the courthouse, facing Lafayette Street, is the Statue for the Confederate Heroes of Cleveland County dedicated on November 21, 1906. In 1974, the county court moved to the law enforcement center and in 1976 this building became home to the Cleveland County Historical Museum which closed in 2004 and became home to the Earl Scruggs Center in January 2014. The museum focuses on both the life of local musician Earl Scruggs and the music, history and culture of the American South. The museum also hosts concerts and music lectures.

Earl Scruggs Center

January 6, 1927 – March 28, 2012

Earl Scruggs was born in the Flint Hill community of Cleveland County, North Carolina. Here he learned a love for music and perfected the “Scruggs Style,” a distinctive three-finger style of playing the banjo.

Earl’s debut at the Ryman Auditorium led to the birth of Bluegrass and revolutionized the banjo across many musical genres. His work with guitar player Lester Flatt and the Foggy Mountain Boys put Bluegrass in homes all around the world. Later, he formed the Earl Scruggs Revue with his sons, and continued to innovate, push musical boundaries, and reach a new audience of music lovers and fans.

Earl Scruggs left a mark on every project and person he touched throughout his legendary life and career. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, received four Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a National Heritage Fellowship. His legacy continues to influence countless musicians and music fans today.

When I was here so many things were closed because of COVID-19 so I was not able to tour the museum. I really enjoy museums and all the things one can learn from them, so I was bummed that I missed out on this opportutiny. From my research on the internet the museum is full of historical information about Earl Scruggs and the area. It is a simple museum that is a great tribute to a man who had a significant influence on music.

Shelby Cotton Mill

As I was driving around town I came upon this warehouse…..I knew it had to be some manfucaturing plant that had closed down years ago as evidence of overgrowth and vines growing up the walls, and the decay. There were no signs or markers indicating what this building/business used to be. I later was googling the town of Shelby and actually found only one pretty good source that told the story of this cotton mill.

The textile industry in Cleveland County, North Carolina was a major economic asset during the 1900s. The county had over 25 textiles mills and was the leading producer of cotton in the country, with over 80,000 bales in a year. One of the mills was the Shelby Cotton Mill. The first part of the mill was completed in April of 1900.

The first expansion of the mill was added in 1901 to accommodate for the 8,784 ring spindles, 250 broad looms, and 14 carding machines which were required for the rapidly growing industry. This expansion doubled the equipment previously at the mill. Another wing was added to the growing building in 1909.

By 1916, the company had 250 employees. Additional office buildings and other structures behind it were built in 1920. The mill remained one of the largest manufacturers through the early 1920s with materials such as yarn and “pajama check,” a lightwaieght gighman or plaid woven cloth.

The next Shelby Cotton Mill expansion was in 1938. The finishing room was added during the 1950s. Two years prior in 1948, Cleveland County produced 83,549 bales of cotton for the year, turning it into one of North Carolina’s leading textile producers and the premier county for cotton production in the state.

The building was finished in the 1970s, after having gone through more than 15 expansions and renovations. In the 1950s, droughts, insect infestations, and government acreage controls resulted in the decline of cotton as Cleveland County’s primary crop. By 1975, the county was producing a mere 1,934 bales of cotton, compared to the peak of more than 83,000 bales. The decline in cotton was accompanied by a shift away from textile manufacturing in the city as competition from foreign exporters combined with Shelby’s inability to compete with larger, more modern mills. Many of the mills are still standing today, one of which is the Shelby Cotton Mill, but few are still in operation. Cleveland County has remained an agricultural environment supported by cash grains like corn and soybeans. You can still drive through and see cotton fields.

Shelby High School

Shelby High School was built in 1937 with assitance from the Works Progress Administration, a depression-era Federal Relief Program. The school was designed by a local firm of V.M Breeze who designed most of the significient commerical and institutional buildings in Shelby from the 1930’s through WWII. This building served as Shelby High School for almost 25 years. It looks like now it is used for the school district adminstrative offices. Breezes design for the high school was a blend of classical and modern elements. The 2-story building with a concrete basement contains large classrooms on all three levels. Like many schools designed during this time period, the entryway is recessed and flanked by fluted pilasters. A concrete panel above the entrance is inscribed with the initials SHS.

Irvin-Hamrick Log Home

The Irvin-Hamrick log home is located about 10 miles outside of town set back off a two lane country road in the woods. It is easy to miss and I actually did drive past it and had to turn around. The home is a small dwelling of half-dovetail notch construction, a type of building which once thousands of small farmers in Piedmont and Western North Carolina used to build their homes. This log home is a rare surviving example of the type of house most North Carolinianas lived induring the 18th and early 19th centuries, and this is one of the few that has seen consisent maintenance and the hope of continued preservation. The small rectangular gable roof house is built of hewn logs joined with half-doved notches, the dominant corner-timbering method in Western North Carolina for many generations. Weather boards cover the logs in several sections and the the entire house may have been covered at one time. One fireplace warmed the two interior rooms, and a small enclosed stairway that lead to an unfinished attic. James Irvin, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, proably built the house sometime after his purchase of 200 acres along Beauerdam creek in 1794. Irvin married Rebecca Hardin of Lincoln County, and the couple raised 10 children in the tiny house-five boys and five girls, providing for them through land deals and working farms. After Irvins death in 1845, the house and land passed to his children, who sold the property to Cameron Street Hamrick in 1850. Hamrick and his wife, Elmire Bridges raised 6 sons in the house. Hamerick was a disciplinarian who believed his sons should remain in the home until the age of 21 and consquently, the fmaily added to the present frame rear addition sometime after the civil war. All of the Hamericks sons raised large families and their descndants remain in great numbers in the Cleveland County and neighboring areas of the Western Piedmont of North & South Carolina. The house has never left Hamrick ownership. In 1951 it was acquired by the Cameron Street Hamrick Memorial Association, a family organization dedicated to the preservation of the homestead and the maintenance of the adjacent family cemetery. An annual Cameron Street Reunion is held at the house each year, the 4th Sunday in August.

Rogers Theatre

The Rogers Theatre Block has been a center of cultural, social and political activity for Shelby and Cleveland County since its construction in the late 1930s. Named for its original owner, Robert Hamer Rogers, the theater first opened in 1936 showing Love on the Run starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. Built in sections through the early 1940s, the theater’s grey limestone façade exhibits Art Deco details and is the only example of this popular 20th-century architectural style in Shelby. Considered one of North Carolina’s finest historic theaters, it is now an historic building. The theater has been little altered, still retaining its original marquee and a signage mast above which reads “theatre” that was an early addition to the theater. The 1,000-seat theater was constructed with a working vaudeville stage, as this type of traveling entertainment was still very popular in the western part of North Carolina at the time of its construction. Between movies, live acts took the stage. The Rogers Theatre held live performances and showed films well into the 1980s. In the mid-1980s famous North Carolina movie producer Early Owensby used the building to showcase many of his productions. In 1985 Rogers Theatre closed. In 1999 the Rogers Theatre Consortium formed to lead the effort to restore the building and to bring back an important film and performing arts center. The National Trust for Historic Preservation singled out the Rogers Theatre in 2001 when it was included on its “11 Most Endangered Properties” list, as one of the country’s threatened independent movie theaters, and designated the theater as an official project of the “Save America’s Treasures” program. Although there have been groups and moves to restore the theatre, it awaits a new owner who will hopefully one day bring it back to its former glory.

Rogers Theatre when I visited in May 2020

Don Gibson Theatre

Originally known as “The State Theatre”, opened its doors as the area’s most beautiful movie house on October 27th, 1939. The local paper praised it as “one of the most strikingly beautiful building fronts of the modern day”

“The State” was a typical popular small town movie theatre, but in its later years (as The Flick) it encountered the same challenges that befell literally thousands of such film houses around the country. Retail stores moved to the malls along the highway… downtowns dried up, cable TV became a more dominant force in our lives and so many movie theatres went under…..But thanks to a dedicated team of passionate volunteers, a group called Destination Cleveland County was formed just a few years ago and it’s thanks to them this old movie house is coming back to life after having been dark for almost three decades.

The renovated theatre is now the “Don Gibson Theatre”, this 400 seat venue is primarily a very intimate concert hall. Their vision is to bringing the best in touring nationally known acts and musicians who have graced magazine covers, earned Grammy Awards and Gold Albums and “Best of the Year” Awards… people whose CD’s (and albums) you may already have in your collection. They plan to very carefully select the newest up-and-coming acts out of Nashville,d New York and Austin…..acts you may not have heard of yet.

So who is Don Gibson? Don Gibson along with a few others changed the sound of Nashville and country music. Even outside of country music circles several of his songs are instantly recognized by fans and musicians all across the globe, and across almost five decades of music cultural change. Don was one of the most influential forces in the country music industry from the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Many remember Don’s two best known compositions, Sweet Dreams which became one of Patsy Cline’s most biggest hits, and the Ray Charles classic single I Can’t Stop Loving You, both were chart-crossing smash hits that shattered stereotypes.

Don’s third unforgettable country classic, Oh, Lonesome Me original recording was a revolutionary single for its day, as Don and producer Chet Atkins dropped the traditional fiddle and steel guitar for a new and more aggressive sound that featured multiple guitars, a piano, a drummer, upright bass and background singers. Although it doesn’t sound like a radical move today, it was then, and Don and Chet are given credit for having helped what became known as the Nashville Sound. Don’s recording of Oh Lonesome Me hit #1 on the national charts and stayed there for eight weeks, an almost unheard of feat in that era.

Don Gibson was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973, an honor he shares with Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet and Johnny Cash. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

Don Gisbon passed away in 2003, but he left behind a musical legacy that has touched the hearts of millions.

Central United Methodist Church

Central United Methodist Church is the oldest church in Shelby. In 1841 when Cleveland County was formed James Love and his wife Susan gave 147 acres that is now the heart of Shelby. William Forbes who later become a member of the church congregation, gave 50 acres to make up the western section of the city. The two gifts of land provided for schools, a city hall, court square, and a building lot for all recognized denominations – Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist.

By March of 1845, when Cleveland County was just four years old, the 25 member congregation needed a place to meet, so Dr. Thomas Williams, who was a Baptist let the group meet in his office. By summer the group moved into their first church, a one-room wooden structure. By 1878 the congregation had grown larger and needed a bigger meeting house, so the one-room wooden church was sold for $450 to start their funds for a new building. In 1884 their new building was completed but had no plumbing or water as these were not available to the city of Shelby until 1908 which was also when they added Sunday School classrooms. In 1922 the pastor at the time, Rev. Edgar Poovey decided it was time to build a new church after they started to have problems with the furnace and serveral other needed repairs. On January 11, 1925 the building that is standing today held its first sermon in the new building and became know as the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

During the 1930’s, one of Central’s Sunday School classes became widely known throughout the state. Its teacher was Clyde R. Hoey, who later became governor of Noth Carolina. The class membership exceeded 300 men, meeting in the “south pasture” where the present class still meets every Sunday morning as the Hoey Bible Class.

By the late 60’s a new Education Building was badly needed, and work was begun. The new building was dedicated in 1968.

First Baptist Church

I love the old churches and their beautiful architecture intrigues me, so as I was driving around the town of Shelby I happened upon the First Baptist Church. The first organized church began with 25 members on June 19, 1847. The church declined an offer of land from the county and instead paid $300 for the 130 foot square plot of land on North Lafayette Street on which the present church stands today. The first building constructed at this site was a white frame church. The Baptists became the largest and most influential denomination in Shelby. Reverend James Webb, of Shelby’s influential Webb family, was the first pastor. Shelby’s early families–the Loves, Blantons, Webbs and Gardners were all members of the congregation. In 1889, a brick church replaced the originial building, but the congregation soon became unhappy with its poor construction. In April 1904, an additional lot was purchased and the first of several additions were added.

The 1911 Gothic Revival church is the third Baptist church at this site. It is considered the most elaborate church in Shelby. The use of yellow brick for the church was a major change from the red brick that had been used since the 1880s for most of Shelby’s commercial and industrial buildings. It’s Tiffany stained glass windows were bought for $1,300 from George Hardy Payned of Petterson, New Jersey. The church’s three steeples rising from the top towers are prominent architectural features of the building.

Shelby City Hall

Shelby City Hall was constructed in 1939 also with assistance from the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era Federal relief program. This Georgian Revival 15,700-square-foot building was built in three sections, the two-story center section is set at an angle to the corner of East Graham and South Washington streets housed the city offices. Hyphens connected the central section to two one-story wings. The public library was originally located in the wing to the south, while the police and fire departments were housed in the west wing. Distinguishing features of the building include the octagonal cupola with arched openings and dome, and the scrolled pediment with central urn above the main entrance. Interior elements include marble floors, brass handrail, intricate wooden detail ceiling moldings and trim which all reflects the status Shelby enjoyed during this period.

Here are just some other miscellaneous pictures out and around Shelby, North Carolina