Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mountain Magnolia Inn

I do not have to look very hard for the history that lives all around me. It seems in many ways Western North Carolina is the land that time forgot, until now. There is no shortage of historic down towns and old buildings, abandoned, restored or still in use as is.

On occasion an element of a landscape can shout out its place as part of history without the need for a plaque. Today I saw two such trees on the grounds of a restored Victorian house. One was an incredible Magnolia grandiflora with branches held clear to the ground and a diameter spread of about 40 feet.

The other was an Oak. My winter twig and bud ID skills have atrophied a bit, but I was not fooled by this oak trying to pretend it was a Live Oak, Quercus virginiana. If the few leaves I saw on the ground belonged to it, this oak is in the Red Oak group.

Trees do not get this way without a great deal of time and care.

These trees can be found on the grounds of what is now the Mountain Magnolia Inn. Built in 1868 and in the same family until 1988 it has a long history before its present incarnation.

Magnolia grandiflora is native to the south east and will grow well in the lower valleys of Appalachia, but it is not native or indigenous to the mountains of North Carolina. The two very large Magnolias on this property were brought up here and planted by someone a long time ago.

So which came first, the trees or the wallpaper?

Originally the estate was called Rutland by the Rumbough family who built the house as a safe haven during the Civil War. I have a feeling the current owners may have been inspired by the magnificent Magnolia trees on the property they bought in 1997 and a new name and a theme was born.

Major amounts of magnolia wallpaper.

Mrs. Carrie Rumbough still graces the parlor of her home today.

On the way back home I pass through a tiny hamlet with a brand new sign. When it was finished I was pleased to see that it was not a sign for a new gated subdivision. Still it is a sign that things are changing. And I can't help myself, I like this new sign, stone and metal.

After I pass through Trust and rise higher up the valley, the next place before home is Luck.

I live near Trust and Luck.

It takes flowing water to have even a small stream. It takes flowing time for history to form. Like the first European settlers who left their old lives to come here and begin anew, I need a fair amount of trust and luck. They displaced the Cherokee way of life that was here before them and now their old way is being swept aside in the flow of time.

I gave up my old life to come here and build a safe haven. The path to that end has not been as direct or as quick as one could wish. At the moment it feels frozen in place. That feeling I think shows a disrespect for the ebb and flow of time.

A part of my history will eventually grow here, given time.


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Quite a thought provoking post. That inn is a jewel, inside & out. Change is inevitable, the challenge is to preserve the best of the old & integrate the new as seamlessly as possible into a harmonious whole. I think the new sign does that with its use of a new material (steel?) with the old stone. I bet that's why you like it.

Frances said...

I have been to Trust, while visiting a now defunct nursery called Herb 'O Grace, have you or yours ever heard of it? It was such a beautiful spot with a very sad ending. I still have the plants purchased there growing well and strong, a fitting tribute.

bev said...

Excellent post, Christopher. Have you ever considered writing for at least a partial living?!

Christopher C. NC said...

MMGD, I hope to be using those elements, metal and stone in my own entry gate. They give the illusion of permanence and stability.

Frances, I do believe I was at that nursery myself 10 years ago. It is probably the one the resident gardeners told me was for sale a few years ago and I should come buy it. I think I did see the place on one of my trips through Trust recently, but I drive slow and rubberneck, there is so much to see, I did not notice it this time.

Bev, it has been suggested by others quite a few times that I should consider writing for a little money. Maybe one day. Now I practice.

Layanee said...

I think it fortuitous that you live between Trust and Luck! What could be better? Maybe a bit of Harmony should be thrown in! Love the magnolia wallpaper and window!

chuck b. said...

Sorry I somehow missed this post. Sorry, that is, for me.

That is an enormously magnolius wallpaper! Eeek!

Annie in Austin said...

Christopher, they're all good. I've always loved what you wrote, here and on the forum, but there's some new element making the posts electric in effect. Combined with the photos they're stunning.

I pasted a magnolia wallpaper border around the top of a room in our last house - right after we planted our first magnolia. The wall's too much for me but the leaded glass window is lovely.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Christopher C. NC said...

Some new element making an electric effect, Annie? Is my compounding angst showing through my rigidly enforced denial a bit?