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Preservation Society Explores Oteen’s Rustic Log Cabins

By Dasha Morgan- On Saturday, April 13th, Annie McDonald will discuss the Homeland Tourist Park in Oteen and Rustic Revival Log Cabins. This is part of the educational programs offered to members and guests of the Preservation Society of Asheville Buncombe County and will be given at Beverly Hills Baptist Church, 777 Tunnel Road, Asheville, 28805, starting at 1:00 PM.

Homeland Park Cottages, Courtesy of the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library

McDonald is well qualified, having had twenty years in the field of historic preservation, and will undoubtedly give a lively and interesting presentation. She has worked as consulting architectural historian, local government planner, and preservation staff for a regional Council of Governments.

She has served as the preservation specialist for the twenty-five county western region of the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions and, since 2012, preservation specialist for the western regions of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (NC SHPO).

The program will put the unique and rustic architecture of the “whole stripped log” cabins of Homeland Park in the context of Oteen’s development, developing National Parks, the Good Roads movement, and the Crafts Revival Movement. Homeland Park had depression era origins that lasted through the mid-century “hillbilly years.” Its 45 acres were developed by Eugene Gilmore Hester in 1930 as sixty-five furnished cabins and cottages complete with a sizable restaurant, pool, stables and more.

Guests could enjoy hiking trails, picnic grounds and horseback riding. The recreation park on Lake Craig just across the hill offered residents a swimming pool and music/dance venue. Later owners include the “Buncombe County slot machine king,” Vaughn J. Cannon. Today they are private residences and some rentals that authentically reflect the era when vacationers came from far and near to experience the mountains surrounding Asheville. In 1930 the location was well outside the city limits.

Thomas Wolfe stayed at his cabin while writing one of his novels. His friend, Max Whitson, built a log house on his family’s property near Oteen, NC, in 1924 and invited renowned novelist Wolfe, his childhood friend and classmate from the University of North Carolina, to stay in the cabin in the summer of 1937 which was then about five miles from town but now within city limits.

There, he worked on revising “The Party at Jack’s.” The Wolfe Cabin was designated a Local Historic Landmark by city ordinance in 1982, in recognition of Wolfe’s time at the Cabin and its association with Wolfe’s writing and his final visit to Asheville. His cabin is currently owned by the City of Asheville, who have high hopes for a full renovation for the cabin as well as its surrounding property.

McDonald’s program will update those present on the progress by the Preservation Society and the Asheville Historic Resources Commission on restoring the historic “Thomas Wolfe Cabin” where Tom came hoping to find quiet and inspiration.

The public and Preservation Society members are invited to come for an introduction to the still lively and tightly knit neighborhood and meet some of the descendants of the founders of Oteen and Homeland Park. A self-driving or walking tour of the area is optional. For more information go to www.psabc.org.

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