What started out as one man's dream in 1982, has been a work in progress for over 30 years. The following is a brief history of Grandview: In the Beginning.....
Going back to the early 1900's, the property was worked (and probably owned) by the Willis Family (a large family). The area where the pond is now was a tobacco field (cash crop) and a large frame house beside it where the front yard is today. There were corn and wheat fields on the mountain, where they cleared the "not so steep" land. In 1918 during the influenza epidemic that swept the nation, the Willis family lost three members - the mother and two children. A horse drawn wagon pulled up on the road in front to take away the dead. The bodies were taken to Peeks Chapel Church at the bottom of Bone Camp about a half mile away. Due to the flu epidemic, no one could congregate for funerals, so the only service for the dead was "the ringing of the bell" at the church, and it still rings each Sunday morning at 10am.
Sometime in the 1930's the property went to the Howell family. It included about 150 acres on the county rolls, which were usually understated on the tax rolls to lesson the tax bite. The times were hard during the depression and the "going price or trade" was "a chicken for an acre". You could eat a chicken, but an acre of hardwood trees were pretty worthless!
In the 1950's the property was split between the two Howell children. The daughter got the half on the south side of the gap and the son, John Scott Howell, got the "70 acres" on the north side. John Scott was a hard working farmer who raised tobacco and bought steers in the spring for the mountain pastures and then would sell them in the fall so he would not have to buy hay. About 1972, the house that John Scott lived in burned down and a friend was caught inside and perished. When the fire truck arrived, all they could do was to make sure the fire did not move on to the other buildings.
In 1981, with John Scott Howell being in poor health, he sold the "70 acres" to Bill McDonald, the current owner. After buying the property as is, Bill had it surveyed and found that it was really 98+ acres! And so it started.... 98+ acres, a tobacco curing barn, a garage, cow barn, a big tobacco barn, two older log barns across the road and about 8 zillion ticks!
In the summer of 82, the goal was to turn the tobacco curing barn into a house. First a deck around three sides, a staircase down to the flat area, then we cut holes in the sides for windows and doors, a stairwell inside to two tiny bedrooms, piped in water from the spring in the pasture and a connection to the septic tank that already existed from the burned house. This was a living house for the next six years! Rough but a great house.
In 1988, more construction and more room. Then in 1994 and 1995, major construction with excavation of dirt and rock to build the retainer wall, more upgrades to the main house and a Gazebo at the edge of the property. At the same time, the remodel of the tobacco barn, with 2000 ft of office space upstairs and a 2000 ft shop and storage underneath.
In 1998 and 1999, two more adjacent pieces of property were purchased, 50 and 35 acres, for a total of 182 acres.
In 2003, what was the original curing barn was again remodeled into the current entry room. The front deck was expanded to its current size and tiled, and then retiled (the original tile was bad) in 2010.
In 2008, steel beams were installed to support the spa, as it was extended out over the edge of the rock structure to get the feeling of being "suspended into space".
The last major construction was the redo of the deck at the office on the hill, using the same steel deck technique. The new cantilevered deck now extends 8 ft, giving a fantastic view of all below and a great sunset!
Given the significant sloping terrain on both sides of Bone Camp Road, Grandview needed lots of retainer walls to make more livable space. Over the years, four different stone masons were used to produce the rock structures around the property.
In 1982, Lloyd Willis was hired to build the rock wall around the pond, as well as another wall from Bone Camp Road to the front of the newly converted curing barn. Lloyd and his son picked up rock in the pastures and mortared them into place -- until there was no more usable rock to gather. They then picked up rock from the Shook property on Upper East Fork Road (they lived on East Fork) to finish the job.
In 1988, the next mason was John Johnson, who built both of the big fireplace structures, the chimney and the rock around the front of the house.
The third mason was Bret Ledbetter, a neighbor across the gap. Bret was a third generation mason and his grandad is known for doing the rock work on the Asheville Civic Center -- a massive work of beauty! Bret's signature is the "dry stack", with no mortar showing. Rock was acquired from Dogget Mountain and mixed with a gray rock from Eastern Tennessee. The pillars on each side of the driveway and the reflection pool/waterfall are good examples of Bret's artistry, as well as the retainer walls on each side of the driveways and the gray rock that shows beautifully on the north face of the Gazebo.
The fourth mason was Vance Murray, a neighbor on East Fork Road. Vance did the rock work for the deck in 2003. His task was to match as close as possible the work of Johnson. The nine marble caps to the rock pillars were Vance's work also, to protect the mortar work and add some beauty to the platforms around the perimeter of the deck.
We are blessed with excellent water here at Grandview - and great tasting too! There are three natural springs, two drilled wells, a pond, wishing well, water reservoir and Willis Branch. All have tested great each time the lab reports come back!
The spring in the horse pasture was the original water source for the house in the 80's until the consumption increased. The spring is buried under about 8 ft of gravel, where a perforated 8 inch pipe delivers it to a 500 gallon reservoir. From the reservoir, the water is piped to the stable, garden area, solarium and water troughs in the pastures.
The spring that is now piped under the house was the original "strong" spring that cooled the milk and butter in the Springhouse in the old days. Now the spring feeds into the wishing well, then directly into the pond. The drain from the pond feeds into Willis Branch and on down to East Fork Creek, a quarter mile away.
Main House Inside
The four foot front door was designed and built by Dam Enterprises in Marshall NC and installed in 2003. The entry room is highlighted by a center table below a beautiful chandelier, acquired at the Glass Factory in Venice in 1998. The bucket list includes a trip back to Venice for a larger chandelier and return this one to its original location over the stairs leading to upstairs.
Main House Outside
The tile deck, the cedar entry exterior and the steps to the lower level were added in 2003/2004. The covered walkway was added in 1995 and leads to the Gazebo. The wood used for the walkway is salt treated pine.
The Spa can seat up to eight with privacy from the road being provided by the Dogwood tree. The spa is suspended over the edge of the rock platform to provide the feeling of being "suspended into space".
The Gazebo, built in 1994, offers beautiful views of the pond area and front yard. The cooking area was lowered so the view would not be blocked from the main level. The cooking area includes a grill, griddle, burner, fridge, digital cookshack smoker, 20 ft of counter space and a double sink. Also included is a bar/serving area with four bar stools (added 2008). The entire structure was designed to have no internal supports, with each of the eight roof components supporting each other.
The pond was dug in 1982 and has been maintenance free from the beginning. Fresh water is provided by a spring that once cooled a springhouse in the 1960's. The pond has bass, bluegill and catfish for cleaning the bottom.
The front yard/pond deck is a popular place for weddings, including the owners wedding in 2004!
The Solarium/Greenhouse gets full southern sun and water is provided from a spring in the horse pasture, which also provides water for the garden area. A propane heating unit provides heat during the winter. The Solarium was converted from a garage about 1995.
Full service RV hookups (50 amp electric, water, sewer) are available by the Solarium, easily accommodating a 45ft motorhome! Plus, there are electric/water hookups for two more RVs at the Guest House/Work Shop.
The Stable was built in 1996, using timber from the property and a portable sawmill. The siding is 1x10 cut lumber. Like the Gazebo, the eight roof components were put in place to support each other, requiring no inside supports. The hayloft is designed to hold up to 3000 bales of hay. The current requirement is for about 150 bales per horse for the winter.
The tack room is in the hayloft, adjacent to the balcony. The stable and pasture is designed to support six horses, with additional pasture property across the road, currently being used for cattle.
The Stable is equipped with electricity and water, with the water coming from the spring in the pasture, via the reservoir between the spring and the stable. There are two water troughs in the pasture, fed from the overflow of the reservoir (fed by the spring).
Guest House / Work Shop / Office
The original structure was built as a tobacco barn in 1955. It was known to be the "best barn in the country", having been built by craftsmen from near and far, who came to work on the barn and also participate in the moonshine from the mountain above that was served in the evenings!
The second floor was added in 1994, providing approximately 4000 ft of usable space. The carpenters at this time were amazed to find how "plumb and square with such precision" on the building of the original structure.
The bottom floor has a complete woodworking shop, an electrical/mechanical work area and storage.
The second floor was originally designed to be an office for an electronics company, with 1 1/2 baths, kitchen and conference room, managers office and a large work area for nine workstations. Today, the office is a guest bedroom and the main work area into comfortable living space.
The view from the deck is fantastic!
Now is the time for someone else to take control of this beautiful estate and move it forward to a new level. Hopefully that's YOU!