The Dunn’s Rock area was home to the earliest summer colony
within Transylvania County. In the
1850s, while still a part of Henderson County, wealthy plantation owners from
the Charleston area headed for the mountains to escape the summer heat, humidity,
insects and sickness of the lowlands.
Among those who purchased thousands of acres from Dunn’s Rock
northward along the French Broad River where Francis W. Johnstone, William C.
Johnstone, Rev. J. Stuart Hanckel and Robert W. Hume.
Francis Johnstone’s Montclove estate is the furthest north
(located just east of the Brevard Racquet Club). The home is a mix of Gothic Revival and Greek
Revival architecture and sits on a hill above a bend in the river. Francis Johnstone was a captain in Company E
of the 25th North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate Army.
Many years later the property was slated for development as
part of the Brevard Country Club. The
venture failed during the depression though, thus saving Montclove. Owned by the Gilfillin family since the 1930s
the house and outbuildings have retained their historical character.
William Johnstone, brother of Francis, built his home
overlooking the French Broad River a short distance downstream. William’s home was Gothic Revival in style
and similar to that of his brother.
In the 1920s Dr. Robert Stokes operated the Riverside Sanatorium,
the first hospital in the county, from the home for a short time.
Attorney Ralph Ramsey and his wife bought the home in the
mid-1900s and extensively remodeled it in the Neoclassical Revival style. The Ramsey family still lives in the home.
|Hanckel’s Chestnut Hill|
In 1856 Rev.James Stuart Hanckel bought property from the
Johnstones. Here he built his home, Chestnut
Hill. On June 21, 2014 the Transylvania
County Historical Society will host a house tour at Chestnut Hill.
|Ruins of Hume’s “Rock Hotel”|
To the south, Robert W. Hume owned nearly 2000 acres. Hume built a stone hotel on his property for
those who visited for shorter periods of time or could not afford the grand
estates. The lodging was known by
various names, including “Rock Hotel”, “Stone Hotel”, “Connestee Hotel” or
“Dunn’s Rock Hotel”. Bushwhackers are
said to have burned Hume’s hotel during the Civil War.
In 1915 Royal Morrow hauled the stones from the old hotel to
Brevard to build his Craftman style home on East Main St. Today this is the home of Mac and Veronica
In the summer of 1856 the Johnstone, Hanckel, Hume and other Charleston
families began holding church services in Francis Johnstone’s carriage
house. Three years later
St.-Paul’s-in-the-Valley, the first Episcopal church in the county, was
constructed. Rev. Hanckel served as the
minister during the summer services.
The Civil War brought unrest to Transylvania County and was
particularly hard on these Charleston plantation owners. Some lost everything and never returned to
the mountains, others settled in Brevard when they did come back following the
war. Membership at
St.-Paul’s-in-the-Valley shrink and evidently the congregation relocated to
Brevard as well and re-established itself as St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
|Morrow home built using stone from “Rock Hotel”|
All of this played a part in the early development of the Dunn’s
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the
Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information,
comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-3151 X242.