Ernie’s Rock Shop still bears the sign of the business that once resided there, though the enterprise closed their doors last year. Some may not realize how long the business had been familiar sight on the Rosman Highway, in the vicinity of the Sunset Motel and other downtown Brevard locations. The store was a treasure trove of interesting rocks, gems, minerals, fossils and more, curated by owner and enthusiast Ernie Roth.
The building was constructed in 1983 and was originally a Long John Silver’s. The “widow’s walk” style roof and boardwalk-style railings are reminiscent of the nautical theme of those restaurants. The enterprise wasn’t long-lived, however, and was closed in 1987. The owners sold the building back to the bank, and then Ernest A. Roth, otherwise known as Ernie, bought the building in 1989. By 1990, Ernie opened his business under the name Ernie’s Western Carolina Mountain Rock Shop before simplifying it to Ernie’s Rock Shop by the next year.
Ernest A. Roth was a Hungarian immigrant who moved to the United States with his family at the age of three. He was born on September 24, 1910 in Budapest, but spent much of his youth in Peoria, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Florida Law School in 1937, began to gain job experience in a law firm, and then was drafted into the army in World War II. Later, he opened his own law practice in Miami, Florida, had a full career, and retired from the profession after 46 years. During that time, Ernie married Cornelia Richardson and had four children: Stephen, Robert, Linda, and Gail. Cornelia passed away in 1981.
Ernie moved to Transylvania County in the late 1980s, where the Rock Shop was opened as a type of passion project for his love of minerals, gems, and rockhounding. He ran the store until he passed away in 2000, at which time his daughter Linda took over the business. She operated under the same name in his memory for another twenty years before finally closing the business in 2022. New owners have purchased the building, but there is no public information about the next purpose for the property.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.