The Franklin Hotel, built by J. Frances Hays around 1900
on East Main St., was surrounded by an expansive lawn, acres of trees, and a
small lake.  In 1909 Hays sold the hotel
and 80 acres to the Franklin Park Improvement Company for $35,000.

This early photograph of Franklin Lake way

likely taken while Hay still owned the

Franklin Hotel, circa 1900-1909.

A survey prepared by A. L. Harden and R. C. Bailey at the
time shows details of the proposed neighborhood from E. Main Street to King
Creek and Rice Street to Park Street. 
Included within the area are Lakeview Ave., Hilt St., Robinson Ave., and
Cascade Ave., which is East French Broad Street today.  At its center is a four acre park with a two
acre lake.  The dam for the lake runs
across the east end of the park.  There
are 89 lots of varying sizes identified on the survey. 

However the project did not appear to be very successful
as only a few homes were built at the time. 
A comment in the May 24, 1912 Sylvan Valley News stated, “The bed of
what used to be the Franklin lake is now a blot on a bit of landscape otherwise
very attractive.  The ground is seamed
and cracked in an unsightly way, and near the broken dam a good deal of water
has accumulated to stagnate, have a bad appearance, and more unsanitary than the
lake itself.”  Over the next several years
sale notices for the property regularly ran in the newspaper.

In April 1922 it was announced that C. C. Yongue would
purchase the property and restore the lake. 
By the end of June work was completed. 
Yongue advertised, “Spend the Fourth at Franklin Lake and Park.”  It offered picnic tables and benches, private
dressing rooms and lockers, a new confectionary store and rest room, and ample
parking.  The two-acre lake was up to 20
feet deep, featured a 100 foot long sandy beach and a 100 square foot enclosed
space for small children.

The venture again ran into trouble, taxes went unpaid,
and by the Great Depression the lake was gone. 
In late 1933 Brevard Building and Loan in conjunction with the town and
county undertook creating a park with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and
playground facilities.  Funding
originally came through the Civil Works Administration with R.P. Kilpatrick as
the construction manager.  Later it was
transferred to the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and a new construction
manager, Ernest Miller, was named. 

The pool was 45 feet wide and 105 feet long with a depth
ranging from three-and-one-half feet to nine-and-one-half feet.  The Town of Brevard hired Coach Ernest Tilson
to operate the pool which opened on June 28, 1934.  Over the next several weeks the bath house
was completed, lights were added, and work continued on the surrounding park.

Sadly on July 18 before the entire project was completed, 39-year-old construction manager Ernest
Miller collapsed and died of an apparent stroke while on the job.

Chuck Gilmore’s Today photograph was taken

looking across the pool nearly straight toward

where the dam was located.

Don Voltz took his Today photograph beyond the pool

and included the Girl Scout House on the right.

Today Franklin Park covers 4.4 acres at the location of
the former park and lake.  Participants
in the “Yesterday’s Places Today” contest took their photographs from several
different locations and angles on the property. 
All entries will be on display on the 2nd floor at the
Library throughout the week.

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 828-884-1820.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712