Transylvania County Library logo

Transylvania County undertook an architectural survey in 1990-1991 it included
structures built from 1820-1941.  Only a
small number of buildings within the African American communities of the county
met the criteria at that time and nearly half of those are no longer standing

stated in last week’s Picturing the Past article, a new survey was undertaken
to identify the African American heritage related resources of Brevard and
Transylvania County during 2019.  It included
more of the county’s African American architecture dating from 1920 to 1975.  The new survey resulted in fifteen property
updates from the previous study and the addition of 86 properties.

Transylvania Tanning opened on the west side of Brevard in 1917 employment
opportunities for African Americans greatly increased.  This led to growth in the Rosenwald community
and its surrounding neighborhoods of Hemphill Circle, Duckworth Avenue, The
Flats, Georgia Hill, Goose Hollow and others. 

of the homes in these communities were small when built and expanded over the
years.  Typically of frame construction,
brick or stone veneer was added to a number of the houses later.  The stone veneer is attributed to Fred Mills
and other local stonemasons.

losing an arm in an accident at the tannery, Fred Mills was a talented mason.  He was trained by the Wright brothers of
Henderson County and worked on many major stone projects in Brevard including
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, the Brevard College Wall and the retaining wall
at the Courthouse.

The Avery Benjamin House on West Land is described in the survey’s

final report as featuring “a variety of masonry techniques, including a

diamond-shaped keystone and diagonally laid rock forming a lintel

above the window of the front projecting gable.”

Mills also
trained his neighbor, Avery Benjamin as a stonemason.  They used their skills on landscaping
projects throughout the Rosenwald neighborhood. 
There are numerous stone retaining walls, walkways, steps and at least
one raised flowerbed that were built by Mills and Benjamin throughout the
community today.

One of
Mills early works, which no longer remains, was a stone water fountain on the
grounds of the original Rosenwald School. 
It served as a gathering place for the African American community.  Later he would build the retaining wall
around the new Rosenwald School that is today the Morris Education Center.

The circa 1970 entry gate at the Rosenwald community’s Silversteen Park

was likely one of Fred Mills last projects.

There were
several other African Americans in Transylvania County who worked as
stonemasons and bricklayers.  Many of the
brick workers were trained in vocational classes such as those taught by Eddie Young at the
Ninth Avenue School in Hendersonville.

for this article was taken from the survey’s final report, “Walking Around the
World” by consultants Dr. Michael Ann Williams and Sydney Varajon.  The complete survey also includes a one-page
“Historic Property Survey Summary” and exterior photographs for each property.  It is available in the Local History Room at
the Transylvania County Library.

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.

search our catalog

search our events

search our website

search our catalog

search our events

search our website

(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712