Fairview Book Club

when i stuck my head out the door this morning at 6:30 to go for a run there was a fresh breeze blowing: almost cool. thank the weather gods for small blessings.  

we had our bi-monthly book club meeting last night.  an eclectic group if there ever was one!

we gather at the sherrill’s inn, circa 1839, located on US 74 – A between asheville and lake lure. our good friends john and annie live there. annie’s father was our congressman for some number of years in the ’70’s & ’80’s.  locally, we refer to it as the  “Big House”  or  the  Clarke House. 

folks bring food and wine, we gather on the wide verandas in the summer and around the dinning room fireplace in ‘in-climate’ times.  discussion is always lively. last night we discussed Barbars Kingsolver’s new novel, Lacuna.  next  we  are  gonna  do  The Help ! … Kathryn Stockett:  the  best  new novel/new writer      i  have  come across in a  decade or  so.

we were able to get Elizabeth Kostova ( The Swan Thief )  to join  for a special (extra)  evening in late june.  she currently lives in asheville …. turns our her grandparents and the elder Clarkes were good friends.  she  remembers coming to  the  Big House with her grandmother some thirty years or so ago.  can you imagine a   ‘best selling’    author coming to a fifteen person book club?!  she, elizabeth, was as personable and outgoing as anybody ever was; and, told us at the end, that we  had asked the best questions and made the best observation of any group she had ever met with.       

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[photo]
Sherrill’s Inn

Photo courtesy of City Development, City of Asheville, North Carolina

Sherrill’s Inn was a way-station for stagecoach travelers and cattle drivers on the “Hickory Nut Turnpike,” which connected Rutherfordton and Asheville, throughout most of the 19th century. The inn was built sometime between 1839 and 1850 for Bedford Sherrill, who was appointed a Commissioner by the 1841 General Assembly for the purpose of building and keeping up the Turnpike. State roads such as the Hickory Nut Turnpike offered the only effective commercial access between Western North Carolina and the outside world. Sherrill’s Inn was opened to travelers at least as early as February of 1850.

[photo]
Historic view of Sherrill’s Inn

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

The inn was described in an 1895 travel guide called Mountain Scenery as having “a fine view” and being “a cool, pleasant place in summer.” Although the majority of pre-Civil War guests were from the Carolinas, guests from 14 other states and Ireland appear in the inn’s register in the 1850s. After the Western North Carolina Railroad extended its line into Asheville, the inn saw a large increase in visitors from other areas of the country. Between 1880 and 1909, Sherrill’s Inn hosted guests from 31 states as well as nine foreign countries. The inn hosted several well-known guests, including U.S. Representative Zebulon Baird Vance in 1859 (later North Carolina Governor and U.S. Senator), former U.S. President Millard Fillmore in 1858 and Governor Andrew Johnson of Tennessee in 1859. Sherrill’s Inn was operated by the Sherrill family until 1908.

[photo] Sherrill’s Inn
Photo courtesy of City Development, City of Asheville, North Carolina

Sherrill’s Inn is situated on a hillside, surrounded by extensive landscaping which evokes a lush pastoral ambiance. The present large frame building incorporates two early log structures and subsequent additions. The inn is an excellent example of a saddle-bag log house with an exterior stair. The building has been raised to two stories and clad in weatherboard. Several Federal Revival style exterior features are the result of 20th-century renovations. The east shed room contains large murals depicting the history of the inn, painted in the early 20th century by the present owner’s mother, Mrs. J. G. K. McClure. A number of supporting buildings of various ages surround the inn. These include a still-functioning stone spring house, a log meat-house, two rows of cottages and a large barn with a high pitched roof.

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About Tom Honea

the south mississippi i grew up in did not yet have paved roads or telephones or televisions. it did have great story tellers, on front porches in the summer or around the fire place in the winter. we were poverty stricken, financially but not culturally. we didn't know it. everybody up and down the road was in the same boat. . after forty years of day jobs i am approaching my "fishing years." i plan to spend them writing. i have a finished and edited deep south novel in the "marketing" stages. currently i'm deep into a WW II home front piece set in the Hampton Roads, VA area. notes and character sketches are already underway for "From Hiroshima to Elvis" ( the ten years after the war ) on the coastal areas of South Carolina. . visit asheville ... come and see me.
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