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Come See Life in Blowing Rock on the 66th Annual Tour of Homes on Friday, July 26th

Four gracious mountain homes are on tap for the 66th annual Blowing Rock Tour of Homes on Friday, July 26th.  Sponsored by St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church, with all net proceeds funding local charities, homes are open 9 am to 4 pm.  Advance tickets are on sale now for $35 at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, through the Chamber’s website Events tab (blowingrockncchamber.com), or through the church website (stmaryofthehills.org/tour-of-homes24). Tickets will be $40 on the day of the Tour.  

In addition to the Garden Party bake sale, there are Timeess Treasures in the parish hall, tours of the church, and a picnic lunch available for purchase ($18).  New this year is a raffle with a cash prize (25% of the sales, up to $5,000) – raffle tickets are $100 each with a limit of 200 tickets; contact michael@stmaryofthehills.org.

Skyfall

Extensively renovated by the Jordans between 2017 and 2020, this ornate villa is filled with family porcelain and glass collections and European antiques purchased either locally or from antique shops across North Carolina.  You’ll enter the home through imposing oak antique double doors from a French hotel leading into the Grand Salon. Note the chandeliers, Venetian plaster walls, and the 12-point buck over the massive stone fireplace.  The fireplace is flanked by bronze 6-foot candlesticks, originally from the Ringling mansion in Florida.

The kitchen houses the family’s extensive glassware collections, and the adjoining Butler’s Pantry holds a large collection of flow blue porcelain.  A small breakfast balcony overlooks the lawn and outdoor entertainment pavilion.  Next, the dining room has a bespoke french-style painted dining table and antique French side chairs, a carved English oak mantelpiece, and a lovely collection of 19th Century oil paintings. An adjoining wine-tasting room and bar overlooks the lawn.

A mirrored wall opens the secret passage to the master bedroom, which boasts a Baccarat crystal chandelier, French armoire, and marble fireplace whose andirons are from the Mel Gibson movie, “The Patriot”.  The master bath has a luxurious soaking tub and leads to a room-sized walk-in closet, both showcasing the homeowner’s large perfume collection.

Downstairs is the Screening Room with an antique limestone mantle, bistro kitchen, and two quiet, restful guest rooms, one behind old glass double doors from a European café.

Outside, an orchard stone patio offers relaxed seating under wisteria, facing a large pavilion designed for outdoor entertaining.  Two stone statues from Paris are to your left, and a small formal boxwood garden is to your right.  The bronze leaping deer statue on the wall above it is from the same foundry that produced the bronzes for the James Bond movie, “Skyfall”, and gives the villa it’s name.

The Church Home

This small gem, nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac, is a virtual North Carolina art museum, reflecting the homeowner’s decades of friendships with artists across the state. 

You’ll enter the home through a charming pocket garden to a flagstone back porch with a long-range John’s River Gorge view beyond.  Before entering what homeowner Marion Church terms her “Everything Room”, notice the Vollis Simpson whirligig beyond the porch dining table, and the Solaris bell hanging to your left where it catches the (often quite fierce) winds coming up off the gorge.

Inside, there’s a cozy sitting area around the gas log fireplace – the little leather rhinoceros is an antique footstool – and artwork everywhere.  You’ll see a bronze bear by Pam Brewer, and ceramics and glass by Jane Peiser, Billy Bernstein, Valerie Beck, and (look up – it’s the red pottery on the gallery!) Ben Owens.  There are paintings by Noyes Capehart, Maud Gatewood, John Beerman, and Julyan Davis, and (in the half bath) by Damian Stamer, along with a self-portrait of Beverly McIver. Flanking the kitchen, with its herringbone tile backsplash, is a collection of Majolica.

Upstairs, where more original art adorns the walls, is a salmon-colored guest room with antique porcelain figurines on vintage bamboo furniture, and the Ben Owens red stoneware on the gallery beyond.

Finally, the master bedroom sports Dorothy Draper ‘Rhododenron’ wallpaper, and a John Beerman painting of Grandfather mountain. This home is a lovely example of living large in the mountains on a small scale!

The Hangover

“The Hangover”, so called because the house ‘hangs over’ the John’s River Gorge, is a wood-lover’s dream.  Built on a framework of solid steel beams with concrete pillars and micro piles driven 15 feet into the bedrock, the custom woodwork in the house is all reclaimed – the wormy chestnut from old barns in Ashe County, and the heart pine floors, ceiling, beam, doors and wainscoting from an 18th Century house in Speed, North Carolina that was damaged by Union troops during the Civil War.  

You’ll enter through the large wormy chestnut doors into the welcome of a mountain-style great room.  Notice the heart pine floors and ceiling, and wormy chestnut cabinets flanking the stone fireplace.  Through an archway is the kitchen, with marble countertops, stone backsplash, and wormy chestnut ceiling and box beams.  When the wormy chestnut slates for the shutters were delivered to the company assembling them, workers were surprised that homeowners Hodge and Jean Kitchin had chosen wood with holes in it, and had to be stopped from filling them in with wood putty!

The soaring back deck overlooks the gorge; its herringbone pattered floor is made of Ipe wood from Brazil, known for its strength and durability.  Also on the main floor is the master suite with gas log fireplace and antique mantle from an 18th Century eastern Carolina farmhouse.  The bath has a heated travertine floor and Jacuzzi tub with a view of the gorge.  And take a peek into the master closet – the cedar ceiling, drawer liners, and wall behind the hanging clothing is cut from an ancient cedar tree – damaged in a tornado – that Hodge loved to climb as a boy.

As you descend the stairs to the lower floor, look for the curly pine on the landing.  That rare wood is repeated on the top of the full-size bar in the Man Cave, where you’ll find more reclaimed heart pine and a turn-of-the-century pool table.

The most unusual feature of the home is the wine cellar – the 10′ high solid teak doors are from a 300-year-old palace in India and weigh over 2,000 pounds!  They were lifted into the steel framework of the house, which was then built around them, and the hinges were handmade by Hodge himself to support their massive weight.  Look on the interior side for the spikes (now hammered down for safety) designed to keep elephants within the palace grounds!

Barrett House

Renovated just in time for the 2020 lock-down, this cottage-style house invites the Barretts’ extended family to come home to the mountains.  The entryway powder room features grass cloth wallpaper by Jim Thompson.  To your left is a bright oil painting of Masai herdsmen, commissioned by the Barretts during a visit to Kenya.  There are dark stained oak floors and white-painted ship-lap walls everywhere, lending a relaxed, calm feeling to every room. The upstairs Family Room is filled with family photographs and overlooks the treetops and long-range Blue Ridge views – views shared by the adjoining guest room.  The Family Room is open to the kitchen and breakfast nook, which leads onto a covered orchard stone deck with an outdoor kitchen, stone fireplace, and large seating area.

Behind an elegant butler’s pantry with walnut cabinets is the dining room, which features the first of the family’s collection of ‘Willie Art’ (paintings by a locally-famous Boone street artist) which you’ll find throughout the house.   The bespoke dining table is topped by wormy chestnut reclaimed from an Ashe County barn. Past the wine cellar and through the book nook, you’ll find the master bedroom.  There’s a gas log stone fireplace, cross stitch completed by Tina Barrett as a young woman, and a bronze statue of the family’s former dog, “Goldie”, by the late Alex Hallmark, a local sculptor.

Downstairs harkens back to Tina’s days as a working cowgirl on a western cattle ranch – beginning with the collection of family cowboy boots at the foot of the stairs. Past her sewing room – clearly organized for the quilting projects she has planned for ‘someday’ – is the Bunk Room for the Barrett grandchildren…bunks, storage cupboards, and shower rooms designated for ‘Heifers’ and ‘Steers’. Exit through the TV nook onto a covered porch, where you’ll find rocking chairs and sofa-sized swings, a convertible ping-pong/picnic/pool table, cornhole and other family games, and a downstairs sitting room and two more adjoining guest rooms for the family’s ‘middle generation’!