The Lodge Legend

Stone Hume Hotel
The ruins of the Hume Hotel, Dunn’s Rock, Transylvania County, NC

In the oral history of Rockbrook there is an interesting story of the connection between Brevard’s oldest hotel, The Hume Hotel and Rockbrook.  Legend says that the stones from the hotel ruins were used by Rockbrook’s engineer Royal Morrow in the construction of The Junior Lodge at RBC.  While we can not authenticate the story, it seems possible that the stones could have easily been used due to the hotel’s proximity to the Rockbrook property.  As you can see in the photo above, the ruins lie just below Dunns Rock, on the current Island Ford Road right across from main camp. Currently there is a house on the site, but there are a few remaining rocks left from the 1840’s hotel.  At the time it was built, it was the first hotel in Transylvania County. We may never know the real answer to the mystery, but we like to think of Rockbrook’s connection to such an important landmark.  Check out this blog post from our archives for more information about the hotel.

Rockbrook Camp Junior stone lodge
Junior Lodge, do the stones match the old hotel?

The NC Digital Library and Rockbroook

The Transylvania County Library recently contributed over 200 photographs and newspapers to the North Carolina Digital Library.  The digital library includes a searchable database of the entire NC Digital Heritage Center Archives.  With the ability to search images and newspapers from the early days of Brevard, we have had a great time finding out more about the history of Rockbrook and it’s founder, Nancy  Clarke Carrier.

Our first article we discovered is from the Sylvan Valley News, Brevard’s first newspaper which was published from the 1890’s until 1916.  The article is from May, 1908.

Nancy Clarke wins
Sylvan Valley News, 1908, Brevard, NC

Nancy Clarke was 19 years old at the time of this tournament.  We know from past research that she was a student at Columbia College for Women, so possibly this was a school sponsored tournament?   As mentioned in a previous blog post, The Rockbrook House featured a tennis court in the side yard.  Perhaps this is where Nancy honed her tennis skills?

Carrier House Tennis Court
The Rockbrook House Tennis Court

When Rockbrook was founded in 1921, tennis was one of the activities offered that first season.  With our new insight into Mrs. Carrier and her love of tennis, it is no surprise that she would include it in the activity roster.  We continue to offer tennis today and know Mrs. Carrier would be proud to see her legacy continued!  Stay tuned for more from the digital archives.

camp tennis 1940
Rockbrook Camp Catalog, 1940

The Rockbrook House and Richard Sharp Smith

Clarke Carrier House, Brevard, NC
The Rockbrook House, 1930’s

The Rockbrook House, also known as The Clarke Carrier House, is located in the center of Rockbrook’s property.  It was built in 1895 by Henry Peck Clarke, father of Rockbrook’s founder Nancy Carrier.  Clarke hired Richard Sharp Smith, supervising architect of The Biltmore House, to design his mountain home.  The house was completed in 1895, just a few months after The Biltmore Estate was completed.  At that time, Smith opened his own architecture firm and began designing homes and civic buildings around western NC.  He is considered to be one of the most prolific and influential architects during the 1900’s in the Asheville area.  He, along with his firm Smith and Carrier, designed over 700 structures throughout western NC. His work is known for its Craftsman and Colonial Revival Styles,  such as the use of pebbledash stucco on the exterior, half timbering, and diamond pane windows.  These features are all part of The Rockbrook House.  (Note the diamond pane windows flanking the front door).

As you travel the back roads of western NC, you are sure to spot examples of his influence around every turn.  We here at Rockbrook are proud to share a piece of the architectural history of our region. Here are some other examples of Smith’s work around NC.

Kanuga cottage
Kanuga Conference Center Cottages, Hendersonville, NC
Annie West house
Annie West House, Asheville, NC
Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
Anderson Audotorium Montreat NC
Anderson Auditorium, Montreat, NC

Congratulations Kristin and James!

Rockbrook Wedding scene

We were so happy to learn of the recent nuptials of Rockbrook alumna Kristin Abele.  Kristin and her husband James were married on January 14th in Key Biscayne, Florida.  A mini Rockbrook reunion took place as Kristin’s sisters Lauren and Madi (both former campers), as well as Anne Romatowski and Kelley Hubbell were in attendance.  Kelley, Anne and Lauren were even able to come to Florida a week early for a some fun adventures before the big event.  Kristin reported that lots of camp songs were shared that week, even at the wedding.  We love that Rockbrook spirit!  Kristin even mentioned that many of the wedding guests could instantly recognize the special bond that all RBC girls share!

Rock and Roll Camp girls
Rockbrook Spirit

Here is an update from Kristin herself:

“As an update for me…aside from getting married…I started my own business, with my husband in fact. We own and operate The Found Gen, which is a story/scripting group based in Miami that offers writing and editing services with an emphasis on marketing to businesses–we write copy for websites, blogs, newsletters, email marketing campaigns, proposals, marketing presentations, film scripts, commercial scripts, keynote speeches and more–and now after our wedding, we’ve even started getting requests for wedding ceremonies now! And, I completed my first novel last year and now that the wedding has come and gone–i’m aiming to edit it and send it out to be published this Spring.”

Congratulations Kristin and James!  We are so happy for you both.

Rockbrook Wedding Fun
Kelley, Kristin, Madi, Lauren and Anne

The Rockbrook Water Wheel Song

Rockbrook Water Wheel
Rockbrook Water Wheel, 1923

Did you know that in the 1920’s the power for most of Rockbrook was created by a water wheel?  In 1923, a water wheel was installed just below the lake and dam to run the electricity for the camp.  The water wheel came from the Federal Distillery right across the road from camp. The Distillery building is one of three in Transylvania county, and currently the only one still standing. The distillery is believed to have operated from the mid-nineteenth century until Prohibition when the wheel was removed and relocated across Hwy 276.  The water wheel was such an important feature of camp there was even a song written about it!  Check out the sheet music that we found in honor of Rockbrook’s Water Wheel.

The Heart of Rockbrook

The 2011 Carrier Pigeon, our annual summer yearbook, is at the printer right now in preparation for sending out over the holiday.  It is filled with so many wonderful stories and memories of the past summer. There are so many highlights, we thought we would share a few with you!  The fun, friends and feeling of Rockbrook never changes, whether it is 1921 or 2011!

Splashing and laughing
in the rocky creek,
with our tangled hair
and our soaking wet feet;
In the dining hall
we all loudly sing,
then at rest hour flop down
and don’t say a thing.

Cabinmates are like sisters,
and friends ever better,
everyone’s hoping
to receive a letter.
Walking along
a quiet forest trail
or running a brush
through a horse’s soft tail.
In hilarious evening skits
every girl has a part,
In this beautiful wooded mountain,
you can tell why we’re called the heart.
       —Miriam E.

Old Camp Photo

Swimming, Diving, I’ve Been Striving

Swim Lessons at Rockbrook Camp, 1920's
Swim Class at Rockbrook, 1930’s

Since 1921, Rockbrook has offered swimming lessons to campers of all skill levels using the Red Cross swimming system.  In those early years swimming was required each day for every girl. After an 8 week session ( there was only one session of camp back then) you would be a fantastic swimmer! Rockbrook also taught Lifeguarding classes to the older campers to help prepare them as they developed into counselors themselves.  One famous Rockbrook swim teacher was Helen Chiere, who taught swimming for over 25 summers.  She taught generations of Rockbrook girls how to swim and was famous for her style of instruction which included sayings like “scrape the jelly off the belly” for learning the backstroke, or “pick an apple and put it in the basket” for learning the side stroke.  Her humor and warmth helped all the junior campers have a great experience at the lake.

The camp lake is still the center of daily life at Rockbrook!  Between swim classes, free swim, canoeing, kayaking and trips down the water slide it is always abuzz with activity.  Most of the campers these days already know how to swim, but lessons and fun are still at the center of it all at the lake.  And as the camp song says: “Swimming, diving, I’ve been striving, striving hard to pass my test, and before the summers over, I’ll be swimming with the best.  Jump on the spring board, dive in, SPLASH!”

The Summer Camp Dance

Vintage Camp dance NC
Rockbrook and Camp Carolina Square Dance, 1950’s

Who does not remember the excitement and nerves that came with your first summer camp dance?  Multiple generations of Rockbrook Girls have participated in this summer ritual.  The dances originally were held in our Dining Hall (see photo above) but are currently held in our Gymnasium.  They are usually held once or twice a session, the dates of which are a highly guarded secret.  The Hi- Up campers get to announce the dance to the camp and the reaction is quite  loud and boisterous.  It is a very light and fun experience with everyone dancing together, laughing and being silly.  For those who are not interested in participating we also offer a separate activity that is equally fun!  Feel free to share with us any camp dance stories that you have- we would love to hear them!