S. Lorraine Norwood, MA, RPA
Manager, CRM/NEPA Department
2855 Premiere Parkway, Suite C I Duluth, Georgia 30097
P  623-0755, ext. 304 I F  623-9628 I M  372-3770
I’m happy to report that we’re coming down the home stretch on listing the marvelous Blake House on the National Register of Historic Places. Ann Swallow, the National Register Coordinator with the State Historic Preservation Office, has completed a second review of the nomination and supporting documentation. She has requested some additional information and research, and once this is done, the nomination will be reviewed by the Certified Local Government before heading toward an April deadline for submittal to members of the NRHP review board who meet in June.
As you can see, there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get a property on the National Register! Before we got to this point, we had to take measurements of all the rooms, windows, and doors, and note whether any architectural changes had been made and when. Tracking down dates has been very difficult. We have records from the Buncombe County Tax Assessor and the Deeds Office, but nailing down some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to the house is impossible due to the death of previous owners. Fortunately we have newspaper clippings, diary entries, old photographs, and archival documents.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the second NRHP review is Ann Swallow’s happy “accident” at finding an exact replica of the Blake House in an 1842 book of house plans called Cottage Residences by Andrew Jackson Downing. It’s amazing to think that in the 1850s, the Blakes had access to a book of house plans, much like modern consumers have access to plans in “Southern Living” or other architectural books and magazines. Downing’s drawing of “a cottage in the English, or Rural Gothic Style” is a dead ringer for the Blake House down to the kitchen wing on the rear and the bay window off the parlour. Downing designed the cottage for what he called “internal convenience”. By that he meant that there are “many families mainly composed of invalids, or persons advanced in years, who have a strong preference for a plan in which the kitchen, and at least one bedroom, are upon the same floor with the living rooms, and in which there is little or no necessity for ascending or descending stairs; an exercise which, though of little consequence to the young and robust, is of all others the most fatiguing to the infirm, or those in delicate health.”
We’re not sure if the Blake family had a member in delicate health who needed the downstairs bedroom, but that’s part of the additional information which we hope to dig up in the next few weeks. We do know that at some point, the downstairs bedroom was turned into a doctor’s office for Dr. Frederick Blake, the son of Daniel Blake, a rich South Carolina rice planter, who built the house. The Blakes were a fascinating family who had ties to Charleston, South Carolina and Hendersonville, North Carolina. More details and hopefully good news about the nomination in our next blog.
Added by Leslie:
This NRHP nomination has been very long and arduous I’m sure for Lorraine and her team. They first started in July 2007 and so I am very anxious at this point for a resolution.
I have the book that Lorraine mentions above and have taken a few photos so that you can see the similarities. The Parlour and Library are now the Inn’s Dining Rooms, the Bedroom is now the Inn’s Parlor and the entrance from the parking lot, the Kitchen is the Inn’s Rose Room which was my Gift Shop before that and the Labrador Landing Pub when I bought the Inn. Lastly, the Closet & Pantry are now the Inn’s Breakfast Room so you can see they are one room and are closed off from the Dining Room/Library on the other end which used to be open.
This book is available to guests so you will have to check it out when you come.Enjoy the photos!