Montreat Minute 4/26/24

Be Prepared: I-40 Westbound to be Closed in Asheville this Weekend

A stretch of Interstate 40 will close this weekend, weather permitting, allowing contract crews to begin rehabilitating bridges and resurfacing between Hendersonville Road (Exit 50) and I-26 East (Exit 46A) from 8:00pm Friday through Monday at 6:00am. Traffic will be detoured along I-240 from Friday night to Monday morning. Detour signs will be in place to direct traffic on to and off I-240.

Plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.

Landcare and Flat Creek Crossing Need Your Opinion

Thanks to the many of you who have completed the online survey about Flat Creek Crossing. Your ideas and comments are extremely valuable to us. For those of you who have not completed the survey, your feedback is still needed!

A Landcare committee team is working on plans and raising funds for the first fully accessible trail and park located just inside the Gate, downstream from the footbridge at the Memorial Garden. This new site, Flat Creek Crossing, will provide unique ways to enjoy nature for individuals living with disabilities or mobility challenges and their companions.

As plans are being developed, we want to know what you think. Please take five minutes (honestly, that’s all it takes!) to complete a short survey. CLICK HERE to take the survey.

Thank you for your help. For more information and progress updates, visit the website . If you have comments or questions, contact Patti Pyle [email protected]

“Everyone should be able to get to the creek!”

Montreat Native Plant Sale and Arbor Day Celebration May 4

Mark your calenders! The 2024 Native Plant Sale and Arbor Day observance is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, from 9am to 2pm at the Moore Center at Lake Susan. Plans are in the works for a day of shopping, learning, eating, visiting and enjoying the beauty that is afforded us in this special place. Additionally, the Landcare Committee and the Tree Board will have exhibits about their efforts to enhance the natural setting we enjoy.

Also on May 4: Treasured Tree Walk

In January, the Town Council voted to participate in the Swannanoa Valley Tree Alliance’s Treasured Tree program. Fourteen special trees in Montreat have been selected to be designated in the Treasured Tree program and marked accordingly.

On Saturday, May 4, from 10:00am to noon, a walking tour of the 14 trees will be held. The tour is approximately 2-2.5 miles, with stops along the route to learn about the history and significance of each tree.

For additional information, including the tour starting point and other key facts, CLICK HERE.

Friends of the Library Event April 30

The Friends of the L. Nelson Bell Library are offering a special event on Tuesday, April 30th, at 3:30pm in Gaither Fellowship Hall. Wayne Caldwell, noted area poet, will be reading from his poetry collection, Woodsmoke in celebration of National Poetry Month.

Woodsmoke is a poetry collection that renders the experience of living out life in a single exquisite place. Everyone is invited to attend.

Did You Know?

Dancing and roller skating in the Barn

In 1919, the Men’s Social Circle decided that they needed a place to meet, so out of their own pockets they paid for the construction of the Men’s Club (located where The Barn is now situated). It contained a comfortable parlor with a fireplace, a small library, a large porch overlooking Flat Creek, and a duck pin bowling alley.  The men did not use this space as much as they had thought and the nascent club program was in great need of indoor space. So in 1923 the men turned the building over to the MRA. The bowling alley was especially busy on rainy days! By the 1940s the building was primarily used by the collegiates. However, MRA did not use the facility to sponsor social events, so increasingly the collegiates, whose interests spanned more than hiking and softball, gravitated to “Roy’s,” a roadhouse on Old Highway 70.  As one collegian from the time noted, “Obviously, this activity did not meet with great enthusiasm on the part of [the] ‘powers that be.’” 

In 1940, the Montreat Women’s Club spearheaded the effort to demolish the building and erect a new one designed specifically for recreational purposes. The cost was $6,000, paid for jointly by Montreat College, the MRA, and the Women’s Club. The building contained a large stone fireplace at one end, a small stage on the side, a room for skate storage, and a small office space. The wooden floor was perfect for skating and dancing (although not to the same music as provided at Roy’s!). The Collegians made good use of the space in the 1940s, practicing plays that they then put on in Anderson Auditorium, dancing to (appropriate) records, and “getting together” when the lean-to attached to the drug store was simply too small.  The club programs used it for skating and square dancing for all ages. 

But, as happens with most public space over time, it was reconfigured to meet changing needs. The club program also needed a craft shop. In 1956 it was housed in one room in Assembly Inn, clearly not an ideal solution. So, a wall was erected in the building, then known as the skating rink, to create the craft shop, rendering the remaining portion of the building much smaller.  As the club programs grew, skating was moved to the basement of McAlister Hall and square dances were often held there as well.

Enter Glenn Bannerman, who became the Program Director for Clubs in 1968. He quickly concluded that the basement of the gym was no place for square dances when right next door sat a building with a wooden floor. That summer several women spruced up the old skating rink with square dance decorations and a regular Friday night dance was opened to all ages. It was packed! The next year, when the old Boys’ Club Building was renovated to become the craft shop, the dividing wall was removed, leaving a much larger floor for dancing. The Stoney Creek Boys, whom Bannerman had hired in 1969 to play for a large square dance on the tennis courts for the World Missions Conference, began providing music for the Friday night dances. 

Thus began one of the most beloved traditions of Montreat – the Friday Night Barn Dance. It might be rainy and steamy, it might be chilly, or it might be a lovely mountain evening. No matter. Adults and children alike gather for traditional mountain dancing and, during breaks, novelty dances especially for the young ones.  If you live within a half-mile of The Barn you might as well walk to the event because the closest parking is liable to be in the Anderson Auditorium lot.  The Stoney Creek Boys still play on many nights, although the membership has changed a bit since 1969. Don’t know anyone? You will by the end of the evening. 

There have been modifications to the building since it was first erected in 1940:  the wall that created the craft shop, the removal of the same wall, an overhang at the doors, and tiered seating when you just can’t dance another round. Currently The Barn is undergoing a significant renovation to stabilize the building, improve ventilation and restrooms, and ensure that it remains a safe and friendly environment for future generations of Montreaters.

Thanks to the Presbyterian Heritage Center, especially Nancy Midgette, for this glimpse from the past. Stop by the PHC for additional Montreat history and so much more. Have an idea for a future “Did You Know?”? Let Nancy know at [email protected].

Updates and Reminders

  • The Montreat Landcare Committee will meet on Wednesday, May 1st at 9:00am in the Town Hall Community Room. The meeting will be live streamed. CLICK HERE for streaming instructions.
  • Do you receive your own copy of the Montreat Minute or know someone who doesn’t? Sign up for the Sunshine List to receive the Montreat Minute and stay “in the know” about the Town’s happenings. CLICK HERE to sign up for the list!

Questions or Comments?

Do you have Town-related questions or comments to offer? If so, please send them to Angie Murphy at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Have a great weekend!