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Old houses often guard many secrets.  The Shook-Smathers House in Clyde, N. C. is a "grand old lady" who has cleverly hidden her true age from the many who have tried to learn it.

On September 12, 2008 this house was given Historic Preservation status by being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 
Historically, we know that this fascinating old two-and-a-half story frame House was built in two different periods.  Factual records tell us that the large Smathers addition to and remodeling of the original structure was done in the 1890s.  Try as they may, however, authorities cannot determine the date of the original, older Shook portion of the House. 
 
After one historian studied the House for over a year, the oral history date of 1795 was questioned.  We do know by official records that a man by the name of Jacob Shook bought two parcels of land in the Pigeon River area of what is now Haywood County, North Carolina.  These purchases appear in the records of what was then Buncombe County prior to the formation of Haywood County two hundred years ago.  These records place Jacob Shook in the area prior to 1795 as a resident and as a landowner. 
 
It is known from official records that Jacob Shook married Isabella Weitzel; together they had eleven children, so they had to have had a home somewhere in the vicinity.  It is known that there were two Shook homes.  We know that one was the home of Jacob's son Peter and his wife Mahalia.  It is also of record that this was a one-and-one-half story dwelling which burned in the 1970s. 
 
  After the 1795 date for the Shook House was questioned, the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office appointed a "Blue Ribbon" committee of four specialists to study the House.  After a very careful examination of three fine Georgian doors found in the original portion of the House, and after extensive study of the nails, hinges and other building elements of the House, the Committee concluded that the House was constructed cr. 1810-20.
 
Several others have offered valuable insight as to the age of the Shook House.  During the recent extensive rescue/renovation of the property, a consulting historic architect was constantly involved in the project.  It is her opinion that the original structure was begun quite early and that it "grew" {was enlarged} over time even before leaving the Shook ownership.  One of the most interesting studies of the House was recently done by the Senior Architect at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  A Preservation Specialist from the Asheville Office of the NC Historic Preservation Office also made a study-visit to the House.
 
While both the Hargrove House and the Radcliff House, also frame houses, are still standing, most authorities agree with Preservation, North Carolina's claim that the Shook- Smathers House is the oldest frame structure still standing west of the Blue Ridge.
 
Unlike most house museums we visit, the Shook Museum does not feature a lot of beautiful old furniture.  Instead, this House features mainly its unique architecture, construction and native materials used to build it.  Because the early portion of the house was built in what was then open frontier territory, the builder used materials available right there on his own land.  In this part of the house white pine, red oak, hemlock, apple, yellow pine, chestnut and cherry wood has been found. 
 

  Several outstanding structural elements should be noted throughout the House.  In the 1890s remodeling, done by the Smathers family, a great deal of attention was given to the dining room.  Note the handsome beamed ceiling, the paneling capped by the plate rail, and the fine fireplace - a good example of mountain craftsmanship.  Especially interesting is the paneled fireplace wall in the second floor Quilting Room.



 

Many consider the third-floor Chapel to be the most outstanding architectural element in the House.  With its plain, wide-board walls, its sloped, knee wall ceiling and the fine stairwell banister, the Chapel presents a feeling of rustic reverence.  Oral tradition says that Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop consecrated in North America spoke in this Chapel.  Though there is no record of this, Asbury did record in his journal that he spent a night at the home of "Father Shook" in 1812.  
 
When the Museum acquired the House from the previous owner, its three plus acres were a "wilderness" of 20 plus years of unattended vegetation and growth.  After much effort, and help from Haywood Community College personnel and others, the grounds now are a fitting setting for this fascinating old House - the "Historic Pride of Clyde."

The recent rescue/restoration included installation of a catering kitchen.  The facility is available for rent for small affairs, parties, receptions, etc.  The first and second floors of the house are handicapped accessible.