November 26, 2007


Oldest House in Haywood County Provides a Look at the Past December 1
By Kim Gardner

Stepping into the Shook-Smathers House in Clyde is like getting a glimpse into Haywood County’s past.

As the oldest standing home in the county, the Shook-Smathers House gives visitors an idea of what houses were like at the turn of two centuries ago.

The original structure was constructed sometime between 1795 and 1800, by Jacob Shook, a Revolutionary War veteran. Shook built the three-story house in Clyde, dedicating the top level to be used as a chapel.

The chapel was used for prayer and received Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop consecrated in America, in 1810. Asbury spent the night at the Shook house and it is reported that he preached there, as well.

About 50 years after Shook built the house, it was sold to Sallie and Levi Smathers. The Smathers family constructed an addition onto the house, creating the structure that exists today.

Members of the Smathers family lived in the home until 1981. It then sat vacant for years until Joseph Shook Hall, a descendent of Jacob Shook, purchased the house in 2002 and began renovations.

There is little furniture in the house, giving visitors a peek at architectural designs from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the original sitting room of the house, the outline of the original staircase can be seen behind the door. There are also three interior doors that are still in place from the time Shook hung them.

Docents guide visitors through the house, providing the history of the two families, as well as the house and restoration efforts.

Since the renovations were completed, the Shook-Smathers house is available for rentals for special occasions, such as weddings or family reunions.

The kitchen is the only room in the house that is modern. The facilities in that room were updated to give those who rent the house convenience and ease in preparing meals.

Each room also contains memorabilia from the two families, which includes clothing, photographs and even a hand-written receipt for the purchase of several slaves.

On Dec. 1 and 2, a Christmas at the Shook-Smathers House takes place. The event features an old-fashioned Christmas like the ones the original home occupants would have celebrated. A Jacob Shook impersonator reads the holiday classic, "’Twas the Night Before Christmas" at 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Pick up tickets at Clyde town hall.

Tickets are free, but are necessary to ensure the crown is dispersed, said Sara Brown, a docent at the museum.

In addition to the house, there is a gift shop where visitors can purchase a variety of items, including Shook-Smathers House memorabilia.

The Shook-Smathers House is located at 178 Morgan Street, Clyde, and is open for tours at 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The gift shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (877)620-2300 or visit