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  December 8, 2006


By Beth Pleming
Staff writer

History is still being made in what many believe is the oldest standing house in Haywood County.

More than 200 years after Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Shook built his home in what has since become Clyde – the first frame house west of the Blue Ridge – the Shook-Smather’s House has entered into a new era, and wedding bells are ringing.

Dec.3 marks the first known wedding to ever take place in the home’s upper room chapel, according to Sarah queen Brown, a docent of the Shook Museum, located within the Shook-Smather’s House.

Hopefully, she added, it will be the first of many.

Like any couple in the process of planning a wedding, newlyweds Rhonda and John Yow said they were looking for a “special place” to tie the knot.

Both, self-acclaimed “history buffs,” the two settled on the Shook-Smather’s house because of what it represents.

“It is such a monument here in Haywood County, and we wanted something that was historical and has some type of meaning to it,” said Rhonda Yow. We chose to get married here because the house stood for something then and it’s still standing now just like we want our marriage to stand.”

The ceremony was held in the home’s third-floor upper room chapel.

The chapel was built as part of the original house around 1800, when Jacob Shook built the home on what was then frontierland,” Brown said. “There were no churches in the area at that time.”

Shook donated the third floor room of his home for religious services, Brown continued. In 1810, traveling Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury spent the night in the home, as recorded in his journal, and presumably preached there.

He was the first Methodist Bishop consecrated in North America, Brown said, and was sent here by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

“The house is sacred,” she said, “because it was built by Jacob Shook when there were no other religious facilities in the area.” The upper room chapel was dedicated at that time,” she added.

”John Yow said the home’s historical heritage evoked a sense of nostalgia.

“We could feel the pioneer spirit of those who were here before us,” he said. “The purity and simplicity of life as it was at that time … the Bible says ‘we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses,’ and that’s how I felt today, not only like we were enveloped by the love of our friends and family and of each other, but of the Spirit of the Lord and of the saints who have gone before. It’s a different feeling that you don’t get elsewhere. It makes you wonder about those who have been here before us.”

During childhood days, like many young girls day-dreaming of a wedding, Rhonda Yow, a Haywood County native, said she’s been entertaining similar thoughts for years.

“Growing up I always wanted to live here,” she said. “And I would often imagine the olden ladies – wearing hats and gloves – who used to live here.”

White wooden chairs accented the dark, wood-panels of the chapel’s walls and ceiling. Christmas greenery and white poinsettias adorned the antiquated pump organ and an old school desk (both permanent fixtures in the chapel), where unity candles sat behind a garland of berry-studded holly leaves.

Standing at the front of the chapel, between two windows, was an old wooden cross.
Almost simultaneously, both Rhonda and John described the experience as “beautifully humbling.”

“Even though the house is vacant, there is still so much life here,” Rhonda Yow said.

Following the wedding the couple entertained guests with a reception held in the home’s dining room.

The kitchen has been remodeled, Brown said, to accommodate such functions. It is the only fully-modernized room in the house.

“We are real thrilled to be getting married here,” John Yow said moments before the wedding. “With all the history here, it’s like we’re a part of it … it’s kinda like we’re stepping back in time. It’s a blessing from God. That’s what it is.