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Monday, March 24, 2003

Shook-Smathers House restoration planned

Descendent of Jacob Shook plans Museum at landmark Clyde structure.

Clyde – Perhaps the oldest structure in North Carolina will be preserved in perpetuity, thanks to Joseph S. Hall, of Washington, D.C., the great, great, great-grandson of Jacob Shook.

   Although he now resides in the nation’s capital where he lives in a 1910 Capital Hill townhouse, Hall is intensely interested in restoring the Shook-Smathers House to its original condition and opening it as a house museum.

   Built by Jacob Shook in 1795 and known as the Shook House, it was originally a three-story, sawn-board structure, the third floor containing a chapel where the family worshiped.

   It was here that Bishop Francis Asbury organized the first Methodist church in Haywood County in 1810.  The property also was the site of Methodist camp meetings held on Shook’s Camp Ground.  Long vacant, the house still holds its precious chapel with its original sawn-board walls.

   In the late 19th century, the house was substantially enlarged.  Wrapped around the original sawn-board siding was a structure of clap-board siding, creating twice the space of the former dwelling and elaborated with a two—tiered gallery porch.

   Hall plans to create a museum of American architecture featuring two distinct eras: One, the 1795 federal period with its exposed beams and timbers, and two, the 1895 Victorian period.  To be opened some after the restoration is complete, the house museum will enable the public to see the structure as it was originally built.

   Hall learned that the Shook-Smathers House was available when he saw Preservation North Carolina’s advertisement in “Preservation,” a publication of the National Register of Historic Properties, featuring a photograph of the house.  He recognized it immediately.  Preservation North Carolina, a non-profit organization, acquired the Shook-Smathers House and sold it to Hall with protective covenants to ensure the house’s long term preservation.

   For more information about historic properties available for restoration and an introductory copy of the magazine, contact Preservation North Carolina at P.O. Box 27644, Raleigh, NC 27611-7644, by phone at 918/832-3652, or visit the web site at www.PreservationNC.org.

   Since 1939, Preservation North Carolina has protected and reserved hundreds of buildings and landscapes important to the heritage of North Carolina.

   As North Carolina’s only statewide nonprofit preservation organization, PNC protects historic properties by identifying, purchasing and reselling them through its highly effective Endangered Properties Program.

   It also promotes preservation through its stewardship properties, educational programs, public recognition program, videos and publications.  PNC is supported through the generosity of over 5,000 members.  Members receive a bi-annual magazine, which features properties for sale and articles of interest.

Note: Hall remembers how the resident owner, Mary Smathers Morgan, loved the home as he grew up, went to high school, and left Asheville.  He eventually retired as a college professor with a doctorate in European history.