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July 26, 2006

Hall named honorary citizen of Clyde
By Peggy Manning
Senior staff writer


Clyde – The man who restored the Shook-Smathers house was honored Monday with a key to the town as an honorary citizen of Clyde.

Joseh S. Hall of Washington, DC, a retired professor of European history, purchased the Shook-Smathers house three years ago.

“Don’t you think I’m not going to speak up, now that I’m a citizen,” Hall told Clyde Mayor Jerry Walker.

A crowd gathered in the new welcome center built adjacent to the Shook Museum on Morgan Street in Clyde to honor Hall for restoring the “historic pride of Clyde.”

“This was God’s intended use for this house,” the Rev. Randy Tingle, pastor of Clyde Central United Methodist Church, said of the Shook-Smathers house.

Hall’s great-great-great-grandfather, Jacob Shook, built the earliest portion of the house about 1795 on land he was granted for service in the American Revolution, said Sharon Shook, great-great-great-granddaughter of Jacob Shook.
Shook was one of the first settlers in Western North Carolina, she said.

The Shook house became a stop for traveling Methodist preachers, including Francis Asbury. Asbury was the first bishop of the Methodist Church of America.

Before he died in 1839, Jacob Shook donated land for the church. A log building was constructed and named Louisa Chapel, after his granddaughter. Louisa Chapel still holds worship services and is the oldest Methodist Church in Haywood County.

William Welch bought Shook’s house in 1839 for $1,200, but never lived in it, Sharon Shook said.

In 1850, Levi and Sally Smathers bought the house. In the late 1800s, Levi Smathers had the house enlarged, doubling its size.

Levi’s son, I.I.L. “Dock” Smathers, inherited the house in 1896. Mary Smathers Morgan, the daughter of Dock and Mattie Killian Smathers, inherited the house in 1937 and lived in the Shook-Smathers house until 1981.

Mary’s daughter, Ruth Jones, is one of the three owners who sold the house in a double transaction, first to the N.C. Preservation Trust, then immediately to Hall.

“There is no question in our minds that God’s providence was at work,” Sharon Shook said. “Who better to buy and restore the house that a descendant?”

Hall acknowledged that history has come full circle.

“Most people would laugh and wonder why in the world would this guy buy this house.” Hall said. The answer, he said, is the immense public interest in the house.

 
“Your presence shows you value this house,” Hall told the crowd.

As part of the purchase agreement, Hall said he signed a protective covenant, vowing to protect the property.

He has done that by sinking about $500,000 into the restoration of the house and construction of the new welcome center.

Tours to the Shook Museum will begin at the welcome center, since handicap accessible restrooms could not be constructed in the museum, Hall said.

The Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey said Jacob Shook’s hospitality is as much a part of history as the house he built.“The connections to Methodism and the Shook family is significant,” McCleskey said. “It was that kind of hospitality that opened up opportunities for preachers. It’s because of Asbury that there are so many Methodist churches in this area.”

Haywood Community College students provided most of the landscaping of the Shook museum property.Another gift was presented Monday. Sarah Martin donated an organ to the museum, which was placed in the third floor room where religious services were held during Jacob Shook’s lifetime.
 
Although the Shook Museum normally accepts only original artifacts of the house, Hall said the organ donated by Martin is very similar to one that was owned by Jacob Shook.The Shook Museum is a regular stop on a tour bus trail, Hall said.

The shook Museum board of directors includes Hall as chairman, Frank Hall as vice-chairman, Bob Smith, secretary, David Conrad, treasurer, Kathleen Hall, Dr and Mrs. William Campbell, Joel Martin, Ray Rhinehart, Sharon Shook, George Thomas and Patrick Willis. Honorary members are Mrs. Earl Hunt and Peggy Green.
 
The Clyde Historic preservation Committee includes Sara Queen Brown, chairwoman; Jewell Beall, Judy Ferguson, Sharon Shook and Wanda Winecoff.

Frances Hart is the volunteer director for the museum. Museum docents include Sara Queen Brown, Sammi Burress, Pat Caldwell, Louise Harrison, Suzanne Langford, Sharon Shook, Edie Thurman and Jim Thurman.

Tours of the museum are available at 10a.m. on Saturdays. Groups can arrange a tour at other times by appointment, by calling 877-620-2300 or by e-mailing info@shookmuseum.org.

Peggy Manning can be reached at 452-0661, ext. 127, or at paggy@themountaineer.com.