The original sawed-lumber timbers can be seen in
places, covered in Plexiglass.
"The entrance hallway ... presents itself as the
two confusing periods of this house, the early 1800s period and the 1890s,"
Hall said. For example, the upper portions of the wood are part of the
original house, while the wainscotting and the staircase come from a much
What visitors will get, when they visit what is officially known as
"The shook House Museum at the Shook-Smathers House," is not an exhibit
representative of a single time period. This, rather, is the story of
a house that evolved with time and with a change of owners, beginning as a
fairly simple square-hewn lumber house with a chapel on its third floor, to
a Victorian residence, enlarged and complemented with elegant details that
mark that period, including the outer porches and carved fireplace mantels.
It is also the story of a house that endured the changes of the modern age
-- from that false paneling that once covered the beautiful walls of the
main room to the arrival of electricity.
The main room still shows off some of the earliest electrical
wiring and a metal chandelier that dates from that period. When
electrical service was first offered in the region, homeowners did not want
to tear into their walls, so they ran wires along the outside of the walls
and also the ceiling. Such was the case that the Shook-Smathers house.
(The usable electrical wiring is well-hidden, up-to-date and fully meets
To help visitors understand what they see, trained docents will
offer tours in a few weeks. These guides will show off and explain the
features of the house and discuss the time period in which each feature
originated during a presentation that will take about an hour.
Despite the renovation and research, the house holds tight to her
secrets. Like many a lovely lady, she has refused to reveal her age.
Oral history has claimed the house goes back to the 1790s, when
stories claim Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Shook arrived in what is now
Clyde. Other historians have been more skeptical, believing the house
was built sometime after 1800. Hall had hoped to solve the mystery by
taking samples from the logs used as the foundation and having the samples
examined by a dendrologist, a specialist in dating wood and when it was
But the specialist at the University of Tennessee was unable to
date the Shook-Smathers House sample, Hall said. He could only report
that the wood was very old. A dendrologist compares wood and its
growth rings with other wood from the same period, wood with a known
history. The specialist could not find any other wood in Western North
Carolina old enough to use for a comparison.
Other mysteries include three very old and lovely Georgian doors
unusual for the period, and a question of where food was prepared for the
Shooks in the original house, whether over the fireplace, or outside.
The fire place in the main room was the only source of heat for the
original house. A small metal grill was placed in the ceiling at some
point to allow heat to rise to the second floor. Later, a
fireplace-like opening was made into the flue on the second floor for
another popular source of heating - Siegler "heatrolas."
The amount of furniture in the house is very limited, to show the
architecture of the structure, Hall said.
"We have been offered so many things, but the house will show very
few pieces, and those few are ones we know for certain have connections to
the Shooks and Smathers," he said.
The three-legged lecturn that stood for many years in the attic
chapel is now being restored and will soon be back in its place. It
does not date back to the earliest Methodist meetings in the house, Hall
said, but in fact was given to the family by the first post office of the
Hall has received much support for local citizens, he said,
including his volunteer curators. The Town of Clyde has supported the
Shook-Smathers house restoration, and Haywood Community College students
have volunteered their labor for the grounds as part of their education.
Anyone interested in the Shook-Smathers house is invited to the
preview opening this Saturday. For more information on the house and
its restoration, visit its website at www.shookmuseum.org.