Historic Preservation Committee
Bethel Rural Community Organization (BRCO) has had two committees devoted to historic preservation: the Heritage Committee which conducted the Cold Mountain Heritage Tour from 2005–2011 and the Historic Preservation Committee.
The Historic Preservation Committee has been involved, since 2005, with other aspects of historic preservation. The committee developed a DVD, Walking in the Footsteps of Those Who Came before Us, in 2008. The DVD has been nominated for the Paul Greene Multi-Media Award with the North Carolina Society of Historians. A second DVD is being produced over the next couple of years.
The Historic Preservation Committee also assisted in collecting material and putting together the six books of Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain, a Pigeon Valley Heritage series, written by committee chair, Evelyn Coltman. The books won the Barringer Award of Excellence presented by the North Carolina Society of Historians in 2010.
In addition to the books and the DVD, the committee has been involved with the following historic preservation endeavors:
- Worked with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the community to arrive at a decision to save Truss Bridge #79, North Carolina’s oldest working truss bridge.
- Devised a Table of Contents for the 1992 publication, Pigeon Valley, a collection by teacher Cheryl Inman Haney’s school class, and reprinted dozens of copies. All funds from the sale of the book were donated to Bethel Middle School Library. The book is currently out of print.
- Initiated meetings with Preservation NC, the organization designated to assist individuals and groups with preserving and restoring historic structures. Ted Stevens toured 22 sites in Bethel Community to outline a preservation priority list for BRCO.
- The Office of Cultural Resources of the North Carolina Department of Preservation met with Historic Preservation Committee members to determine suitable sites for both North Carolina Department of Transportation historic signage designation and National Register of Historic Places designation. Sites toured include Truss Bridge #79, Inman Chapel, the Joseph Turner and Martha Anna Iva Killian House, and Bethel Presbyterian Church.
- After participating in meetings with the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) in conjunction with the development of a Heritage Plan for Haywood County, Bethel Rural was deemed eligible to participate in acquiring a grant from BRNHA. Since that meeting BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee Chair, Evelyn Coltman, wrote a grant to secure National Register of Historic Places designation for Francis Mill. Tanna Timbes, George Ivey, Emily Henson, and Patrick Willis assisted with the process. The grant process is still in progress. BRCO, Francis Mill Preservation Society, Haywood County Historical & Genealogical Society, and Mast General Store funded the matching grant.
- The Historic Preservation Committee filed the nomination, and Tanna Timbes, Francis Mill, and the Francis Mill Preservation Society received Preservation NCs Gertrude S. Carraway Award for historic preservation of Francis Mill.
- The Historic Preservation Committee initiated a historic marker program for worthy sites in the community not eligible for state historic designation. Osborne Boundary Oak, Bethel Presbyterian Church, and Lenoir’s Creek Devon Farm have received their historic markers. Committee member, Ted Carr, designed the markers. State Farm Insurance Agency assisted with the Osborne Boundary Oak sign.
- BRCO spearheaded a county-wide effort to salvage the historic Osborne Boundary Oak tree. North Carolina Department of Transportation representatives, Haywood Community College delegates, and individuals in the community have come together to see that the historic tree receives routine health maintenance. Dr. Doris Hammett and BRCO representative, Evelyn Coltman, were featured in a television segment concerning the tree. Historic Preservation Committee member, Ernestine Upchurch, researched and wrote a history of the tree.
- The committee conducted a massive clean-up of the Joshua & Adeline Kinsland House, calling in Preservation specialist - Jennifer Cathey, architectural historian - Camille Well, antique dealer - Mary Hardin, and family members to record the history. Julianne Kuykendall researched and wrote the history of the house and the Kinsland family.
- BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee wrote a letter in support of Inman Chapel’s application to receive a state historic marker. The marker was dedicated during the 2011 Cold Mountain Heritage Tour.
- The Historic Preservation Committee held an art competition to select participants to paint historic sites from Bethel. Nick De Paolo painted the exterior of the historic Bethel Presbyterian Church, Janis Swanger painted Lenoir’s Creek Devon Farm, and Gary Woolard painted the interior of the historic Bethel Presbyterian Church. Paintings will decorate the walls of the BRCO dining hall. Prints of the paintings will eventually be available for purchase.
- Blue Ridge National Heritage Area selected Bethel Rural Community Organization as one of five organizations in Haywood County that was eligible to apply for a BRNHA sign to be placed at BRCO’s headquarters at Bethel Presbyterian Church. The application has been submitted and is awaiting approval. Listing with BRNHA will allow BRCO to have its information publicized in all national parks, visitor centers, and public locations with which BRNHA is affiliated.
- The Historic Preservation Committee is initiating a local historical education lecture series in cooperation with Bethel Elementary and Bethel Middle Schools. Speakers selected by the committee with expertise in several areas of local history will be able to convey that history to students as a part of the school’s history curriculum.
- Historic Preservation Committee members have presented programs to the Haywood County Historical & Genealogical Society and to other civic organizations concerning Bethel’s unique history.