Projects Timeline

Historic Preservation Committee's Yearly Projects

  • Consulted with Adam Griffin, Project Director for the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR) concerning the potential for collaboration with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) regarding filming of Garden Creek Archaeological site in Bethel.
  • Added a painting of the second Piney Grove United Methodist Church by artist, A.E. Allen, to BRCO’s art print collection at the community center and to the website for purchase. The white clapboard chapel existed from 1900 – 1949 when the building burned. Members replaced the structure with the current brick building that exists today in Stamey Cove.
  • Met with Jack Thomson, Western Regional Director of Preservation North Carolina, to assess the potential for BRCO’s community center – the former Bethel Presbyterian Church – to receive protective covenants/easements under the auspices of PNC. Considering that the structure is the “Mother Presbyterian Church of Haywood County,” and that the facility serves as a vital assembly edifice for the community, Thomson indicated that PNC oversight of protective covenants would meet approval. An agreement would mean that the building would remain viable in a good state of repair and in its present state in perpetuity. The agreement requires BRCO approval.
  • Added the Joseph Augustus and Mary Shook Hargrove House to the website under the historic sites section. The 1916 house on Highway #215 retains original features of the home as well as unique outbuildings.
  • BRCO has performed maintenance at Pigeon Gap Watering Hole atop Waynesville Mountain since 2013 when the Historic Preservation Committee performed oversight duties of a restoration project that earned Joey Rolland his Eagle Scout award in 2013. We uncovered the agreement, brokered by Haywood County Historical & Genealogical Society, between the seller of the land to its current owner which permits access for maintenance. While there is no mention of access requirement for visitation, BRCO has come to an agreement with the current owner to allow visitation via a removable chain beside the gate.
  • BRCO members spent an afternoon at Pigeon Gap Watering Hole removing overgrowth of ivy and moss that covered the rock wall constructed by Community Club of Waynesville in 1924. We also cleaned the historic site signage installed by BRCO in 2016.
  • Added a fourth cemetery listing to the “Bethel Cemeteries, Churchyards, and Graveyards” section of the BRCO website: Long’s Community Cemetery. Church members established the cemetery in 1889, with additional plot availability expanded in the 1970s. Long’s Community Cemetery is located on Coffey Branch Road in Bethel.
  • Received information from Charlie Evans at Long’s United Methodist Church about the history of the church in the “Golden Memories” booklet that celebrated one hundred years (1890 – 1990).
  • Added the following writers involved with “Golden Memories” to the Bethel Writers and Media Contributors section of the BRCO website: Mrs. John Blalock, Maude Mae Blalock, Frances Denton, Carolyn Harkins, Hilda Kinsland, Lois Kinsland, Barbara Medford, Clementine Murry, Hazel Rollins, Rosa Shipman, Mrs. Harry Singleton, and Margaret Swanger.
  • Added Frances Blalock Denton’s 1994, two volume, nine-hundred-page collection, My Children’s Children: The Murry Clan, to the Bethel Writers and Media Contributors of the BRCO website.
  • Added a fifth cemetery, the Michal Cemetery, to the website in the Bethel cemeteries section. The two-acre cemetery was a gift of the Michal family from the Episcopal Diocese of WNC in the 1880s. The first to be interred were Thomas Isaac Lenoir and Lizie Lenoir. Thomas Isaac Lenoir was a founder of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Waynesville. The diocese donated a third acre to the Bethel Methodist Church, and the Methodist congregation built the first parsonage on the third acre in approximately 1900. The parsonage is now the Donald and Reba McCracken House on Birdsong Trail.
  • Added Emily Michal Gentry to the Bethel Writers section of the website for her book, The Michal Family Cemetery. The book documents every person interred at the cemetery.
  • Honored Hugh K. Terrell, Jr. with the Pigeon Valley Award for Historic Preservation for his oversight of the 1978 student book, Sonoma – Valley of the Moon – Sunburst. BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee has reprinted this Foxfire-style book of interviews, photographs, and drawings that can be purchased via the BRCO website.
  • Added the home of Hugh K. and Emily Michal Terrell to the Historic Sites of Bethel section of the website. The Thomas Lenoir and Emily Frances Michal House was built around 1925. Michal hand forged the railing for the house that includes one-foot-thick walls of rock from the Pigeon River.
  • Videographer Doug Chambers continued filming of the Historic Schools of Bethel DVD that is scheduled for release in 2024. Haywood County’s first Superintendent of Public Schools, the Reverend R.A. Sentelle (Superintendent from 1881-1891 and from 1901-1921), was from Bethel. The latest Superintendent, Dr. Trevor Putnam, is from Bethel. We filmed Dr. Putnam and the new Principal, Amanda Watson, at Bethel Elementary School campus. They discussed the history of the school as well as the unique environmental components designed into the construction of the facility. We also filmed music teacher, Angela McHenry, who discussed the importance of music in early childhood education. Four kindergarten students participated by singing the “ABC Song.”
  • Conducted a filming at the former Cecil School by members of the Schott family (current owners of the home housed in the former school) and others who attended the school.
  • Filmed four ladies for the Historic Schools of Bethel DVD at Silver Bluff Village about their memories of Bethel School, Cecil School, and Spring Hill School.
  • Members of the Historic Preservation Committee met with Debbie Bevin, NCDOT Senior Architectural Historian, and her assistant, Pofue Yang, to document historic sites near Bridge #169 on Sonoma Road and #170 on Max Thompson Road. The bridges are scheduled for updating or replacement. The group toured the grounds of the Captain James Allen and Nancy Louisa Cathey Blaylock House and the former Bethel Presbyterian Church (BRCO community center).
  • NCDOT Architectural Historian, Debbie Bevin, and assistant, Pofue Yang, met with descendants of the men who moved Truss Bridge #79 to its current location on Lake Logan Road. Danny Barrett, Tracy Hargrove, and Steve Sorrells are descended from the original bridge movers. Carroll Jones was also at the meeting because of his successful National Register of Historic Places application for Truss Bridge #79. The group met in honor of the sixth local historic marker placed by BRCO’s Historic Preservation Committee. A newspaper article featuring the story was featured in “The Mountaineer.”
  • Evelyn Coltman met with Carroll Jones and Phil Paxton to begin research into the 1930 murder of Bud Miller by James Sheffield in 1933. Sheffield was executed for the murder.
  • Haywood County Historical & Genealogical Society, Silver Bluff Village Nursing Home, and BRCO have searched for the location of the County Home Cemetery for years. No one knew the location of the cemetery that accommodated those who were housed and died at the County Home (home for indigent Haywood County residents) from 1911 – 1952. We consulted with Jennifer Cathey (NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources),Lisa Leatherwood (owner of Silver Bluff Village – location of the former County Home), Lora Jones (owner of Loralei Inn), Kevin Ensley (county commissioner and surveyor), regarding the location of the County Home Cemetery. Kevin Ensley provided a map that pinpointed the precise location of the property. Lora Jones allowed a tour of the property by Frances Adamson, Evelyn Coltman, and Carol Litchfield with BRCO and Lisa Leatherwood with Silver Bluff Village. She indicated that the gravesites were removed in the 1980s by her mother, Judy Jones. So, the mystery of the location was solved, but where are the remains? Carol Litchfield consulted with the Register of Deeds office, but that office had no record of remains removals. Litchfield has also contacted NC State and the Department of Archives and History regarding the removal. Though there is more work to do, we have added the County Home Cemetery to our Bethel Cemeteries section of the website.


  • Nick Mountcastle, Senior Project Manager with NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT), contacted the Historic Preservation Committee regarding one of two truss bridges in Haywood County: Truss Bridge #246. Truss Bridge #79 and Truss Bridge #246 are the only remaining metal truss bridges in Haywood County and two of only twenty-five remaining Pratt through truss bridges in the state as of the 1997 bridge survey. Truss Bridge #79 was saved as a walking bridge in 2013 and earned the National Register of Historic Places designation in 2019. Current owners near the property of Truss Bridge #246 have requested a new bridge to replace the 1920s river crossing on Steel Bridge Road. Carol Litchfield consulted with Mountcastle regarding details concerning the bridge replacement as well as the future status of Truss Bridge #246.


  • Filming of The Historic Schools of Bethel video project began in 2016 and will conclude this year. Videographer Doug Chambers and Historic Preservation Committee Chair Evelyn Coltman visited houses, schools, churches, pastures, and other settings to interview and record individuals whose special knowledge allows us to capture Bethel’s unique educational history.
  • Videographer Doug Chambers retrieved filming sessions by the late Reverend Bill Terrell, and the Historic Preservation Committee presented those to the Terrell family in memory of a valued member of the committee.
  • The committee exchanged emails and participated in a conference call with NCDOT bridge, highway, and preservation officials to discuss the fate of Truss Bridge #246 – one of only ten remaining Pratt through truss bridges in the state and one of two in Haywood County. Both are located in Bethel. NCDOT indicated that the bridge will be replaced because its restoration would require too much expense, and expense for upkeep would have to be turned over to Haywood County. NCDOT considered that it had saved one historic bridge but was unwilling to save another – even though one of its historians indicated that it was National Register of Historic Places worthy.
  • The committee has begun researching archival and genealogical records of those buried in the County Home Cemetery, thanks to the efforts of Roxie Billings. There is a dispute about the status of the small cemetery plot that was the final resting place of deceased individuals who had resided at the county’s “poor folks home” that existed in Bethel from 1911-1952. The current owner of the property surrounding the cemetery believes that all remains were relocated in the 1980s. County Commissioner, Kevin Ensley, is also a surveyor and considers that the remains may not have been removed. Neighboring county governments, Jackson and Buncombe, have restored their County Home Cemeteries and are attempting to document remains. The committee believes that that type of consideration for the Haywood County Home Cemetery is appropriate.
  • Historic Preservation Committee member, Roxie Billings, is conducting genealogical research about the twenty-eight known people who are/were buried at the County Home Cemetery.
  • The committee is beginning to research the topic, “Murders in Bethel.” Member Cheryl Haney has uncovered several murders that occurred in the Sunburst logging village. Roxie Billings has uncovered a murder that has ties to a County Home Cemetery resident, and another murder connected to a teacher while the first Superintendent of Public Schools who was from Bethel, the Reverend R. A. Sentelle, was present.
  • The committee will continue to investigate the Bud Miller murder by James Sheffield that occurred in the Ark Park section of Bethel in the early 1930s.
  • The family of the 2022 recipient of the Pigeon Valley Award for Historic Preservation, Mack Ledbetter, donated Ledbetter’s book of photos about Sunburst to the committee. The group has framed “Sunburst Surround” which will be added to the website and to the dining hall gallery
  • Phyllis Vance and the Canton Area Historical Museum donated two 1920s era photographs of Garden Creek School students at the schoolhouse that existed off Lindsey Drive in the Center Pigeon section of Bethel.
  • Doug Chambers filmed students from Bethel Middle School band and chorus. Their rendition of the “A-B-C Song” and “Bethel the Beautiful” will provide transition between filming segments in the Historic Schools of Bethel video.
  • Mike McLean and Evelyn Coltman presented a program to the Saunook Community Organization about the Historic Preservation Committee’s Sunburst DVD.
  • Steven Tingle is included in the “Bethel Writers and Media Contributors” portion of the website under the “About Bethel Community” header. Tingle’s family lived at what is today’s Springdale Country Club while his parents were overseers. Tingle is a South Carolina journalist, freelance writer specializing in travel, style and drink, and a novelist. He is a member of the Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, and Myster Writers of America. His first novel, Graveyard Fields, is set in Cruso.