As I get older, that old adage seems to ring true more and more often. I’m constantly surprised that things long put away and, maybe, forgotten can come back into vogue and that in doing so, become all the more valuable, more viable and even more important.
So it is at Engadine!
As most of our guests already know, Engadine has a rich and colorful history. Built in 1885 as the home of Captain John Keyes Hoyt and his family, Engadine was also a successful winery, producing wines that were served in some of Asheville’s most important restaurants, hotels and homes, including at Biltmore. And, because it was located adjacent to the Western North Carolina Railroad and the nearby Turnpike Inn, it was also at the heart of the social scene as it existed in Western Buncombe County at that time.
Guests might also recall that Captain Hoyt and his family kept meticulous diaries and journals of the lives they lead while living at Engadine. There are also a few nascent photos. And while those chronicles tell much of the story, they do not tell them all. For example, they do not tell us much about the physical property itself…the stories of how the place was built, how the “state-of-the-art” electrical, plumbing and heating systems was designed and worked, exactly where the winery was and the details of how it operated, nor about how folks came and went from Engadine (except by way of the railroad).
As for the later, there was a general, but not specific, knowledge of the routing of the “road” that ran west from Asheville through Hominy Valley and the narrow “gap” in front of what is now the Inn. Nor were there specific descriptions of how guests arrived at the Hoyt’s mansion. Vague references suggest a “cutoff” from that road…much like and exit ramp…became Engadine’s historic driveway and approach to the front of the house. But exactly where this driveway was and how it serviced the house were lost to history and to the encroaching underbrush and ivy that overtook the land.
That is, until today!
Just recently, the North Carolina DOT announced plans to make improvements to Smoky Park Highway (US 19/23 South)…improvements that would impact only Engadine’s side of the road. The original design plan described what “seemed” to be a reasonable solution to adding a walking/biking lane to the south side of the highway. But, armed with the “general” knowledge we had of the location of the historic driveway and entrance, we decided to put our maintenance crew to work to find this important historical artifact of Engadine. We wanted to make certain that the DOT’s work would not damage any of the important architectural features.
Low and behold, what we found was amazing! Not only did we discover the location and trajectory of the historic driveway, we also uncovered the original stone retaining walls defining the wide, brink-lined carriage landing, the stone staircase leading from the carriage landing to the level of the house and the remnants of a stone-lined walking path connecting the driveway to the road. Further into the excavation, we also uncovered a perfectly circular shallow “pool” of some kind…a pool we assume was a horse watering trough below the carriage landing and adjacent to what was most likely the road from Asheville west to Turnpike. We’re including a few photos so you can enjoy our discovery for yourself!
To say we were excited would be an understatement! But, more importantly, the discovery and reporting of these “old” architectural features has caused the DOT to reconsider its design of the impending improvements to the highway. Engadine’s historic designation will require that the DOT consider other design plans…plans that will protect the property’s historic architectural features.
So, you see, what’s “old” really can be new again!