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Hidden no longer, historic spring is now a mini-park

Workers clean out a stream flowing from the spring, part of a trail connection from Hebron Road to Echo Circle in middle Laurel Park. Workers clean out a stream flowing from the spring, part of a trail connection from Hebron Road to Echo Circle in middle Laurel Park.

LAUREL PARK — On a recent Saturday, Scouts used shovels and rakes to clean out a stream and fought brambles and bushes into submission around what until recently was a hidden piece of Laurel Park’s colorful history.

The focus of the town’s newest pocket park is Glenn Rock Springs, an improved water supply that dates back to the earliest days of the “Town on a Mountain.”
The spring is believed to be the work of two early developers from Jacksonville, Florida.
“They created the Echo Mountain subdivision,” said Town Council member Paul Hansen. It was the first subdivision up the mountain after town founder W.A. Smith developed springs, lakes and other amenities in lower Laurel Park.
John H. Patterson built the large home that became the Echo Mountain Inn as a summer residence around 1896. The property has changed hands numerous times since Patterson built his summer retreat, serving as a tea room, a camp for girls and, since 1935, an inn. The Echo Mountain subdivision came 16 years after Patterson first arrived, when he and a partner named Ives laid out the lots.
“They built the spring called Glenn Rock Springs to supply water to the subdivision they created,” Hansen said. “It’s a nice free flowing mountain spring. They built a retaining reservoir to hold the water and that’s how that was developed.”

Owners donate land

SpringScoutsScouts from troops 601 and 603 and friends pose at Glenn Rock Spring, the newly discovered spring that dates to a subdivision formed in Laurel Park around 1912. Asher Hicks, in Scout uniform, is leading the cleanup as his Eagle project.Hansen, a kind of unofficial historian of the town, researched the initial platting of the subdivision back to 1912. “What I found was that a number of lots had access rights to this spring,” he said. During the Depression, many lots in Laurel Park went into foreclosure or changed hands, often in bulk transactions. “A lot of things got lost from the deed perspective. It was a big mess.”
Sometime last year, it was discovered that an adjoining property owner had been listed as property owners and had been paying taxes on the springs property, though it was supposed to belong to the town. “Glenn Rock Springs, if you look at the plat, has always been a reserve,” and not a residential lot, Hansen said.
The owners — David and Lynn McArthur, William R. Johnson Jr., Annette and Dan Funk, John Samuel Johnson, Ann Staton von Doenhoff and Nancy K. and R.C. Staton Jr. — agreed to a generous solution. They deeded the deep and narrow lot to the town as a gift.

‘Unrecognizable from the way it was’

The spring was so overgrown that it took several hikes around the lot below Echo Circle to find it. After weeks of work by the town’s Parks & Greenways Committee and the scouts, a new nature park has emerged.
SpringJoanneBrownJenny Brown“It’s unrecognizable from the way it was before,” Jenny Brown, chair of the greenways committee, said as she swept an arm around the clearing. “Vines were just all over the trees. It was all overgrown. You could not stand here and see what you see now. This has all been cleared.”
A crew led by Life scout Asher Hicks peeled off layers of ivy to unveil the spring, carried off branches and liberated the stream from a tangle of brush. The son of Drs. John and Anna Hicks, Asher’s work supervising the Glenn Rock Springs cleanup is serving as his Eagle project in Troop 603. Scouts from his troop and Troop 601 and classmates from the nature-centric French Broad River Academy in Asheville have helped with the project.
The Laurel Park Town Council and its Parks & Greenways Committee are committed to an ambitious network of trails designed to eventually connect existing and new walkways from Laurel Green at the base of the hill to Jump Off Rock at the top.
“One, it can be a destination, for people that live in the neighborhood, walk the dog or come and have a cup of coffee, or sit and enjoy the view,” Brown said of the new pocket park and its star, the historic spring. “But we are also working on a network of trails throughout the town of Laurel Park and just on the other side of Hebron is one of our trails, so we’re hoping this will be a connector between walking trails up in here to our network of loops we’re working on.”
A retired prosecutor from South Florida, Brown served as an associate deputy attorney general under Eric Holder, who was deputy attorney general under Janet Reno in the Clinton administration.
“I put bad guys in jail,” she said.
Her parents first bought property here in the 1950s.
“Typical kind of South Floridian thing where, before air travel, you got in your car and this was the first place you could get cool,” Brown said. Nancy McKinley, a member of the Laurel Park Town Council, is her older sister. After doing “the half and half thing, we said, ‘Why don’t we just go?’” Her husband moved his business to Laurel Park. Now settled in to her “happy place,” Brown enjoys working on trails when she’s not busy raising her twins, who are sophomores at Hendersonville High School. She’s looking for more help.
“If you want to work outside for the benefit of the community we can use your time,” she says.

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Anyone who would like to volunteer to help the Laurel Park Parks & Greenway Committee may call town hall at 828-696-4948.