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Historic Flat Rock dedicates museum

Victoria Flanagan cuts the ribbon for the grand opening as Chris Battista looks on. [NATASHA TOWNSEND/Hendersonville Lightning] Victoria Flanagan cuts the ribbon for the grand opening as Chris Battista looks on. [NATASHA TOWNSEND/Hendersonville Lightning]

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FLAT ROCK — Lovers of history celebrated the county’s latest effort to preserve the past with the official opening of the Historic Flat Rock Cultural Center and Museum on Saturday, June 3.
The Cultural Center contains relics of Flat Rock that have been in the hands of many generations of locals as well as artifacts from tourists who visited Flat Rock in the summers. Donations to the Museum can be from anyone from anywhere, said Victoria Flanagan, the vice president of the Historic Flat Rock Inc. As long as the artifact has ties to the Flat Rock community or its residents, it can find a home in the museum.
“I’m the person who oversaw the refurbishing of this building,” Flanagan said. “This is the original post office for Flat Rock. Historic Flat Rock Inc. has been a nonprofit since 1968, so next year will be our 50th anniversary, which is a big deal. Our mission is to preserve and protect not just buildings in Flat Rock, but landscape monuments. We do historic easements on properties as well. Most of it is to protect the land, so that it can go to the future generation.”
0611MuseumPhotographs of various buildings that have been in Flat Rock for generations, such as Kenmure. Historic Flat Rock is involved in the community in other ways.
“One of our missions is public education, so we go into the schools and work with history teachers,” Flanagan said. “I go into schools and teach 5th graders local history, and they write papers on specific homes that were built in Flat Rock before the Civil War. Long ago, there was no Henderson County, there was no village of Flat Rock. It was Buncombe County, and this road (Greenville Highway) was where the horse and buggies came, and this was the Buncombe Turnpike.”
Flanagan dispelled some misconceptions about Flat Rock’s history.
“A lot of people think that the first settlers were folks from Charleston, but that’s not true,” she said. “There were three Indian tribes: Cherokee, Catawba, and a tribe in Flat Rock. History is one thing, but the stories are another. The truth is this was an area where all the Indian tribes, even if they disagreed with each other, they came from Virginia and Tennessee, and they met here to trade goods. This was a peaceful area. They weren’t allowed to argue or fight.”

Original Flat Rock furniture

Historic Flat Rock’s newest preserved site contains a lot of the previous post office’s infrastructure.
“If it’s old, we try to help it,” Flanagan said. “That’s what we did here. The floor is the original floor. We did not change anything in the building. All we did was clean it up. It took less than three months because all it was was cleaning.”
Historic Flat Rock Inc. has opened a museum in the 1847 historic post office.Historic Flat Rock Inc. has opened a museum in the 1847 historic post office. [NATASHA TOWNSEND/Hendersonville Lightning]Most of the work was done by volunteers, and the plumbing was donated, she said. “It was just a matter of making the building safe. We had a blacksmith do the hand rails.”
Inside is a world of decades and centuries past.
“What we have in it right now — we have a lot of families that have donated to us — is furniture, so we have original Flat Rock wood furniture that was manufactured in Flat Rock,” said Flanagan of the current artifacts. “We have a lot of family photographs. Where the Wrinkled Egg is, that used to be Peace’s Store, and we have his original accounts. We have some of his artwork and some memorabilia that his family donated after he died. We have members that bring things that they have had in their families.” While most donations come from people in Flat Rock, they can be from anyone from anywhere. “The first large landowners were from Charleston,” she added.

The museum “opens the door to expressing what the history has done for us, and then taking it to the next generation,” she added. “We get grandparents, parents and children in here. We have an interactive television with presentations of the old homes. We hope that we pique people’s interest in history.”
“We have a lot of members who have spent a lot of time and a lot of work to make this happen,” said Chris Battista, president of Historic Flat Rock. “This community is over 200 years old. This is a great way for us to celebrate a place we can share with our community and teach our community and the youth and visitors.”
The ribbon cutting was part of Celebrate Flat Rock, an ice cream social sponsored every year by the Flat Rock Village Council. The Flat Rock Park Foundation, the YMCA, the Flat Rock Merchants Association and other nonprofits were on hand to give out information, solicit donations and recruit volunteers.

Marcia Caserio is leading a fundraising campaign to complete a 1½ walking trail at the Park at Flat Rock.
“One of the segments of upmost importance is a section that will be handicapped accessible for anyone with disabilities,” she said. “There will be a small section that will be paved so that wheelchairs and people with difficulties can have access to walk. This will open up the opportunity for us to get some state funding. The Feast & Frolic is our inaugural event, and it will be held at Kenmure Country Club. It is a fundraiser and a celebration of what we’ve raised so far. We want to raise $300,000 by then. To help raise the funds, any gift’s value will be matched from a fund from the board of directors. This event will have a terrific band, an emcee that is a local actor and there will be antics.”
The Carl Sandburg Home brought goats, and people enjoyed music and the ice cream, which was provided by Pet Dairy out of Arden.
“We enjoy the music and the shade and the ice cream,” said Guy Konkle, a summer visitor. “Flat Rock is a neat little town. There’s lots of things to see and do. We enjoy the theater.”
“It’s very special,” said Kenneth Plummer after the museum ribbon cutting. “This is a special place, and just to be a member would be an excellent idea.”

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Membership in the Cultural Center is $35 for a single and $50 for a couple. The museum, currently open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays from 12 noon-4 p.m., is looking for more volunteers so it can open longer hours. Admission is free. For more information or to volunteer call 698-0030.