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Beaumont known for architecture, bushwhacker shooting

Beaumont, in Flat Rock. Beaumont, in Flat Rock.

FLAT ROCK — Built in 1839, Beaumont, also known as the Johnstone-Hayne House, might well have a direct connection to Brookdale.

"While not fully documented it is possible Charles Edmondston, who is attributed with designing the nearby Brookland house in Flat Rock in 1836, may have designed the original Beaumont as well," said Sybil H. Argintar, a historic preservation expert with Southeastern Preservation Services in Asheville, who also researched the history of Brookdale for a historic landmark designation. "It is likely that Johnstone and Edmondston knew each other and they may have consulted over the design of Beaumont."
Originally a small two-story house with a cross gable roofline and a Gothic Revival appearance, Beaumont, which now anchors the entrance of the eponymous subdivision on Kanuga Road, was made from cut mica-flecked granite quarried on nearby Glassy Mountain and built by slave laborers of Andrew Johnstone. Workers locally harvested and planed the lumber for the structure and the heart pine floors. Sturdy walls are 18 inches thick.
Like Edmondston, Mitchell King and other peers, Andrew Johnstone built the house as a summer retreat. Born in 1805, Johnstone, a wealthy rice planter and slave owner, bought the original 800 acres in separate parcels from Samuel Allison, Benjamin King, and James Kuykendall for $1 an acre on Sept. 27, 1839, Argintar said in her report.


Bushwhackers shoot him dead
Like Brookland's owners, Johnstone was a member of St. John in the Wilderness and active in civic affairs and finance. He was involved in the survey and construction of Little River Road and was an investor in the Woodfield Inn. Johnstone was eating dinner with his family at the home when three bushwhackers tracked him down and shot him dead on June 10, 1864. (It's local lore that the bloodstain can still be seen on the dining room floor.)

According to historic accounts, Johnstone's 13-year-old son retrieved the pistol that his father was trying to draw then killed two and wounded another of the attackers.

The property changed hands four times before Mrs. L. J. Woolley of Kentucky sold the 204-acre estate on Aug. 23, 1909, to Franklin Brevard Hayne. Born in 1858, Hayne was a wealthy cotton broker from New Orleans.

Hayne earned his place as the second named owner of Beaumont chiefly for the big renovation he ordered and the men he hired to design it. Hayne hired an architect of the Biltmore estate to redo the house, and hired the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, the "father of landscape architecture" and another Biltmore contractor, to design the grounds.
Born in Yorkshire, England, in 1852, Richard Sharp Smith had served as supervising architect of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville under the New York architect Richard Morris Hunt, whose firm he had joined. Smith worked all over the region and his projects are still known today. Among his remodeling or design projects were Teneriffe (1903 remodel), Embrook (1902-03), Chanteloup (1900 remodel) and the Henderson County Courthouse, which opened in 1905.
Smith's redesign significantly enlarged the Beaumont house and altered its appearance. Hayne also added sunken gardens.
Among the six owners between Frank Hayne and the current owners was John S. Brown and his wife, Carolyn P. Brown, of Knoxville, Tenn., who bought it in 1930. The Browns restored the formal garden that the Olmsted firm had designed and added fountains, polls and statuary, including the majestic lions that guard the entrance today. Carolyn P. Brown, the founder of the American Garden Society, planted bulbs from Italy, France, and Holland, according to Argintar's report for the Flat Rock Historic Landmarks Commission.

When it changed hands again in 1957, the estate contained 204 acres and "included the house, a dairy, three guest houses, caretaker cottages and a five- acre mountain lake," the Flat Rock report said. It was bought then by Oakley Murphy, a land investor from Florida and owner of Carolina Farms.
After buying the estate in 1962, J.B. Lovingood sold much of the land associated with the house, creating Beaumont Estates. With one transaction between, the current owners, John D. and Elizabeth McCoy, bought Beaumont, then falling into disrepair, in November 1985.
"The McCoys completed the major work on the restoration of the house, bringing it back to its former glory," Argintar said.
The 7,052-square-foot two-story house on 4.76 acres has a tax value of $996,500, according to county records. A 50 percent discount for the historic designation would save the property owner $2,560 a year. The Flat Rock Historic Landmarks Commission and Flat Rock Village Council are scheduled to hear the landmark request on Dec. 12.
Beaumont would be the second historic landmark that Flat Rock's new historic commission has designated as a landmark. The commission and Village Council approved the 1862 Dunroy home earlier this year.