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Ask Matt ... about Stillwell house, new Triangle Stop

Matt Matteson, the Lightning's intrepid researcher, answers readers' questions.

Q. There is a neat old house at 533 Blythe Street in Hendersonville that is barely visible through the trees. Is that a Stillwell home?

That home is also known as “Villa Montana” and yes, it was designed by Hendersonville’s premier architect, Erle Stillwell. The house was built in 1924 for Frank A. Ewbank, who had a real estate business here until 2004. Stillwell also built the Main Street building that still carries the Ewbank & Ewbank name. Erle Stillwell designed homes, schools and commercial buildings, here in Hendersonville and all across the South. His architectural firm became one of the most respected in the state, putting its mark on buildings at Duke University and on dozens of movie theaters – a Stillwell specialty. He designed his first home in 1912 and his practice lasted almost 60 years ending in 1971.
Villa Montana today is proudly owned by Alice M. Peschl, whose grandparents bought the home from Frank Ewbank. “They raised my father and uncle there and my father raised me there as well,” said Peschl. Her grandfather, Frank Peschl, came from Bern, Switzerland. He was an engineer who helped build the Ecusta paper plant. “They chose the name Villa Montana because it reminded them of Switzerland,” said Peschl. Villa Montana holds fond memories for the owner who just last May was married on the home place “right under my grandmother’s roses,” as she puts it.
William Mitchell’s book about Erle Stillwell’s architecture is available from the county library. It has been said that Stillwell was not a particularly innovative architect but what he did design was top notch. Truly, Villa Montana is a testament to his capabilities.

Q. What is that construction project on N.C. 280 by the Asheville Regional Airport across from the WNC Ag Center?

That will be a Triangle Stop store and gas station on 2.1 acres leased from the Airport Authority. The previously low-lying land was raised by taking fill dirt from property the Airport owns on the east side of NC 280 next to the Fairfield Inn. According to airport officials, that parcel will be grassed and held for future non-aeronautical development.
Just up Airport Road, NCDOT’s “Diverging Diamond Interchange” project is underway. And you might have noticed across the Interstate on Underwood Road and still inside Henderson County another large building is under construction. That’s the new Apple Tree Honda dealership, a 52,000-square-foot state-of-the art building. Jason Locke, Apple Tree’s general manager, said the dealer outgrew the old building but will keep it for their used car department. The new dealership should be open by Labor Day.