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Original cornerstone coming home to the Meadows

The historic Meadows home was rebuilt of stone in the 1860s after the oringal wood frame house burned. [LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO, 1933] The historic Meadows home was rebuilt of stone in the 1860s after the oringal wood frame house burned. [LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PHOTO, 1933]

FLETCHER — A pivotal chapter in local history is about to come full circle as the cornerstone from the historic Meadows property in Fletcher is returned to its original location.

 

Three grandchildren of Edwin T. Edgerton and Vesta Mattox Edgerton will present the cornerstone to current owners of the historic home, Michael and Judy McKnight, in a ceremony to be held on the property 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22.

Edwin T. and Vesta Edgerton purchased the house from the Blake family in 1938 and moved in with their three daughters, Gene, Sue and Carol. Gene kept possession of the cornerstone for the family. Gene’s children — Tracy Fayssoux Bernstein, Rick Fayssoux and Jim Fayssoux, who still lives in the Fletcher area — will attend the presentation along with two great-grandchildren and a great-great grandchild.

The cornerstone’s return has a special meaning to current owner Michael McKnight. “For me, it's about honoring the Edgerton family, rather than the Blakes,” he says. “Carol and Gene visited us a few times over the years to check on the property. You could tell how special their affection was for the home and land from the childhood memories they shared with us. Their connection to the home was an inspiration to me, and we loved it when they visited. Now we are honored to have the Fayssoux family come to return this little slice of history to us.”

Cornerstone imprintAn imprint of the cornerstoneThe cornerstone is believed to have been used in the construction of the kitchen outbuilding, which was made of brick, in 1833. At this time, shortly after Daniel Blake purchased the property (950 acres) from William Murray, the home was wood frame. Blake built the stone house after the original wood structure burned to the ground.

When the kitchen outbuilding deteriorated to the point of no return, the Edgertons had it demolished. They saved the cornerstone, and used the original red brick to make a patio at the south side of the house, as well as walkways around the house. When they sold the property, they took the cornerstone with them as a keepsake.

According to Tracy Fayssoux Bernstein, the Fayssoux siblings made the unanimous decision to return the cornerstone to the house when they found it after their mother passed away last year.
“My mother had made some molds of the markings,” she says, “so that each of us could have one. So, when the original cornerstone was found, there was never a doubt about returning it. All three of us had met Judy and her family, and we were impressed with their appreciation of the house and the surrounding land. To us, more than anything, we wanted to see the history of the house go forward and know that someone who really loves and appreciates it is there to care for it. It’s almost as if the house was a living member of our family.”

Current owner Judy McKnight says she and Michael found the brick patio by chance. “It was completely covered with grass and weeds," she said. "We discovered the brick while clearing the weeds and undergrowth from around the house. Wisteria was growing up the side of the house and inside through the windows in several places.”

The McKnights dug up the historic brick and are searching for help to rebuild the patio, using the bricks in the design. “Many of the bricks were broken and deteriorated, so we'll be using the ones that could be saved,” Judy says. “That’s at the side entrance that we use now. When folks see how bad it looks, they recognize it for what it is – our latest project!”

As the circle of history is sealed with the cornerstone’s return, Tracy Fayssoux Bernstein likens it to healing the home.

“It’s like a wound, and it needs to be put back,” she says. “It belongs there.”

The Meadows has a long history in the Fletcher area. According to some accounts, the Meadows estate was the original source of Catawba grapes, which are unique to Western North Carolina. The historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher was built on land donated by Meadows owner Daniel Blake in 1859. The house has known several owners over the generations, including the Blakes and the Edgertons (the Fayssoux grandparents). It was the site of Kellwood Textiles, and briefly the intended site of Fletcher Town Hall. Over time the house fell into disrepair, and for a short time was used by vagrants who caused damage to the property.

In 2004, the Meadows became the “obsession” of current owner Judy McKnight, who felt a deep attachment to the property and dedicated herself to restoring it to its former glory. “The house was in a state of disrepair,” Judy says. “We have been fixing it up in stages. Now we’ve done less than half of the necessary renovations, and there’s still a lot to go. We’ve always felt this house doesn’t just belong to us, but to the area. We have plans to make it a showcase that the community can appreciate. And now the return of the cornerstone is so perfect. It’s like finding the missing piece of a puzzle you’ve been working on for such a long time and finally feeling a sense of completion.”

The rededication ceremony for the cornerstone is open to the public. The Meadows home is located at 31 Meadows Blake House Lane, Fletcher.