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    distance view of teh Rockefellow House at Long Valley Farm in Carvers Creek State Park

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    Background

    It's always exciting to watch a new state park develop. North Carolina's newest is Carvers Creek State Park. It was authorized in 2005 and opened the first stage in September 2013.

    Park Superintend Jane Connolly, told us about the park's background. In the mid 1700s Scottish immigrants began moving into the area. By the mid 1800s, this was the site of “Ardnave,” a 13,000-acre plantation that produced turpentine and later lumber for the naval stores industry mainly in England which had already depleted its lumber sources. The McDiarmid Millpond was probably built to saw the lumber.

    The McDiarmid Millpond at Carvers Creek State Park

    After the Civil War, the land changed hands several times and by 1912 was purchased by Robert Wall Christian.  Christian was very progressive about agriculture and was  first to start planting crops here. He named it Long Valley Farm.

    In 1937 James Stillman Rockefeller purchased the land mainly for a winter retreat and kept it as a working farm. He provided good wages and nice homes to his employees. He even paid for any employees' children who want to go to college.

    John Stillman Rockefeller could afford pretty much anything he wanted to do. He was the grand-nephew of John D. of Standard Oil fame.  As a young Yale student, he won a gold medal in rowing at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. when he passed away in 2004 at the age of 102 he was the oldest living Olympic Gold Medal recipient.

    The location was perfect for Rockefeller. During World War II he was a lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Airborne Command stationed at Fort Bragg. After the war when he returned to his career in New York. He was a banker, a director of Pan American World Airways, Northern Pacific Railroad, National Cash Register and Monsanto.

    He married Nancy Campbell Sherlock Carnegie, grand-daughter of Andrew Carnegie, and they used Long Valley Farm to escape his busy life in New York.

    When he died, he left this property to the Nature Conservancy and they in turn passed it on to the state park system in 2010.

    Agricultural Complex

    Mr. Williams, Rockefeller's farm manager was given a life estate to his home here and is still alive so the Agricultural Complex is only viewed on guided tour. The buildings range from 1912 through 1937 and many are on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. The park has plans to turn many of the building into classrooms and exhibit space while presderving the historic structures.

     outside view of Commissary at Carvers Creek State Park

    The Commissary was a staple on farms in the early 1900s as workers often had no way of going into the nearest city to buy necessary items.  Here it is located near the farm managers house probably so he could watch over it.

    Old barn at Carvers Creek State Park

    The Great Barn faces the meadow and will become a classroom for large groups with educational exhibits and panels inside. The old barn will once again house vintage farming implements and will have information about farm animals and crops.

    exterior of grainery at Carvers Creek State Park

    grain chute in wall of grainery at Carvers Creek State Park

    The Grainery also dates to the early 1900s. Its sloped shelter area let wagons pull up right next to it and get grain. There is an interesting chute built into the sheltered side wall. It could be opened to pour grain out as needed then closed.

    silo and outbuildings at Carvers Creek State Park

    There is also a Blacksmith Shop and a Pack house, once used to dry and store tobacco when it was grown here. The Silo is one of the most picturesque structures in the complex.

    Miss Betty's house was built around 1937 or '38. She was the Rockefellers' cook and another of his employees who had life estate to their homes in what is now Carvers Creek State Park.  She passed away recently. Miss Betty was born on the farm where her mother was Rockefeller first cook. In turn her daughter, also Betty, later became the family cook.

    As looking at these buildings tells you, farms then were pretty much self sufficient. The aim with the Farm Complex is to return it to the 1912 era of Robert Wall Christian.

    Rockefeller Home

    The crown jewel is Mr. Rockefeller's house. It is in the process of being restored to 1938 when it was constructed. Current plans are to use it as a visitors center and also available to rent for events. It's not going to be your typical Rockefeller style mansion. Instead it will reflect what he was, a rich man looking for a simple down to earth getaway from the hoards of rushing pedestrians and the gridlocked traffic of New York. As Jane said, "Mr. Rockefeller wanted this to be a rustic retreat. That's the look he was after. This was his cabin in the woods."

    Front view of Rockefellow house grainery at Carvers Creek State Park

    It may be rustic but it is going to be a knockout when rehabbed. It's certainly not the way the average American lives today or even in the 1930s.

    To start with, Miss Betty had her own apartment in the house where she stayed when the family as in residence. She had a bedroom, bath and small den right off the kitchen. The kitchen is huge as befitted a family that entertained a lot. 4 bedrooms with their own bath all had fireplace.  Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller's shared two bedrooms, each with its own bath. They had a den and a private porch. Something we would find unusual in a millionaire's home today; the house never was air conditioned.

    Interior room wiht fireplace in Rockefeller House at Carvers Creek State Park

    Stepping outside, there is a mingling of eras in what you find. A portion of the fence was original to the Robert Wall Christian era but falling down. The park staff duplicated each picket to repair fence exactly as it was in 1912.

    Rockefeller's garage which was built in 1940s has been converted to a picnic shelter. There are four beautiful live Oaks in the front yard.  Rockefeller's wife brought them from Cumberland Island's Carnegie estate.

    Garage turned to picnic shelter at Carvers Creek State Park

    Hurricane Matthew did damage. Much of the are wa sunder water. Jane said "During the flood all of the area around the house and pond was under water. This looked like a white water river."Burst Mill Pond Dam caused pond in front of house to drain. That is being repaired and soon the pond will be back.

    The pavilion adjacent to the lake was built around 1750 during the McDiarmid era as a sawmill. There was once a horizontal wheel, called a tug wheel, powering the saw. After the lumber era ended, Mr. Christian turned it into a place for picnics and parties. Rockefeller kept it for that same purpose./p>

    Because of ongoing renovations, this area is only open for guided tours. The tours take only about 15 people at a time; they're free but you must sign up in advance.

    Park Resources

    The state has big plans for this park. I look forward to returning in a few years and maybe find a campground somewhere in view of the mill pond and living history exhibits in the Agricultural Complex.

    There are lots of things you can do now on your own at Carvers Creek State Park. For hikers there are two trails. The half mile James S. Rockefeller Trail is the park's main trail; it goes to the Rockefeller House from the park's office and picnic area. Another trail, the 0.75-mile Cypress Point Loop Trail begins at the end of the Rockefeller Trail, and it loops around the southern shore of the millpond.

    You can picnic either along the trails or near the park office. The picnic area by the office has a grill as does the one in the Rockefeller garage.

    This longleaf pine ecosystem is home to the federally endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker. One of my favorite wild critters, the Fox Squirrel, also makes his home around here along with many other wildlife species. So spend a day communing with nature. It's good for the soul.

    https://www.ncparks.gov/carvers-creek-state-park

     

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