Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 53
still attached to the Reynolds home,
which was built in 1947 for Senator
Bob Reynolds' daughter, Frances,
who was born in his first marriage.
Her mother died of typhoid fever.
A piece of Frances' artwork remains
in the house, which was called the
Frances Reynolds-Oertling House.
She ultimately moved to Italy where
she lived out her life, but she's buried
next to her father in Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.
Joseph was three years old when
his mother, Mamie, sold the house,
but on November 2, 2015, he and
Chuck became the newest owners of the house and they are in the
process of restoring it and making it
their home base. As Chuck led me
through the empty rooms, he told
me it was designed by famed architect Douglas Ellington-one of the
few houses he created.
Ellington is well known in Asheville for designing Asheville City
Hall, the S & W Cafeteria Building,
First Baptist Church and Asheville
High School. They are following
guidelines from the Preservation Society to maintain the integrity of the
original design, but they have grand
plans for making it a spectacular
show place filled with such items as
a massive portrait of Evalyn McLean
Walsh and other family memories.
Renovations began in May 2016
and are expected to last through
2017. There are charming touches
remaining-MAMIE scrawled in concrete when she was a child, tiny footprints lingering in another concrete
space, the Reynolds Coat of Arms on
one doorway, wormy chestnut kitchen cabinets, and intricate stained
glass windows in a room boasting a
bounty of built-in book cases.
The house, with its sweeping
mountain views, is located exactly
one mile from The Reynolds Mountain Bed & Breakfast Inn, which was
originally built in 1847 by Daniel
Reynolds who was the grandfather
of Senator Bob Reynolds.
I stopped in to see innkeeper Billy
Sanders at The Reynolds Mountain
Bed & Breakfast Inn on a picture-perfect Sunday in October 2016. He and
his partner, Michael Griffith, bought
the house when it was overgrown
with ivy and in pretty bad shape,
but they had a vision and today the
home is beautifully restored to reflect
a bygone time.
Eighty percent of the furniture inside is original to the time when the
Reynolds family lived there. Portraits
of Daniel and Susan (Baird) Reynolds
are prominent in the main hallway
beside a sweeping staircase.
There's also evidence of the Hope
Diamond legacy-a portrait of Evalyn Walsh Reynolds wearing the
necklace her mother owned, family
photos of Senator Bob Reynolds and
Mamie, and an antique display cabinet filled with books related to the
Hope Diamond, a replica of the necklace, and a Barbie Doll wearing a tiny
version of the Hope Diamond. This
house also features a commanding
dining room-the largest, according
to Sanders, in any Buncombe County
home with the obvious exception of
the Biltmore House.
Sanders says slaves dug the west
end of Baird Bottom, which is now
Beaver Lake (created in 1923), for
the clay they used to make bricks for
construction of Reynolds Mansion.
"Originally the house was located
on 1500 acres, which included all
three peaks of Reynolds Mountain
all the way to Beaver Lake, and to
the front of us would be the shores
of the French Broad River. It was all
apple orchards. Israel Baird, who was
Daniel Reynolds' wife's father-her
name was Susan Baird-he owned all
these orchards. That 1500 acres was
her dowry when she married Daniel.
His first son to inherit this house
was William Taswell Reynolds. William married a woman named Mamie Spears, of the Smith McDowell
clan. William and Mamie had two
sons here-John and Robert, who
became Senator Robert Reynolds.
His Senate career is probably most
remembered for how he fought to
get the Blue Ridge Parkway to come
through Asheville-it was originally
planned to go through Tennessee."
Evalyn Washington McLean became the fifth wife of Senator Bob
WANT TO READ MORE?
This story is excerpted and
adapted from Marla Hardee
Milling's book, "Legends, Secrets
and Mysteries of Asheville."
Its 12 chapters contain many
fascinating stories from in and
around Asheville. For a signed
Reynolds in October 1941 at the
fabulous Washington, D.C. home of
her mother, known as "Friendship."
Sanders explains how the union
happened: "There had been some
tragedy in the family and it was all
rumored to be because of the curse
of the diamond that she had. Her
young daughter was 19 and she felt
if she could marry her off to a father
figure it might save her life. She told
Senator Reynolds, 'If you will marry
my young daughter, I will take care
of you the rest of your life.' So the
57-year-old Senator married the
19-year-old Evalyn. It was a business
deal. They had a child [in 1942] who
he would name Mamie Spears Reynolds after his own mother."
When Evalyn Reynolds took
her life, Mamie spent a year living in the Reynolds Mansion with
her governess while her father carried out his last year of his political career in Washington. He then
moved back to Asheville, and they
took over the Reynolds-Oertling
House-the one Joseph and
Charles will soon call home. Sanders said it will be the first time any
member of the Reynolds family
has been a homeowner on Reynolds Mountain since 1972.
The legend of the curse is far-removed from causing harm, it seems.
Sanders says there's a show called
"The Mysteries of the Hope Diamond." "In it," he says, "they'll tell
you that Mamie Spears Reynolds and
Harry Winston are the only two people that the curse passed by because
they never took possession of it."
Mamie Reynolds died on November 15, 2014 at the age of 72
and Harry Winston died in December 1978 at the age of 82.
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