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"Landmark for Indians and the pioneer white settlers of this area, lies nearby. Town of Flat Rock named for this natural formation." The Cherokee were the first inhabitants of the area in western North Carolina known today as Flat Rock. Named for a massive outcropping of granite found there, the site was originally a ceremonial ground and summer campsite of the Cherokee. In 1783 the territory west of the crest of the Blue Ridge was opened for development by self-reliant frontiersmen and women. The Buncombe Turnpike, constructed between 1824 and 1828, opened up access to the area.
In 1827, plantation owners in South Carolina began to vacation in the region and began constructing there summer estates. The cool and sparsely populated mountains became especially popular among low country gentry wishing to escape the heat, yellow fever, and malaria of the humid South Carolina summers. As a consequence, Flat Rock gained the nickname of “Little Charleston of the Mountains.” In 1827 Charles Baring, a Charleston resident affiliated with the Baring Brothers Banking firm of London, built the first great manor on a 3000-acre estate named “Mountain Lodge.” Shortly thereafter, Judge Mitchell King, also of Charleston, arranged for his summer home, “Argyle,” to be built nearby. The community had a post office as early as 1830. The Civil War significantly weakened the Southern planter class and, as a result, the antebellum era of extravagant dinners, hunting parties, and glamorous balls in Flat Rock came to an end.
Flat Rock sits in central Henderson County at an altitude of 2,207 feet. The settlement’s eastern boundary is a plateau on the crest of the Blue Ridge stretching to the west into the French Broad Valley and downstream across the meadows of Mud Creek and Cane Creek. Pulitzer Prize winning poet, biographer, and lecturer Carl Sandburg moved to Flat Rock in 1945. During the twenty-two years he lived on his farm, “Connemara,” he wrote over one-third of his life’s works. Today, the Carl Sandburg home is a National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service. Many of the original estate homes are standing today. The oldest section of Flat Rock is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The granite rock for which the area is named can be found on the grounds of the Flat Rock Playhouse.
Sadie Smathers Patton, A Condensed History of Flat Rock (1961)
William S. Powell, North Carolina Gazetteer (1968)
Carl Sandburg Home Website: http://www.nps.gov/carl/
Historic Hendersonville and Historic Village of Flat Rock Website:
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.