Wednesday, July 10, 2013

McMillan's Hidden Valley

High Acres was not our first house in the mountains. We started at the bottom of the hill - literally. When I was 7 or 8 years old Mama found an ad in a paper for property for sale in a new development in the NC mountains - "McMillan's Hidden Valley". The ad described a picturesque valley with a mountain stream running through it. The development also had a pond stocked with trout, a park, and horses available for the home owners to ride. Sign me up! So we took a road trip.

When we arrived , we were met by Mr. McMillan, the sixty five year old gentleman from Florida, who had moved to North Carolina and purchased some acreage for his "Hidden Valley". There was one dirt road through the development and it curved sharply down a hill to the bottom of gorge. On the way down the hill, Mr. McMillan proudly showed us a dam where the pond was being built. There was a cleared dirt area, where he had plans for a park. (The "horses" turned out to be two sad looking ponies in a small pen in Mr. McMillan's front yard.) My brother and I were not impressed. They did not even have ranch dressing.

There were already houses built on the lots along the road. All them unremarkable, small, and square. And, most of the license plates were from Florida, not a good sign in the my mind. (I had been ingrained early on that Florida was the land of transplanted Yankees.)

Mama's mind was made up before we arrived that we needed a lot there, sight unseen. And, always wanting some privacy, she and Daddy selected the last lot at the very end of the development. Literally, at the end of the road. Now, the first time we got out of the car to look at the proposed property, was frightening.  The lot was an acre in size, however, the land was vertical  (as in at a 75 degree angle). Mama looked at Daddy and said, "It's perfect. Let's buy it."

My brother and I were holding on to a tree at the top of the lot for dear life peering over the edge. Our parents were busy starting to plan where the house would go. We just looked at each other in total dismay. Real estate deals were nothing new to us. But, this one seemed a little more adventurous than the ones before.

Several weekends later Daddy had arranged for some of his friends to come up with several truck loads of building supplies (as well as several coolers of beer). Always being practical, Mama had designed the house so that it was square and everything was in divisions of 8 feet, so no sheets of plywood or 8' boards needed to be cut. Of course all of this simplicity was offset by the engineering required to install the 40 foot tall iron poles to rest the front of the house on and the elevated walk way that allowed us to safely get from the car to the side door.

Some where along the way, Daddy had gotten his hands on several gallons of surplus Army Green paint with a dual purpose - the color blended in with the Rhododendron that covered the property, and it was incredibly cheap. And, my earlier comments about furniture from the Holiday Inn were made in semi-jest. In preparing to furnish the mountain house, Dad found out they were refurbishing a local Holiday Inn. He went and purchased 4 rooms of furniture.  So the decor of the three bedrooms and some of the den furniture was late "Holiday Inn".

When all was said and done, we had an army green 1600 square foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bath house (furnishings circa 1960s Holiday Inn) with a large screen porch across the front that over looked the "Big Hungry" creek - a good 70 feet below. My parents officially had a mountain house and no fear Architectural Digest was going to show up any time soon for a photo shoot.

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