History Starts at Home

Published on 9 September 2023 at 09:00

We often see them during drives through our small mountain communities in northwestern North Carolina. Old farmhouses, small wooden cabins, and homes with large wrap-around porches, and expansive views. Many have been abandoned or are falling victim to time. 


Then we see those grand, beautifully preserved homes like the Biltmore, Thomas Wolfe Memorial, and others that are part of North Carolina history. In our own local community, we have been fortunate that individuals and families have taken over properties in the hopes of restoring or maintaining them. 


A great example is the home of Congressman Robert L. Doughton. It is done in the classic Queen Ann style as most homes here were in the early part of the 20th Century. Mr. Doughton is known as the Father of the Blue Ridge Parkway. He served forty-two years in Congress before retiring and served as Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. 


The Parkway project as it was known then changed much of Northwestern NC during the Great Depression. It is due to Congressman Doughton's insistence on the Parkway's route coming through Alleghany that alphabet agencies like the Civilian Conservation Corps and WPA (Works Progress Administration) provided jobs here. Per records, a total of 200 to 230 individuals were employed by the CCC from this and surrounding counties. 


Today Congressman Doughton's home is a bed and breakfast where visitors and guests to our County may stay and learn more about the man who shaped this rural town and America's Grand Balcony. 

Photo by Stacy Hawks (c) 2004 - Congressman Robert L. Doughton Home & Bed & Breakfast Laurel Springs, NC

Another old home I long admired was a red brick home with a chimney and steep A-shaped gable. While conducting research for a school project I learned it was owned by the first postmistress in our community and had been built around 1937. Even more interesting, the home was possibly a mail-order home from a magazine. Presently, however, it has been renovated and is not at all as it was before. The brick is gone and an addition to the home was added. Whenever I drive by I still envision the old home in my mind's eye. 


The Floyd Crouse House located in Sparta's Crouse Park near the center of town is a home that generations have been able to enjoy. From music gatherings to special fundraising and family events the home is a fixture in our County. The home was donated by Floyd Crouse, a former attorney, and his wife, to the town of Sparta upon their passing. Mr. Crouse, it has been said, assisted in saving records from the 1933 fire that once consumed our County Courthouse and Main Street. Per oral history, Mr. Crouse led a group of men as they carried the court, land, birth, and death records away from the burning structure. Without his heroic efforts, the irreplaceable records might have been lost forever.


It's important that we acknowledge the history of old homes and those who once resided there. After all, our home shapes so much of our lives giving us a sense of place, safety, and community. It is here our history truly starts and it is at home where stories are shared. 

Photo by Stacy Hawks (c) 2019 - Floyd R. Crouse Home Sparta, N.C.

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