One of the High Country’s oldest residential neighborhoods, Mayview Park, celebrated its 100th anniversary during a community get-together on Saturday, June 22.
The neighborhood, originally called Cloudland, is home to over 100 plots of land and includes Laurel Lane, Wonderland Trail, Edgewood Path and many others.
Event host Cynthia Payne shared excerpts from the book “In Cloudland, Mayview Park, Blowing Rock, North Carolina,” by Crete Hutchinson, which was written in the 1920s shortly after the neighborhood was settled. The book is available for free in the Library of Congress.
“Two hundred acres have been commercially developed into a beautiful park with five miles of graded auto mobile roads of four percent maximum grade with a minimum width of 25 feet and a maximum width on the turns of fifty feet,” the book says about the development of Mayview Park. “At least two miles of these roads were cut through solid rock at tremendous expense and are monuments to the skill of the engineer who surmounted the great difficulties attendant upon the undertaking.”
Rita White of the Blowing Rock Historical Society gave a history lesson on the neighborhood’s former centerpiece, the Mayview Manor.
The elegant full-service, 138-room hotel was built in 1921 in a style all its own with local materials such as chestnut bark. The manor closed in 1966 and was demolished in 1978 to make way for condominiums, which are still standing today.
According to White, the manor was originally built by Walter Alexander, who wanted to build a “little Switzerland.”
“It was the place to be,” White said. “It was a true destination.”
Alexander believed in the power of the clean and cool mountain air, White explained, which was refreshing in a time before air conditioning units were developed.
The manor hosted shooting exhibitions by famed marksman Annie Oakley and played host to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and then-Vice President Richard Nixon during its time. Countless balls and galas were held at the manor, which offered a commanding view of Caldwell County to the south.
Mayor Charlie Sellers told the story of how he tried to buy the manor before its demolition at the age of 19, despite some problems.
“At 19, you’re not only young, but you’re broke and not really intelligent,” Sellers said.
White said that back during the Mayview Manor’s time, visitors spent weeks or months at a time on the grounds, unlike the day trippers or weekend visitors of today.
The manor changed hands several times over its four-plus decades time, including being sold at auction at least once. The changes and development of Blowing Rock led to the decline of the manor, White said.
Despite the demolition of the manor in 1978, the neighborhood has continued to grow in legacy over the decades, with families who have lived in Mayview Park for as a little as one week to over 55 years in attendance at the gathering.