The Franklin Hotel, built by J. Frances Hays around 1900 on East Main St., was surrounded by an expansive lawn, acres of trees, and a small lake. In 1909 Hays sold the hotel and 80 acres to the Franklin Park Improvement Company for $35,000.
|This early photograph of Franklin Lake way|
likely taken while Hay still owned the
Franklin Hotel, circa 1900-1909.
However the project did not appear to be very successful as only a few homes were built at the time. A comment in the May 24, 1912 Sylvan Valley News stated, “The bed of what used to be the Franklin lake is now a blot on a bit of landscape otherwise very attractive. The ground is seamed and cracked in an unsightly way, and near the broken dam a good deal of water has accumulated to stagnate, have a bad appearance, and more unsanitary than the lake itself.” Over the next several years sale notices for the property regularly ran in the newspaper.
In April 1922 it was announced that C. C. Yongue would purchase the property and restore the lake. By the end of June work was completed. Yongue advertised, “Spend the Fourth at Franklin Lake and Park.” It offered picnic tables and benches, private dressing rooms and lockers, a new confectionary store and rest room, and ample parking. The two-acre lake was up to 20 feet deep, featured a 100 foot long sandy beach and a 100 square foot enclosed space for small children.
The venture again ran into trouble, taxes went unpaid, and by the Great Depression the lake was gone. In late 1933 Brevard Building and Loan in conjunction with the town and county undertook creating a park with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and playground facilities. Funding originally came through the Civil Works Administration with R.P. Kilpatrick as the construction manager. Later it was transferred to the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and a new construction manager, Ernest Miller, was named.
The pool was 45 feet wide and 105 feet long with a depth ranging from three-and-one-half feet to nine-and-one-half feet. The Town of Brevard hired Coach Ernest Tilson to operate the pool which opened on June 28, 1934. Over the next several weeks the bath house was completed, lights were added, and work continued on the surrounding park.
Sadly on July 18 before the entire project was completed, 39-year-old construction manager Ernest Miller collapsed and died of an apparent stroke while on the job.
|Chuck Gilmore's Today photograph was taken|
looking across the pool nearly straight toward
where the dam was located.
|Don Voltz took his Today photograph beyond the pool|
and included the Girl Scout House on the right.
Today Franklin Park covers 4.4 acres at the location of the former park and lake. Participants in the “Yesterday’s Places Today” contest took their photographs from several different locations and angles on the property. All entries will be on display on the 2nd floor at the Library throughout the week.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-884-1820.