Bethel Rural Community Organization's Historic Preservation Committee Art Project

By Evelyn M. Coltman | Mar 17, 2013
Photo by: John Rolland Rosemary Trull, Berry Rigdon, and LaNae McCracken hold seven historic art pieces: Top - Inman Chapel, Joe Cathey Mill, Joe Cathey House, Calvin Filmore Christopher Patent Drawing for Computing Scale.  Bottom: Burton Cathey House, Osborne Boundry Oak, J.B. Rigdon General Store

Bethel Rural Community Organization’s Historic Preservation (HP) Committee has pursued a number of projects that are geared to protect, preserve, document, and educate regarding the history of Bethel Community and Haywood County.  The latest undertaking of the committee is to locate historic art pieces, capture them with high resolution photographs, and make available reproductions of these historic drawings, photographs, and paintings.  The HP Committee selected photographer John Rolland because of his expertise in digital photography and giclee print reproductions.  Rolland, in 2012, photographed recent paintings commissioned by the HP Committee of Bethel Presbyterian Church interior by Gary Woolard, Bethel Presbyterian Church exterior by Nick De Paolo, and Lenoir’s Creek Devon Farm by Janice Swanger.  Glicee reproductions of all art pieces are available through BRCO’s web site or by calling 828-646-0303.  The 2012 paintings of Bethel Presbyterian Church and Lenoir’s Creek Devon Farm are also available at Blue Ridge Books, Jukebox Junction, and Cruso Community Club, located at the historic Cruso School. 

In 2013, the committee has located seven art works, some of them dating to the late 1800s, of historic sites in Bethel.  The following art pieces have been photographed for this project: 

A photograph, owned by Bill and Earlene Holbrook, is of the Burton and Lucinda Moore Cathey House that was located in Cathey Cove until it was dismantled a few years ago.  The original portion of the home was built by Dred Blaylock in 1849. 

Paintings by Nettie Vance Penland of the Colonel Joseph and Nancy Hyatt Cathey House, listed on the back of the painting as one of the first framed houses in Haywood County, and another of the Cathey Mill are owned by Berry and Roseanna Rigdon.  These art works are dated to the late 1800s, the house itself is dated to the mid-1800s, while the mill began operation in the 1840s.  Colonel Cathey was a state legislator, farmer, post master, and mercantile operator in the mid-1800s. 

 La Nae and Jack McCracken own the original 1912 application for patent drawings for the computing scale, precursor of today’s modern market scales and gasoline tank measuring devices, by Calvin Filmore Christopher who lived in Bethel and is NC’s most prolific inventor.

 A 1965 painting by F. Seymore of Inman Chapel was captured from a photograph given to the artist by the Reverend Hannah J. Powell, pastor at the Universalist church from 1921 – 1941, during her tenure in Haywood County.  Owner, Rosemary Trull, received the painting as a gift.

The painting of Osborne Boundary Oak, Osborne Farm, and the original log cabin beside the tree is loaned to the HP Committee by Jackie Stephens, Curator of the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts in Shelton House.  The piece, painted by G.C. Monroe, depicts the tree that was used as a boundary marker in 1792.  BRCO and citizens in the community have worked to save the historic tree. 

The J. B. Rigdon General Store and mill house, originally built by the Plott family in the early 1900s was a fixture in the heart of Bethel Community until the 1970s when it was dismantled.  That painting was commissioned by Ozark folk artist, Granny Chicken, by Winifred R. McNeil and is currently owned by Richard and Evelyn Coltman.