THE PRINCE HOUSE IN 2006
On Saturday, November 24, 2006, the Historical Society held its annual Christmas Show at the newly restored Prince House, the oldest house in Highlands. Spearheaded by volunteers under the direction of Isabel Chambers, the rooms of the house were refurbished with furnishings from various periods, and walks back in time were being conducted from 1:00 to 4:00 each Saturday thereafter on December 2, 9, and 16.
Some of the rooms visited were Amelia's Room (left), named after Amelia Wright Bryson, who was born in this room 90 years ago, and Lizzie's Room (right), named after Mrs. Elizabeth Prince, who was the last of the Wrights to own the house. The Victorian furniture in Amelia's Room belonged to Miss Susan "Tudie" Rice, who claimed to have worked for the author Thomas Wolfe (not yet documented) and, after his death, was given a bedroom suite. The furniture in Lizzie's Room was made by Louis Edwards of Highlands, who made it from a log of curly burl poplar that grew in Horse Cove.
The Children's Room is filled with antique toys, and the walls and ceiling are covered with historic restoration paper. Some of the furniture was given to the Society anonymously, but the student desk came from Horse Cove School.
The Kitchen, usually the busiest room in the house, has an extensive collection of typical utensils. Sue Potts reminisces, "You can imagine the warmth that came from the stove as biscuits were baking. When they were done, you can visualize everyone sitting around the table, with fresh churned butter and wild strawberry jam for their biscuits." The sink was added after the advent of running water in 1927.
The fireplace in the Parlor (left), which had been faced with brick, was restored to its original granite, and Tommy Chambers fashioned the mantel after one of the same period at Fairview Inn, today's 4 1/2 Street Inn. The Library (right) now houses much of Professor Thomas G. Harbison's collection, which in his time, when he founded the Highlands Academy in 1886, was being extolled as "the best school library in Western North Carolina." The Bennett grand piano was the first piano brought to Highlands by T. Baxter White in 1876. And the pictures on the walls are unique collages of Highlands scenes, beautifully crafted from mosses, lichens, bark, ferns, and the wood pulp of hornets' nests by John Jay Smith in 1929.
The Dining Room (left) has seen very few changes. It has still has its original wallpaper, and a small framed section of the wall reveals the lath and butcher paper that served as backing. The Student's Room (right) at the back upstairs still contains the wood heater that kept the room warm when young relatives from out of town boarded while they attended school in Highlands. They usually helped with the cooking, looking after the children, and various chores around the house to offset the cost of their room and board. Boarders also used what is now the library, which had a separate door onto the front porch to allow them entrance and exit without bothering the family.
Some of the many visitors who have enjoyed a walk into the past at the Prince House:
An early picture of the Prince House can be seen in a drawing that William B. Cleaveland made of Highlands in 1885 looking from his first home south toward Satulah Mountain. The drawing shows the house immediately to the right of the Presbyterian Church. At that time it belonged to Frank and Mary Boynton and had no bathroom or student's room over the kitchen.