The Transylvania Times -

DAR Honors Gene Baker For Community Service – Brevard NC


Last updated 3/29/2017 at 8:07pm

Sally and Gene Baker are both direct lineal descendants of patriots of the American Revolution. Sally has been active in the Waightstill Avery Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for many years. Gene is a member of Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

At the March meeting, the Waightstill Avery Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Eugene Rogers Baker for his outstanding volunteer service to Brevard and Transylvania County.

Baker is a native of Transylvania and, through his father, a descendant of the Galloway family, who were early setters in this area.

Baker grew up in the Brevard area and graduated from Brevard High School. He attended Clemson University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, and pursued graduate studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

Baker was employed by the Olin Mathieson plant in Transylvania County, and he and his wife, Sally, made their home in Brevard beginning in March 1961. Baker has always been active in a variety of community organizations as well as church related services and scouting activities. His retirement seemed to signal his availability to spearhead an ever-increasing role in community involvement.

As president of the Transylvania County Historical Society (2008-2012), Baker promoted and pursued grants to restore the Allison-Deaver House, which dates from 1815 and is the oldest standing frame house west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (national register and local landmarks). Restoration included cleaning and painting of the exterior and, in 2012, replacement of the wood shingles on each side.

McGaha Chapel, located in the Dunn's Rock area, was transferred to the county in 2007. Baker contracted for an old oversaw replacement of its eight windows (sashes, sills and spools), obtained the necessary information and wrote the the application to the Joint Historic Preservation Commission (JHPC) to obtain Local Historic Landmark status. This was approved by JHPC and subsequently by the Transylvania County Board of County Commissioners in February, 2013. The following year, Baker donated funds for and supervised the painting of the interior walls with historic color-replicated paint.

Somehow, while all of this was going on, Baker found time to serve as assistant editor and business manager for the Heritage of Transylvania County Sesquicentennial publication. He personally documented, for the first time, the eight years of efforts leading to the formation of a new county, including petitions filed with the state and proceedings in the North Carolina House of Commons. He similarly documented efforts between 1861 and 1868 to form and incorporate the town of Brevard. In addition to the 13 pages he personally wrote, he helped manage and organize the writings of nearly 150 other contributors into the 500-plus page book published and sold in 2012.

In the 1970s the last heir to the estate of Joseph Silversteen bequeathed the family's aging mansion and grounds to Transylvania County. Already in need of repairs, the house was saved from demolition by Friends of Silvermont and used for a variety of classes, community group meetings and social functions. However, the cost of maintenance and repair far exceeded their resources.

The Silvermont Centennial Committee was formed in 2013 to restore the mansion to a vibrant community center and historic landmark. Baker was treasurer of that group.

Restoration of the windows was deemed to be the most pressing need, and Baker worked diligently to help raise funds towards this goal. Through the the sponsorship of the Waightstill Avery Chapter NSDAR and with support from the Transylvania County Commissioners and the County Historical Society, the Silvermont Centennial Committee was awarded an NSDAR grant for $10,000 to apply toward repair and restoration of the 75 solid oak windows. This phase, as well as the replacement of the front porch, has been completed.

In keeping with the Silvermont Committee's goal of developing a vibrant community center, the Bakers chose to donate funds for the planning and construction of a half-mile American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) certified loop trail around the eight acres of Silvermont. In conjunction with this, the Bakers also donated the funds to provide a resilient rubberized surface for an ADA toddler playground on the site.

Transylvania County has, indeed, been enriched by the service and commitment of Gene Baker. He has made us more aware of our heritage and, with this, has made our community a better place to live.


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