The Transylvania Times -

Picturing The Past: Stillwell Designed Many Older Homes


September 4, 2017

Thomas Shipman's house was located where Shepard Square condominiums are today.

Erle Stillwell moved to Hendersonville as a young man in the early 1900s. In January 1904 he invested in property near Laurel Park. Over the next few years he studied architecture at Cornell University and traveled throughout Europe. By 1913 Stillwell had returned to Hendersonville and had begun his long career in architecture.

Stillwell went on to design many large fashionable homes in Henderson, Buncombe, Polk and Transylvania counties. He built his reputation on adapting the Tudor, Colonial, Georgian and Neoclassical revival styles popular in the early 20th century. Stillwell was known for high quality work in both design and building construction.

A number of Stillwell's architectural drawings from 1913 through the mid-1950s are preserved at the Henderson County Library. William Mitchell's book, "Building as History: The Architecture of Erle Stillwell" is a catalogue of those drawings. It includes the Brevard homes of Thomas Shipman, Randall Everett and Don Jenkins.

Thomas Shipman got his start as a teacher and was a manager with the Toxaway Company but was best known as a banker. He worked his way from cashier to president of Brevard Banking. Mitchell identifies the Shipman House drawings as among Stillwell's earliest work. A Sylvan Valley News real estate advertisement from March 1912 identifies it on South Broad Street (now Country Club Road) and lists Shipman's Main Street home for sale.

The drawings and blueprints for Randall Everett's home are dated July 1924. Mitchell states the "floor plan was typically symmetrical, with a central stair hall, living room on one side, and dining room and kitchen on the other."

Everett was a businessman, who also owned and operated Everett Farm from 1917-1930. He served as director of Brevard Banking and later the Federal Savings and Loan.

The eight working drawings of Don Jenkins' home on Maple Street were probably drawn by William O'Cain, who worked for Stillwell. The exterior of Jenkins' home is typical brick ranch style but Mitchell describes the interior as "stunning finish is work-paneling of vertical maple board with over-scaled maple crown moldings." The drawings are dated January 1949. It is the only one of these homes that is still standing.

The home of Randall Everett was located on the northwest corner of South Broad and Morgan streets where First Citizen's Bank is today.

In addition to houses, Stillwell designed many commercial buildings during this time. Drawings for two downtown Brevard businesses are included in the collection. Next week's Picturing the Past will continue with Stillwell's story by featuring these buildings.

(Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the N.C. 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 or (828) 884-1820.)


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