As the Mountain Breeze celebrates its 30th anniversary year serving the greater Lake Lure area, we are recognizing local history makers for each of our Breeze editions this year. Here is a brief story of local history maker Mary Ann Dotson-Silvey as told to Breeze readers in her own words:
My earliest memories in Lake Lure were visiting Aunt Sarah and Uncle Herman in Tryon Bay, where I enjoyed running from the cottage, and across a 2 x 8 plank to a floating dock to “ride the waves” when I heard an occasional Chris Craft coming!
In 1947, my parents, Martin L. Nesbitt, Sr. and Mary Cordell Nesbitt, partnered with Herman and Sarah Nesbitt Smart to purchase land on the southwest side of the lake, including all of what is now Tryon Bay Cove. The lakefront was divided into lots, and mules were used to pull logs to a temporary sawmill where lumber was cut for building. Dad fenced over one hundred acres in the Cane Creek Valley to farm and cleared pastures for cattle.
My mother pointed to a lot and said, ”I’d like to see someone build anything there!” So, Dad built our first cottage there, next to the future site of our second cottage, where I now live. Roy and Carrie Nesbitt Boykin built the largest home in the cove, and were the first full-time residents. Herman Smart built at least 15 of the original homes in the cove. When he ran out of lots, he built on 2 more lots outside the cove.
My parents were educators, employed nine months of the year in the 1040’s and 1950’s, in Buncombe County. Three months and many weekends were spent in Lake Lure, where Mother and Dad built our cottage over time, and our family enjoyed Monday night square dances at the entrance to Chimney Rock, movies at an open-air wooden theatre across from the beach and meals at Lure Haven.
In his teens, my brother, Martin, Jr. (“Butch” to his friends and family) and his friends in Hickory Nut Gorge formed the first Lake Lure Ski Club. In the 1960’s, they performed weekly shows at the beach in the early evenings after the beach closed to swimmers. In the 1080’s, the next generation again performed at the beach. The shows included tricks, pyramids, jumps, barefooting and clown acts.
As the town grew, leaders saw the need for community involvement in establishing structure to guide the town in orderly growth. They volunteered their time to serve on committees and provide input for zoning ordinances and Lake Rules. I was asked to serve on the Lake Advisory Committee, which drafted the first lake regulations, after spending long hours considering how to regulate safe use and enjoyment of the lake for future generations.
As I became more interested in the town’s zoning ordinances and impact on property owners, I served on the Board of Adjustment and Lake Structures Appeal Board, until I was elected to Town Council in 2009.
When I broke my foot collecting water samples for the Town of Lake Lure, my interest in braiding wool rugs was renewed, because I could work in a rocking chair! I also began helping my Aunt Virginia Boone demonstrate and show this craft at Heritage Craft Shows and NC State Fairs. I was showing rugs at “Art in the Mart” in Hickory Furniture Mart, when I met another crafter, Bill Silvey, in 2005. We were married in 2010!
Mother and Dad loved Lake Lure and planned to retire here. However, that was not to be. Dad died in 1965. In 1974, Mother was appointed to the NC House of Representatives, where she served until her death in 1979. At that time, my brother was attorney for the Town of Lake Lure. He was appointed to the NC House of Representatives and served there until he ran successfully for the NC Senate, “so he wouldn’t have so many people to argue with”. He was a leader in the Senate until his death in 2014.
I praise God for having blessed me with opportunities to develop and enjoy my interests in family (4 children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great), career (40 years in public education, mental health and human services), community service in a place I love, and retirement in “The House That Built Me”. I thank Him for a sense of humor, which is a tool for survival, and hobbies, which have been my therapy!
Bill and I hope you can visit us and other crafters at work in the Virginia C. Boone Building, beside gate 5, at the Mountain State Fair, September 8 – 17!