Of cigarette foil, good gin and apples without oranges makes for a good Blowing Rock history lesson

Of cigarette foil, good gin and apples without oranges makes for a good Blowing Rock history lesson
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ineke thomas
Ineke Thomas, center, offers information about famous guests who have stayed on the inn property.

By David Rogers. June 12, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Craft some amusing stories about an old, even iconic house with views that stretch a hundred miles, then throw in some Elliot Daingerfield and Moses Cone-related anecdotes for perspective — and do it all on location — and you have the makings of a memorable meeting of the Blowing Rock Historical Society on Sunday at what once was known as the Lindau House, now more commonly referred to as “Gideon Ridge.”

COVER IMAGE: The view from the back porch of Gideon Ridge stretches for miles upon miles.  All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

Some 60 members of the Historical Society parked their cars in the big field near the intersection of U.S. 321 and Rock Rd. Most were shuttled by car, but a few courageous souls, including a news reporter, panted their way up the winding road that seemed to grow ever steeper as you neared the top and the Gideon Ridge Inn destination.

Rita White reads note from Sue Glenn about some of the property’s history.

After sampling the wine, water and a dazzling array of scrumptious “finger food” (Marcia Quinn’s lemon “whatchamacallits” were pure heaven), the members heard comments from Historical Society president Rita White and event coordinator Ineke Thomas.

White read a note from Blowing Rock realtor and longtime resident Sue Glenn, who at one time owned the property.

“I don’t know how they will be telling the stories from the Lindau days. That Ken Heavlin ended up with the house, thinking he was buying it as a “straw man” for Grover Robbins, Jr., was kind of a funny twist.

“The light switches are placed lower than you usually find because the Lindau daughters were small children when they first moved into the house and they needed to be able to reach them. I was told that the soft plaster used in the house was an unusual formula because of a scarcity of proper materials during the war, as the house was being built between 1939 and 1941.

“Mrs. Linday, I was told, liked to paint. In what was then the attic, in the north dormer, the framing of the dormer was lined with foil cigarette box liners to additionally reflect the light.  That was still there when I arrived.  I’m told the Heavlins found more than one case of really good gin in the cellar when they arrived in the 1950s. That didn’t last long!

“I was personally fascinated by the remnants that the Lindaus left behind. I think the Milners (current owners) ended up with the original garden landscaping plan.  The Lindaus wanted to incorporate native plants into the original gardens as much as they could. Langston Owen Tolbert (Lank), who had tended the Green Hill Orchards for the Cones and had raised his children in the house down the hill (on what is now Cone Orchard Road), was still the caretaker when I arrived in 1972 and during most of the 1970s. He was an amazing resource. Many of the original perennial plantings and shrubs were still in place then and many may still be.

…in the bright light, I was able to see the artist’s name — Elliott Daingerfield!

“Many of the books on the shelves had also been left by the Lindaus. There were a number of books about being Jewish during and after the War. There were tons of natural history volumes about wildflowers and plants and birds, many of which I still have. And there were a number of books that were from Bertha or Moses Cone and a few from Bertha’s sisters.

“I told you about the painting that I found in the attic. Behind some clutter, I had spotted an oil painting of a still life of some apples, though the painting was mildewed and dirty.  When I took it to a local framer to have it cleaned and reframed, he took off the old frame and in the bright light I was able to read the artist’s name — Elliott Daingerfield!

“Rather than have the local framer attempt to clean the painting, I checked with the Mint Museum to see whom they might recommend. They recommended artist Darryl Kortheur (who also spent considerable time in Valle Crucis). I took the painting down to him and he cleaned and restored it. 

“When I brought it back and had it reframed, Elliott Daingerfield’s two daughters, Marjorie and Gwendolyn, were still living out at their house adjacent to Westglow.  I called them, explained that I had found this painting, and asked if they would like to see it. They couldn’t have been more gracious! The next day I took it out to their house. Their home on the gorge was covered top to bottom with their father’s paintings and drawings! It was amazing!  By then I had seen a few Daingerfield paintings, but nothing like these! They showed me all through the house.  The large north-facing room upstairs was still being used as a painting studio — I thought by Marjorie, though she is known as a sculptor. It was a lovely visit!

These are apples from Windwood!

“Then a couple of days later, Marjorie called me. She told me, ‘I had to tell you! I believe I remember when your painting was done! We were still living in town at Windwood. When we were there, Moses Cone used to ride over on his horse and visit with Father. One time when he came, he brought a big basket of apples from his orchards. Father fretted and fretted. What could he possibly give back to Moses Cone? So he took some of the apples and created a modest still-life and presented THAT to Moses Cone and explained, ‘These are apples from Windwood!”

“I thought that was a lovely story and captured the kind of personal interactions that are still such a typical part of Blowing Rock life.

“When my husband Ken was so ill with Alzheimer’s and confined to nursing home care, I sold the painting to the Hickory Museum of Art to help manage his care.  They still have it as part of their permanent collection and have loaned it to the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum a couple of times.”

After White’s remarks and relaying Glenn’s notes, Thomas spoke about her research on some of the various guests of the property. They include Wayne Huizenga, the Lindau daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Newt Gingrich (and a Secret Service detail), Linda Lavin (star of the hit TV show, “Alice”), David Hartman (founding anchor of “Good Morning America” with Joan Lunden), David Gerson (former advisor to President Ronald Reagan), and musician Sia, among others.

UPCOMING HISTORICAL SOCIETY EVENTS

  • June 18 — Jerry Burns Day, 3:30 pm, Edgewood Cottage
  • July 15 — Artists in Residence Opening Reception, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Edgewood Cottage
  • July 19 through October 30 — Artists in Residence Season
  • August 5 — Annual Meeting, American Legion Building

 

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