By David Rogers. July 23, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — She is old, worn to the bone, and even fragile. She is getting a facelift, as well as a rejuvenation shot in the proverbial arm. Even in her old age, she is a beautiful backdrop for a party.
COVER IMAGE: Flat Top Manor was “lit up” by the end of the evening, as darkness fell on the event. Photographic image contributed by Kim Rogers for Blowing Rock News
An estimated 300 dinner guests, patrons, and staff members were on hand Saturday night to pay tribute to and celebrate the grand old lady of the High Country, Flat Top Manor, for The Denim Ball. Produced and hosted by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the sold-out 4th annual 2019 event attracted a host of High Country and regional notables, all passionate about the importance of the Cone Manor Estate maintained by the National Park Service to not only Blowing Rock, but the entire Western North Carolina region.
Started as a fun annual fundraiser for The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, The Denim Ball took on special meaning this year in that this was the first (and maybe the only) time the event was hosted at the iconic Flat Top Manor.
The logistics for staging such an event at the Manor are challenging with limited on-site places for people to park their vehicles. So Parkway Foundation volunteers directed attendees to the Broyhill Equestrian Preserve for parking (coordinated with the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show Foundation) and shuttled the dinner guests and patrons (in buses and private cars and minivans) to the Cone Manor where they were checked in and admitted to the event.
The dinner itself was staged on the front lawn, under a large tent that ran the width of the expansive and terraced grassy area, in the middle of which are the Manor’s grand front steps leading up to the veranda.
A silent auction was, appropriately, organized to the west side of the house next to the wine and beverage bar. There’s nothing like a little alcohol to loosen those purse strings.
After opening remarks by Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation executives and the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Superintendent, J.D. Lee, a longtime veteran of the National Park Service, a “live” auction was conducted by Blowing Rock resident Jenny Miller, asking patrons to “buy” or sponsor different features of the Flat Top Manor structure, from veranda columns to windows and doorways. Thanks in large measure to an anonymous benefactor who reportedly purchased at least 14 columns or doors (upwards of $72,000), the funds raised for the evening catapulted to well over $100,000.
At least as important as the monies immediately raised is the public awareness brought to the Flat Top Manor needs. Once the Colonial Revival-style summer home of Moses and Bertha Cone (Moses was a highly successful textile manufacturer in the Piedmont, known as “the Denim King”), in recent years parts of the Manor have fallen into disrepair. In response, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation launched The Denim Ball in 2016 as part of a multi-year effort to raise $3.6 million toward the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park’s restoration and renovations.
Additional information about the fundraising efforts and the remaining needs can be obtained at www.brpfoundation.org.