This is White Rock Hall, née White Rock Church, built in 1909 and located in Madison County, about an hour north of Asheville. It belongs to our friends Keith Flynn and Denise Petry. Keith is a poet, author, musician, and the editor of the Asheville Poetry Review, and the church is the first piece of a small arts retreat and conference center he and Denise are putting together. When the campus is complete, there’ll be class spaces, a recording studio, and cottages for overnight stays.
On Saturday, Lowell and I were invited to watch the church get moved from its original spot, at a crossroads, to its new home on a nearby hillside, where it will preside over some beautiful rolling acreage. The morning was cold and gray with a steady drizzle, and the operation got halted a couple times due to wet conditions and an aggressive tree incursion. A couple officers from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department were on hand to control (the nonexistent) traffic and, Keith said, to shoot the moving crew’s foreman “if he drops my church.”
The church had been shut up for a number of years before it went up for sale (it has no power or electricity, and there’s a bigger brick church down the street); a neighbor who was watching the move, a Mr. Hensley in a green John Deere cap, told me he’d last been inside for a funeral in 1966. But the building is still lovely in its bones, with what Denise calls its witch’s hat on top and a bell that clanged once — loudly — as the church got hoisted from its original spot.
Photo: “White Rock Hall Arrives” by Lowell Allen. If you squint you can see a lone figure standing on the hillside behind the church holding a beige umbrella. That’s me! Catching a cold! More photos here.