Paint Rock Farm is the culmination of decades of work and planning resulting in a “dream come true” project for me. I have always found Nature outdoing man when it comes to creating the most beautiful environments to celebrate our lives. When I discovered PRF nearly 12 years ago I instantly knew I was fortunate to have discovered a real jewel in Western North Carolina. Bordered by the French Broad River on one side, tucked up against National Forest on the other, and with 360 panoramic views of additional national forest in every direction, PRF is a place that reminded one of another time when life was simple, beautiful, and peaceful. It is quite a surprise when you turn off Paint Rock Road and after coming up the driveway you find yourself landing on a vast expansive level field, a rare commodity in the steep mountain terrain of WNC. To the west of this gentle field lies 112 acres of mature forest, Canoe Creek, and miles of trails. As a conservationist one of my main goals was to protect the integrity of the forest so in 2010 my current partners and I placed the entire forest into a conservation easement with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, forever protecting the forest as well as the viewshed as this property can be seen from many area hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail. I consider many possible options for the land after that including an organic farm, a vacation rental business, or a sustainable development. I tried many, many, land plans that divided it up in different ways but every time I saw survey lines cutting up this remaining 40 acres of wide-open beauty it would never feel right. I began to bring several people I trusted and admired to the property over time and listened to what they saw and said about the property. I received a variety of answers, and one friend pointed out to me what an extraordinary barn we had and saw it as the main asset, something I had not really considered before that point. It took another couple of years for all this great advice to sink in and then as it did I was fortunate to have my best friend, Chis Nelson, from all the way back in high school come in and buy out my existing partner. A friend who was completely aligned with my goals of sustainability , protecting this amazing land , and creating a place where people can come to celebrate their lives in the “ Cathedral of Nature” and find solace from their busy lives. My wife Allison, a creative visionary and multitalented designer who creates beautiful spaces wherever she goes rounded out our team. Sometimes the obvious is right in front of you…
It was clear right away that the history of the land could dictate the name. The state road leading to the farm was already named Paint Rock Road. There is a very famous petroglyph directly across the river from us as well named Paint Rock and the final clincher was discovering that Paint Rock was named after one of the Cherokee Clans. As it turns out this Clan was the Clan that were the healers and shamans of the Cherokee Nation. What a perfect fit for our intentions for this land!
As we began to restore the historic property, clearing out old sheds and other things around the barn revealed the jewel we had in the old barn. As good fortune would have it, the nephew of the man who built the barn in 1950 was available to undertake the renovation of the barn. Soon we had removed some of the interior poles opening up space beautifully and then a new pine floor was installed ready for dancing! A room for caterers to set up and a large covered entrance deck was added. Now there are 3200 sq feet of interior space, a 560 sq foot covered deck, and an adjoining grass terrace with expansive views of the French Broad River.
We continue to restore the property, adding modern amenities as we go. We recently completed a very well-appointed bathhouse, complete with solar hot water and heated floors, and are expanding lodging accommodations to include 10 luxe screened glamping cabins.