July 24, 2015 Written by

The past – our ancient of days – whispers distant lessons for our present-day living, for steering ourselves through the morass of our human walk, for finding vision for the future. But history’s strange noise often echoes too low on our horizons for us to grasp. Still, the message beckons for someone to hear – or even to see.

In Highlands, North Carolina, at The Park on Main®, we take occasion to note the grand artifacts of our not-so-distant ancestors, our geographical grandparents. What do they say to us? What can we learn?

We at The Park on Main® – the luxury, pet-friendly hotel atop a plateau of the Southern Appalachian Mountains – hold a sense of fortune for our place on the map, rich with local history’s architecture. Highlands, North Carolina regards those days of old with honor, respect and gratitude for that road to the present laid by our vanishing heroes. In this article, we focus on the old schools in Highlands, North Carolina.

Old Schools in Highlands

Taking a Look at the Old Schoolhouses

The Highlands Historical Society outlines some of the area’s unique and interesting highpoints of the early years of the last century involving local public education. Prior to 1928, the Highland’s district had six schools:

  • Named for the mountain, Shortoff School of 1882 still stands across Buck Creek Road from Shortoff Baptist Church. Susan “Miss Tudie” Rice used to teach at the school. According to the historical society, she later taught 1940s actress Ava Gardner at her Smithfield, North Carolina home and served as secretary to American novelist Thomas Wolfe.
  • Highlands Village School was the city’s first, in 1878. Botanist Thomas Harbison built the school as an academy – which was one of the first public schools in North Carolina with grades. The school used to set where the city’s Town Hall is today. The school’s old bell, which called students from as far as seven miles away, is still used in the Town Hall tower.
  • Town Clock School replaced Highlands Villages School in 1916. This school was built on the hill behind the first one-story schoolhouse on Knowledge Hill. The two-story Town Clock School was the city’s tallest building until the construction of Highlands School in 1951 in Muddy Hollow.
  • Woodrow Wilson, who later became the 28th President, spent the summer at Horse Cove School in 1879. The school is now a home near the Whiteside Cover turnoff from Horse Cove Road.
  • Highland residents Aunt Mett Picklesimer Brooks and Irene Picklesimer James, both 101 years old, attended Clear Creek School, which is now a home near Sassafras Gap Road turnoff.
  • In the 20th century’s early decades, Beryl Morgan of Franklin taught students at Broadway Gap School, off Highway 106 where Turtle Pond Road comes off the mountain.
  • Annie Hughes taught six grades of students who sat on logs in one room at Flat Mountain School. The school’s site is where the pavement ends on Flat Mountain Road.

All the schools in the Highlands district were consolidated in 1928 into the Town Clock School. Some students in Clear Creek, Horse Cove, Flat Mountain and Broadway had to walk up to seven miles to school, carrying lanterns and leaving before dawn.

Explore Highlands, North Carolina’s wealth of history and enjoy your stay at The Park on Main®. Did you find this information useful or get it get you thinking about your old school days? Are you planning to head this way soon? Come visit us or make reservations today. Let us know how we can be of service to you by following us on our social media channels.

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About The Park on Main

The Park on Main hotel is located in the quaint village of Highlands, North Carolina, a picturesque mountain retreat nestled in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. A boutique style hotel, the Park on Main offers 24 luxury suites, each facing an exquisitely landscaped central park-like garden terrace.

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