Logs from historic Rock Springs arbor to be auctioned
ANNA J. FORTENBERRY
After months of work, repairs to the Rock Springs Campground arbor have been completed. Nearly $90,000 in renovations got under way this past spring. The almost-200-year-old hand-hewn logs removed during the restoration project will be offered at public auction to the highest bidders on Saturday, July 28 beginning at 10 a.m. The auction will be conducted by Denver auctioneer Col. Wayne Foster.
“We had many requests from individuals seeking the timbers and it was the decision of the campground trustees that the fairest way to dispose of them was the scheduling of an auction,” said trustee board chairman Van Barker Jr. “There’s a semi-trailer loaded with various lengths of timbers that will be available and will be sold piece-by-piece.”
The Rock Spring Methodist Campground arbor, an open air church that seats 1,000, was constructed between 1830 and 1832 from trees cut from the 40-acre campus. Religious services have been held annually the first week in August since 1830 at the historic site 1/2-mile east of the center of Denver on Campground Road.
This will be the second auction conducted with the arbor in mind. In 2011, Tent No. 1, that was owned by the campground, was sold to help raise money for the repair work. Now the timber will be sold to help fund other campground needs and projects.
Rotting wood and damage from the sun had its toll on the historic arbor. The repairs were necessary to maintain the structure.
And rather that do it themselves or with local volunteers, the trustees decided to hire experts to do the repairs. They wanted to ensure that the work would be professionally done in keeping with the architectural integrity, and be done correctly and safely.
“We’re getting the rotten wood replaced,” said Rev. Tony Matthews when the project began. Matthews serves as preacher at Bethel United Methodist Church, serves as the camp meeting preacher and is a member of the board of trustees. “UV rays had also damaged the beams. The wood will be replaced and treated. It will be retreated to make it last another 200 years.”
The wood used for the repair work was salvaged and bought from an old barn in the Amish country from New England through Appalachian Hardwoods, a company that specializes in reclaimed wood. The company tears down old barns and homes and “recycles” the wood for other construction projects.
Beams came from an old dairy barn that was constructed around 1835. It was similar structure as the arbor with hand-hewn beams made in the same manner as the arbor. The wood is ash, oak, and hardwood from the barn. It was held in Waynesville until the construction was ready to begin and then shipped in to the Denver site. It was delivered to the campground and was laid out on the ground waiting to replace the old wood in the arbor.
Since the repair cost was estimated at around $60,000 the trustees decided to sell off Tent No. 1 in June of 2011. The tent had been sold to the campground trustees by its owner Blair Abernethy, only the fourth owner of the historic tent. The No. 1 tent still had some of its original timbers. The trustees had planned to use the tent for the camp meeting preacher’s use or as a museum, but the need to repair the arbor took precedence and the decision was made to sell it for the funds to do the work.
The tent brought $34,500. The tent was torn down and a new one took its place before camp meeting 2011. The new owners, Mary Ann Curtis of Davidson and her daughter Jennifer Thompson of Denver, had some of the wood from the old former structure used in the new tent by incorporating it in the benches outside.
Some contributions were sought to help with the repairs to make up the difference. And now some of the wood that is removed from the arbor will also be auctioned. So you can also own a piece of history and help defray the repair costs.
The arbor was built of hand-hewn timbers and put together with wooden pegs. It was built in or completed in 1833. Records show that the trustees paid Temple Shelton $5 for 2,000 boards, A. Lowe $10.25 for boards, William Cornelius $12.37 for boards and $20.50 for 3,000 boards on August 7, 1835.
The repair work took several months. But as expected, the arbor is ready for Rock Springs Camp Meeting 2012.
“You won’t be able to tell the difference,” said trustee Van Barker when Tent No. 1 was sold.
Want to Go?
Where: Arbor at Rock Springs Campground, off Highway 16 on Campground Road. Turn at Stacy’s towards Mooresville.
Saturday, July 28
Time: 10 a.m.