History | Showhouse Committee | Special Events | Beneficiaries | Thanks




Aging Gracefully: The board and batten exterior and stone chimney are among many of the home’s original materials that have withstood the test of time.

The poplars and oaks, cool lakes and wide-open views of the Blue Ridge Mountains have, many times over, given rise to the ideally situated summerhouse. Not surprisingly, it was this very brand of unrefined, natural terrain—complete with forests of hemlocks and lush rhododendron—that inspired a rambling two-story retreat dubbed Mountain Top, for its subtle command of a grassy hill just northwest of Cashiers in Jackson County.

The circa-1923 dwelling was designed by architectural pioneer Ester King Martin Metz, believed to be the first female to receive an architecture degree in North Carolina. The Asheville native drafted a summer cottage equipped with a small kitchen; great room with poplar paneling, two lofts, and a large granite fireplace; caretaker’s cottage; and breezeway, all outfitted with fine details clearly produced from a feminine perspective: built-in bookcases, sitting nooks, and integrated vanities. She would share the five-bedroom abode with her husband, Charles, whom she met as he recovered from a bout of tuberculosis contracted while working in Cuba. He designed the dam and lake on the property.

As it happened, this was a time of great development for the Cashiers Valley. An 1819 treaty with the Cherokee Indians freed up much of the area for development, making way for a central, if slow-going, artery for east- and westbound travel and commerce. Developing roads provided a thruway for pioneering families and drovers transporting livestock to markets in South Carolina, while Southern plantation owners set out in the opposite direction to escape hot and humid summers on the coast. Full-time residents became business owners overnight as they opened their doors to provide room and board for travelers. Elegant inns popped up near settled towns, as did a railroad with a spur line from Hendersonville to Lake Toxaway.

When the Great Depression hit, however, progress and commerce slowed. For their part, Ester and Charles sold most of the land they had collected in Jackson County. Eventually, the couple left Mountain Top, selling the land to a Charleston family. By 1940, the Asheville-based Gennett Lumber Company bought the land (it was co-founder Andrew Gennett, a Nashville attorney, who lobbied Washington to form the Weeks Act in 1911, which established the National Forest Service; he then sold a sizeable tract to the government which would become Joyce Kilmer National Forest).

The house was eventually sold to Carter, Andrew’s son, in 1942. Though the practice of buying up tracts of virgin mountain land was common for logging companies of the day, this acquisition was more than a simple business transaction. “My father, a lumberman, naturalist, and cattle rancher, bought the property because he loved that house, and he loved the lake,” says Katharine “Kiki” Gennett Henry who, together with her sister, Ann Gennett Summers, currently owns the property.

Even before Cashiers had grown into something of a booming resort town, Carter, his wife, Katherine Taylor Pearce Gennett, and their two daughters made a ritual of the trek from Asheville to their summerhouse, with a cook and maid in tow. “We’d hear blasting in the distance as new roads were being carved into the mountain,” recalls Kiki. Greeting them at the residence were the numerous hunting trophies of her father’s that hung in the great room. Grand elk, moose, ducks, and mule deer hang on opposing balconies and have since become a hallmark, of sorts, for the family’s haven. And there were other summertime staples, including a verdant vegetable garden in the meadow. “We had tomatoes, beans, corn, zucchini, and squash—anything you could think of,” says Kiki. Hurricane Lake is just down the hill, a frequent source of warm-weather entertainment.

A lively social scene also awaited the family. “My parents would hold summer parties in the great room, with a fire going in the large granite fireplace to keep things warm,” says Ann. “Our bedrooms were separated by the breezeway, so the parties would last well into the night.”

Meanwhile, Carter Gennett’s interests remained in lumber, with one of the lumber company’s 23 sawmills located in the Slabtown section of Cashiers. Gennett died on a hunting trip in 1957 at the age of 42, leaving his two teenage daughters to inherit Mountain Top. “The property is such an idyllic place,” says Kiki. “It is my soul home.”


—Constance Richards


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From the Showhouse Committee


The 2008 Showhouse Committee (in part)

Welcome to the 11th annual Cashiers Designer Showhouse! A community tradition, this very special design event welcomes a select group of local and national interior designers as they dramatically transform a single Cashiers dwelling, room by room. Laden with floor-to-ceiling design ideas, the Showhouse offers its nearly 4,000 annual visitors a peek inside the newly outfitted Cashiers residence, along with the opportunity to support two very important local organizations: the Cashiers Historical Society and the Cashiers Valley Community Council.

This year, in particular, has marked an exciting turning point for our Showhouse as we join forces with Asheville-based WNC magazine. Our official program sponsor, WNC offers this special preview of the event, complete with profiles of our talented designers—including famed tastemaker and Tulsa-based author Charles Faudree—sneak peeks of the finished rooms, and a list of resources to help you adapt design ideas to your own house, whether it’s here in the mountains or far beyond. Also included is an intriguing history of this year’s Showhouse, a circa-1923 summerhouse designed by architect Ester King Martin Metz, the first female to receive an architectural degree in North Carolina.

With an historic backdrop and an exciting roster of special events, this is shaping up to be an outstanding year for the Cashiers Designer Showhouse. We’d like to express our appreciation to everyone who has worked so hard to pull this together. Our special thanks go to the Showhouse committee, our 21 talented designers, and of course, to the Gennett family, particularly Katharine “Kiki” Henry and Ann Summers, for the use of their home.

We look forward to seeing you all at the event, opening August 16, 2008.


Elizabeth Rodriguez, Showhouse Chair
Skip Ryan, Showhouse Co-Chair



Showhouse Committee
Chairs: Elizabeth Rodriguez & Skip Ryan
Honorary Chairs: Hal Ainsworth & Winton Noah
Hosts: Kiki Henry & Ann Summers
2008 Grant Recipient: Cashiers Valley Community Council
Media Sponsor: WNC magazine

Cashiers Historical Society: Sarah Nelson
Cashiers Valley Community Council: Mark Jones
Corporate Sponsors: Sandy Hardy & Elizabeth Rodriguez
Designers: Skip Ryan
Media: Jim Ryan & Kim Snyder
WNC Magazine: Fran Parmelee

Boutique: Virginia Rice
Café: Carol Lane
Community Day: Eleanor Welling & Brooke McKinnon
Finances: Debbie Bennett
History: Jim Ryan
Landscaping: Lynette Moss
Logistics: Skip Ryan
Patron Party: Mollie Candler & Beth Sheridan
Photography: Gil Stose
Publicity: Ann McKee Austin, Jim Ryan, & Alice Scanlon
Shuttle: Cashiers Valley Community Council
Signage: Carroll Summerour
Special Events: Kitty Davis, Cassandra Manley, & Alice Scanlon
Sponsors: Carol Chanin & Linda Cravey
Staff: Kim Snyder
Ticket Pre-Sales: Peg Ellis & Deede Schuller
Volunteers: Margaret Kaminer & Carolyn Lofton


Honorary Chairs


Hal Ainsworth and Winton Noah’s design roots trace back to Atlanta in the early 1970s when they had a little antiques store on Peachtree Road. They soon realized that their customers were primarily designers, prompting the pair to open an 800-square-foot showroom at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC). Today, Ainsworth-Noah occupies 40,000 square feet at ADAC. Initially, Noah took the business on the road while Ainsworth worked the showroom with such notables as Edith Hills, Dan Carrithers, Sister Parish, and Charlotte Moss, to name a few. They attribute their success to loyal customers and longstanding friendships with Lisa Newsom of Veranda and Karen Carroll of Southern Accents, among many others.

Known for their considerable charitable efforts in Atlanta, the pair began extending the same generosity to Cashiers organizations since the area became a favorite escape of theirs many years ago. The Village Green, the Joy Garden Tour, and Summit Charter School have all benefited from their involvement. Additionally, Ainsworth and Noah have done tremendous work behind the scenes for the Cashiers Designer Showhouse since its inception 11 years ago, lending support and creative input as well as borrowed pieces to complete the rooms. We honor them for their continued support and constant contributions to all that makes Cashiers
special and unique.


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Special Events


Mountain Top is decked in high style for Turn Back the Hands of Time, a preview event catered by Lee Epting, with entertainment by Liquid Pleasure.


Location: Mountain Top Farm
Date: Friday, August 15
Time: 6 p.m.
Cost: $375 per couple

Join renowned interior designer Bunny Williams as she presents “Point of View,” a program based on her most recent book of the same name, published in October 2007 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Her work is frequently featured in such national shelter publications as Veranda, Architectural Digest, Southern Accents, and Town & Country. Williams is a 1996 inductee of the Design Hall of Fame and was recently recognized with the Timeless Design Award from The Royal Oak Foundation in May 2008. Williams will be on-hand immediately following the program to sign copies of Point of View.

Location: To be announced
Date: Tuesday, August 12
Time: 10:30 a.m., with a light lunch included
Cost: $125 per person

Glean floral inspiration and practical tips for decorating with flowers during Janet Porcher Gregg’s presentation of “Art-In Bloom.” Porcher Gregg serves as the floral editor of Charleston Home magazine in Charleston, South Carolina, and heads up a jewelry design company, JPG Ltd. Before moving to Charleston nearly five years ago, Porcher Gregg spent 14 years in New York City, where her tenure at Charlotte Moss’ Manhattan shop found her fashioning the store’s daily flower arrangements, among other responsibilities. She went on to serve as second-in-command at British design company Vaughan’s U.S. showroom, while launching her own floral design company.

Location: The Church of the Good Shepherd
Date: Saturday, August 16
Time: 11 a.m., with a light lunch included
Cost: $60 per person


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The Cashiers Historical Society’s first mission was to restore the circa-1850 Zachary-Tolbert House


The primary beneficiary of the Showhouse, the Cashiers Historical Society was founded in 1996 by a group of local and summer residents seeking to honor and preserve the rich history of Cashiers Valley. First on the group’s task list was restoration of the historic Zachary-Tolbert House, built in the 1850s near the Chattooga River by one of the first white settlers in Cashiers Valley. Now considered one of the premier house museums in Western North Carolina, the site offers regular tours and a full calendar of educational and cultural activities such as the annual Jan Wyatt Symposium, Founders’ Day for local schoolchildren, musical concerts, oral history projects, and much more.

Such preservation-minded efforts continue within the community, with current projects ranging from the Mountain Landscapes Initiative Program to the annual conferring of Village Heritage Awards, given to an individual or business who has preserved a historic site vital to the village character of Cashiers. For more information on the organization, or to find out how to make a donation, visit www.cashiershistoricalsociety.com.

A fixture in the Cashiers community since 1956, the Cashiers Valley Community Council is also a recipient of funds raised from the Showhouse. The council’s mission is to provide a venue for all manner of community-sponsored events, with past fundraising efforts resulting in the addition of tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, baseball and soccer fields, walking trails, a childcare facility, and a thrift store. Annual grants from the Cashiers Designer Showhouse, together with proceeds from the store, comprise the total operating budget of the council; resulting renovation and expansion projects have included an update of the Community Center, acquisition of additional acreage, and improvements to the Child Development Center. This year’s grant is earmarked for further structural updates to existing facilities.


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Our Deepest Appreciation to:


Kiki Henry and Ann Summers for sharing this incredible house.
Showhouse designers for their special talents.
WNC magazine for the hard work and effort put forth by their staff and for sponsoring the wonderful Bare Boards Party.
Bob's Docks for rebuilding the dock on the lake and giving us a place that is magical.
Lynda Simmons at Cashiers Printing for guiding us through the days, and helping us sleep at night.
Cashiers Valley Community Council for providing volunteers and for all the hard work put forth for this Showhouse and throughout the year for the community.
Gennett Lumber for installing beautiful floors.
Sonrise for pleasing the crowd.
Mountain Party Rentals for the tents, tables, chairs, and dance floor at the Patronís Party.
The Cashiers Farmers Market for the delicious barbecue and other selections at the Bare Boards Party.
Susan San Souci and the Designers Market for beautiful floors in the bathrooms.
The Church of the Good Shepherd for the use of your space for the ìArt-In Bloomî event.
Hal Ainsworth and Winton Noah for your dedication to this community and for the support and guidance you have given to decorators.
Lee Epting for your culinary delights and fabulous design and imagination.
Liquid Pleasure for providing wonderful entertainment.
Jeff Burden for the beautiful pencil drawing of Mountain Top Farm, and your gracious donation.
Bunny Williams, Janet Porcher Gregg, and WNC magazine for giving us three wonderful special events to enjoy.
Committee chairmen and all our volunteers for the generous donation of your time and dedication to making this Showhouse a success.
Chinquapin Designer Showhouse for support in their program.
Our Red Hot Sponsor, Tabasco, for its generosity, support, and commemorative bottles of Tabasco made for this special occasion.
Our Local Sponsors, McKee Properties, Hennessy Motors, and Summit Builders, for their support and believing in Cashiers.
McCarley Horticulture for setting the scene.
John Warren & the Cashiers Music Co. for their bluegrass and rhythm and blues music.
Gil Stose for the great support you have shown us, and for all of your wonderful photography.
Arlene Hendrix for holding our hands in the beginning, and leading the way.
Tim Osment for leading the Cashiers Historical Society.
Fran Parmelee for all of your guidance.
Alice Scanlon and Kitty Davis for your dedication and generosity
Timo, Carlos, Paula, and Isaac for hours of hard work put in at the Showhouse.
Kim Snyder for your incredible abilities, kindness, and generosity.
Skip Ryan for serving as a wonderful co-chair and designer liaison.
Rod Rodriguez for your incredible patience and support throughout this year.


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