The Forever Place

The Forever Place: A Brevard couple’s cozy Stickley cottage preserves generations of memories
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Pulled up close to the kitchen table, Mac and Veronica Morrow take steady sips from cups of hot coffee and tea that are sending tendrils of steam into the air. It’s cool and clear outside, and the kitchen is the place to begin the morning, the place to pull a sweater around your chest and settle in.

Just off East Main Street in Brevard, the couple’s two-story house is known among family members as Stone Cottage, and as the Royal and Louise Morrow House in the National Register of Historic Places. Royal and Louise, Mac’s grandparents, built the Gustav Stickely-designed home, which bears the revered furniture maker’s Craftsman style, in 1915.

It retains most of the original fixtures—from the domed glass light in the dining room to the delicate door knockers painted with intricate flowers, which hang outside the upstairs bedrooms. The dark-stained wood moldings—all original—are rich frames for the doors and windows. And the six-and-a-half-foot stone fireplace in the living room encourages the idea of lighting a fire, pulling out a book, and settling into one of the down-filled couches for an afternoon of reading.

Though Stickley is most well known for his furniture, he also published design plans for houses. This was the second of his designs that Royal and Louise built. The first was located in nearby Sapphire, but burned in the 1930s. Built with a combination of local gneiss and granite salvaged from the ruins of the nearby Hume Hotel, which was destroyed during the Civil War, the home has been passed down through generations of Morrows, and is thought to be the oldest remaining stone cottage in Transylvania County.

As a child, Mac spent many afternoons drinking tea and reading with his grandmother, who spent years in Europe studying art, and was “a very proper lady,” Mac says. Royal was a civil engineer who worked on the development of the Blue Ridge Parkway and designed several youth camps in the region. Both loved to read, and their hardbound first editions—from Charles Dickens’ tomes to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables—are among the titles that fill built-in bookshelves in the living room, bedroom, and office. “The attic was filled with trunk after trunk after trunk of books,” Veronica says.

In a sense, Mac and Veronica are curators, treating the home with careful reverence for its role as a family touchstone, are curators. They preserve Royal and Louise’s memory, as well as the heritage of Mac’s mother’s family, the Macfies, throughout the home.

The two moved in 35 years ago, and since, furnishings that had been parceled to family members over the years have found their way back to Stone Cottage. The secretary in the living room came from Charleston, South Carolina, and originally belonged to Louise. It sat in the den at Mac’s father’s home for years. “I think my grandfather hid his whiskey in there,” Mac says with a laugh. Antique blue-and-white Copeland Spode china festooned with scenes of the English countryside collected by the Macfie family is stacked in the kitchen’s original built-in cabinet.
Some pieces were restored. The grandfather clock in the dining room was found in the basement in pieces, says Veronica. “When Mac’s parents died, nobody wanted it, because what would you do with it? But we kept it because we love old things.” The eight-foot-tall J.J. Elliott clock was made in London in 1892, and its seven bells send a beautiful chime every 15 minutes.

Other items never strayed far. An iron candelabra made from a wagon axle survived the 1925 fire at nearby St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, where it had been lent for a candlelight service. “It was one of the only things to survive the fire,” Mac says. Now it sits in a place of honor in a corner of the dining room and is used to mark birthdays. “It’s a celebration when the candles are lit,” Veronica says.

It isn’t hard to imagine more than a dozen people gathered around the Morrows’ English oak dining room table, celebrating a family occasion or feasting on Thanksgiving dinner. Mac and Veronica are as welcoming as their home, and are well-known in Brevard.

They raised their daughter, Jenifer, and Mac’s cousin, Cody Macfie, in the home, just a few miles from where Mac grew up. Tall and athletic, Mac graduated from high school in Brevard, and joined the Marine Corps. He met Henderson County-native Veronica on a blind date when he was on leave in his 20s. “I just came back from overseas, met Veronica, and boy, it was a whirlwind,” he says, joking that Veronica, who worked at a local bank then, “was the pretty face in the front office.”

The two married, and Mac went on to study recreating and natural resources at Clemson University’s College of Forestry. They’d regularly visit Brevard and drive by the home—which was rented for about 10 years—and talk about how much they’d love to come back. When Mac graduated, they called his uncle and asked to move in. “He said ‘absolutely,’ ” Mac says, and the couple set up house in 1976, spending nearly every free second and penny on restoring the place. “We were a young couple in an old house,” Mac says. “It was a big commitment.” But one that paid off, as they bought the place in 1979.

Now the general manager at KEIR Manufacturing, Mac is marking his 15th year on the Brevard City Council. Former Governor Jim Hunt awarded him the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1984 for decades of community service, including working to site the North Carolina Arboretum. Veronica works at a local law firm and is active with St. Philip’s Church and Young Life youth ministry.

Now the general manager at KEIR Manufacturing, Mac is marking his 15th year on the Brevard City Council. Former Governor Jim Hunt awarded him the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1984 for decades of community service, including working to site the North Carolina Arboretum. Veronica works at a local law firm and is active with St. Philip’s Church and Young Life youth ministry.