Some thoughts on Saluda’s historic houses and buildings

Published 11:48 am Friday, February 16, 2024

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Year after year after year

I have come to love slowly

how old houses hold themselves—

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before November’s drizzled rain 

or the refreshing light of June—

as if they have all come to agree 

that, in time, the days are no longer 

a matter of suffering or rejoicing.

I have come to love 

how they take on the color of rain or sun 

as they go on keeping their vigil

without need of a sign, awaiting nothing

more than the birds that sing from the eaves, 

the seizing cold that sounds the rafters.

Robert Cording ~  ‘Old Houses’ 


Last Friday, I attended a Historic Saluda meeting at our town’s library, my focus on something on the agenda that greatly disturbs me and should get us all concerned. I think back to what happened to Hunting Country’s “Possum Trot,” and here we go again. 

The threat of losing yet another landmark, a treasure, just because someone with lots of money from somewhere else buys a place, then decides it’s time to destroy it. 

Now, it’s the house known as Crystal Springs, in honor of the natural springs that run through the property: the pond with sandy beach in back holding memories for Saluda kids and families who were allowed to come there thanks to the Ashley family who owned the place for decades. This is, to quote Cindy Tuttle, Historic Saluda’s president, the second-most historical house in Saluda, harking back to around 1899 when it was built. 

Folks, it bears repeating: once it’s gone, it’s GONE. When what makes your town special is lost, it becomes like other places, the heart and soul ripped out. There are those people who welcome wider roads, more traffic, strip malls, endless development—more everything, yet nothing of historic value remaining. I’d say a great many of us prefer caution and thinking ahead. 

Recently the historic Crystal Springs house and property here in Saluda sold to a couple from Coronado Springs, California. They’d actually been in the house once. The rest was handled through their real estate agent, and all inspections were done. In other words, they had every chance to back out, throw up their hands and say NO! 

Instead, the sale went through, and promises to renovate the home gave neighbors hope. After the closing, things changed suddenly; the buyers declared the house was too far gone—citing termites, mold, expense, and so on. I’ll say, having LIVED in old places a good part of my life, and thinking I’m sort of an expert on Saluda homes, well…what old house DOESN’T have those issues? Besides, ask Preservation N.C. or This Old House…about any structure can be saved. 

Crystal Springs may well be a ‘private home’, but there are many, many Saluda folks and beyond that love and care for the whole place. It’s important to know a town’s community before thinking of doing such a drastic thing. 

The old girl deserves someone who will love her, wrinkles and all. She deserves no less, and she doesn’t deserve such an end. 

At the meeting, I kept my mouth shut (rare, I know!) but wanted to learn the facts, be fair to all sides, and listen to what was said. The couple’s realtor was in attendance, the Historic Saluda committee, a representative of Preservation N.C. and a large number of Saluda residents, many of whom live in and love old homes. 

I learned that the fire department has visited Crystal Springs three times since it changed hands. It could be burned, and six mature poplar trees could be taken down. Burning old buildings is an environmental hazard, in case folks need reminding. This would be the “cheapest” way to get rid of the structure. Tearing it down gets more labor-intensive and expensive. 

This is part of Saluda’s history, a part of our story, our families. And many of us knew the Ashleys. The house needs love, and work, yes. But she’s a jewel, a treasured part of the fabric of the past. She deserves better and our town must do better to have protections in place for what’s going up new and preserving what’s part of our history. 

Feel free to contact me at, (828) 817-6765, P.O. Box 331, Saluda, NC 28773, Facebook, or visit