Open House Planned For Silvermont

An open house at the Silvermont mansion on New Year’s Day, 2011, will celebrate the opening of the second floor house museum and the beginning of Transylvania County’s Sesquicentennial Year. The county will be 150 years old.
The museum, which has been 18 months in restoration, will reflect the era and lifestyle of Joseph Simpson Silversteen, the county’s first industrialist, and his wife Elizabeth and their three daughters, Miriam, Dorothy and Adelaide.
Although all three daughters married, none had children and there were no heirs to the estate.
Dorothy Silversteen Berg, the last remaining daughter, willed the mansion and grounds to the county shortly before her death in 1972.

At that time the mansion was fully furnished, according to Lee Stewart and Jan Osborne, co-coordinators of the Museum restoration.
“Most of the furnishings and personal belongings seem to have disappeared”, said Stewart, “but the house itself gives us clues to the lifestyle of the Silversteens. Most rooms were equipped with a buzzer for the maid, there was an intercom system and closet lights automatically went on when the closet door was opened and off again when it was closed.”
“The diaries of Dorothy and Adelaide also tell what life was like in the Silversteens’ heyday”, said Osborne, who has done much research concerning the family in the local history room at the Transylvania County Library. “We know they had an active social life as the girls were growing up. Both Mr. and Mrs. Silversteen were involved in civic organizations.”
Mrs. Silversteen was particularly committed to the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving in local, state and national leadership positions.”

The mansion has been through several periods of restoration, beginning in l980 when Friends of Silvermont, having thwarted an attempt to demolish the architecturally significant building, was formed.
At that time local citizens, including Don and Stella Trapp of The Transylvania Times, came forward to do the physical work of saving the mansion as well as fundraising for materials to be used in the salvage efforts.
Silvermont has been on the National Register of Historical Places since l981.
The current museum showcases eight rooms plus a foyer, three fireplaces and three baths. One room is set up as Mr. Silversteen’s office might have looked and another is Mrs. Silversteen’s office. From old photographs the parlor and dining room have been closely replicated.
There is also the Silversteen Room as requested in Dorothy’s will that showcase personal belongings of the family.
There is also a Children’s Room with a restored double perambulator and a bedroom that at one time was occupied by Adelaide.

Elaine Wood and Jean Brendle, known in the county for their creative designs for weddings, social and civic events, have served as advisors on fabrics and colors for the museum.
Coinciding with the opening of the museum is the beginning of Transylvania County’s sesquicentennial year (1861-2011).
Mike Hawkins, chairman of the event committee, will proclaim the beginning of the gala year.
County Manager Artie Wilson will serve as master of ceremonies.
Guis Siniard, who was responsible for securing the Silvermont Mansion and grounds for the county, will cut the ribbon, officially opening the second floor house museum.
Joe Fazio and Bill Mashburn will provide music.
Hours for the Open House, sponsored by Friends of Silvermont, are 2 to 4 p.m., Jan. 1.
Refreshments will be served. There is no admission charge. The second floor at Silvermont is not handicapped accessible.
For further information, call Transylvania County Parks and Recreation at 884 3156.
- Article courtesy of Mark Todd staff writer for the Transylvania Times

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