In the spring of 2010, the town was grieving over the potential loss of one of its major icons, Historic Thompson’s Store. It was apparent that Saluda could easily fall victim to unwelcomed and unplanned change, not only in the closing of this treasured icon, but in many other ways as well. Two public meetings were called that spring by part-time resident Cindy Stephenson Tuttle, who is also a descendent of some of Saluda’s founding families. The meetings were called due to her concern for the future of the town’s historical integrity. Cathy Jackson, of Cathy Jackson Realty and publisher of the e-magazine Saluda Lifestyles, was integral in helping Cindy to coordinate these meetings by using her lengthy list of contacts and subscribers to her magazine to spread the word about these meetings.
Cindy requested that a committee be formed to look at the future of Saluda from the perspective of overall historic preservation and asked that someone local be appointed to chair the committee. The City of Saluda and its City Commissioners embraced this idea and in June 2010 the committee became an official committee of the city. Saluda City Commissioners appointed a seven member panel to guide the work of the committee and to report to the Commissioners. Lynn Cass, full-time resident and recent retiree from Macon, Georgia, was appointed to the position of Chair and Cindy Tuttle was appointed Co-Chair. The Historic Saluda Committee held its first official meeting on July 9, 2010, the day before Coon Dog Day and just three months after the first public meeting was held.
The first task of the committee was to survey property owners in the Saluda Township to determine their project interests for this committee. This survey was made available electronically through Saluda Lifestyles and hardcopies were mailed to citizens by the City of Saluda. The top five projects out of seventeen potential projects, as selected by the citizens in rank order were:
The number one response to the survey was to collect and preserve oral histories of Saluda’s Senior Citizens. As a result, an Oral History Committee was formed as a subcommittee of the Historic Saluda Committee. The first project of this committee involved producing an oral history film documentary in DVD format. The Oral History Committee chose to work with Eljapa Media Group of Asheville. Eljapa has worked with the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) in the past, producing an introductory video when the BRNHA was first established. In 2009, Eljapa worked with McDowell County Tourism on the McDowell County Oral History website, which was funded in part by a BRNHA grant. In 2010-2011, Eljapa produced the oral history DVD “Home Hearth, and History: Stories of Old Saluda” for the Saluda Oral History Committee, which premiered on July 2, 2011 at the Saluda Mountain Jamboree at a free showing for the community.
“Home, Hearth and History: Stories of Old Saluda” was made possible by seed money from the City of Saluda and by private donations from Saluda’s citizens. The City Commissioners and the citizens of Saluda embraced this project without hesitation and with great passion. Donations were given in honor and memory of loved ones. The DVD is now available for sale by local merchants in Saluda.
From the proceeds of the sales of the DVD, the Oral History Committee has been able to fund a Historic Saluda website: historicsaluda.org. Eljapa Media Group produces this website for the committee. The website was developed primarily to archive the on-going collection of oral histories and to feature the historical aspects of Saluda. Oral histories are continuing to be collected by members of the Oral History Committee and are archived and made available to the public on the website.
The Mayor and Commissioners also asked the newly formed Historic Saluda Committee to assume the City Hall restoration project, which had laid dormant for some time. Restoration of City Hall has been a long standing priority of the Commissioners and as reflected in the survey is a priority of Saluda citizens.
The Historic Saluda Committee has met almost monthly since it was formed. It is an advisory committee that reports to the Mayor and Board of Commissioners, with all of the meetings open to the public. The committee has identified the collection and preservation of oral histories and the restoration of Saluda City Hall as its two greatest priorities at this time.
We are also happy to report that independently, the Historic Thompson’s Store and Ward’s Grill were reopened in 2010 by Charlie Ward’s widow, Judy Ward, along with his cousin, Clark Thompson.
Timeline of events for the Historic Saluda Committee:
April and May 2010: Two public meetings called by Cindy Stephenson Tuttle.
May 2010: Citizens and city leaders embrace concept of Historic Saluda Committee.
June 2010: Saluda City Commissioners vote to approve a new Historic Saluda Advisory Committee and seven members are appointed.
July 9, 2010: First meeting of Historic Saluda Committee (HSC).
October 2010: HSC meets with Mayor and City Commission; they commit to funding City Hall restoration.
June 2011: Saluda Tour of Homes fundraiser to benefit City Hall restoration is held featuring homes on Smith Hill.
July 2011: The DVD Home, Hearth and History: Stories of Old Saluda premiers at Saluda Mountain Jamboree and is made available for sale.
October 2011: Work begins on stabilization of City Hall.
December 25, 2011: New Historic Saluda website is launched – www.historicsaluda.org
Members of the Historic Saluda Committee are:
Lynn Cass, Chair
Cindy Stephenson Tuttle, Co-chair
The Oral History Committee is a sub-committee under the Historic Saluda Committee.
Cindy Stephenson Tuttle, Chair
Charlene Pace, Co-Chair
Cindy Stephenson Tuttle, Coordinator
Kim Clark, Eljapa Media, Webmaster
Cindy S. Tuttle interviewed on 88.7 WNCW-FM June 6, 2011 about the Oral History project and the release of the “Home, Hearth, and History” DVD: