In the first half of this year, Ayr Mount has had the pleasure of hosting 103 tours, with a total of 715 visitors thus far – an increase in tours from last year!
In June, as part of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers National Conference (SAPFM), Ayr Mount hosted a special tour for 44 members. Twelve pieces of furniture from Ayr Mount’s collection were shown to the group, allowing for close examination of the construction of each piece. This visit was noted by its organizers as the highest attended regional offering outside of the regular SAPFM National Conference, and by all accounts it was a very enjoyable and memorable tour.
In March, Ayr Mount staff attended the annual Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST) conference. This was an exciting year as it marked the 40th anniversary of the Trail, which started with a vision by Howard Lee for a footpath in North Carolina linking the mountains to the sea. The Trail now stretches almost 1,200 miles across North Carolina from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks… and of course, through Classical American Homes Preservation Trust’s own Ayr Mount property!
[Continued from the Summer Newsletter.]
Bringing the Trail from idea into existence required a creative partnership involving local communities and trail groups, land trusts, federal and state land agencies, private landowners, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, and the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The initial trail corridor was chosen by making use of existing trails on publics lands and connecting them to key natural features across the State. After the Mountains to Sea Trail was adopted as part of the state parks system, park planners worked with local communities to develop plans for particular areas.
In Orange County, where Ayr Mount is located, the chatter around the Trail began in the late 90s. The MST did not have a definitive corridor through the central part of the state, and a handful of Hillsborough residents wanted to ensure the route included their historic town. The residents reached out to the Town of Hillsborough and CAHPT, which had recently acquired the Occoneechee Speedway and James M. Johnston Nature Preserve property. Together the residents, the town of Hillsborough, and CAHPT approached the County to bring them on board. The County was receptive to the idea, and the residents’ dream started to take shape.
The MST corridor was routed through Hillsborough, and Hillsborough and CAHPT worked together to establish the definitive route. Hillsborough’s portion of the project, named Riverwalk, started with a 0.3 mile long section opened in 2009 and was finished in 2014 as a 1.8 mile long greenway along the Eno River, through downtown. CAHPT worked with the FMST to open a 0.75 mile segment through the Johnston Nature Preserve in 2011 and completed the last phase of the project in 2017 with a footbridge spanning the Eno River.
Ultimately, the efforts of Hillsborough, Orange County, the State of North Carolina, Friends of Mountains-to-Sea, and CAHPT resulted in a 3.5 mile trail, connecting neighborhoods and cultural, natural, and historic sites. The trail provides residents a place to stay active in nature and visitors a convenient, scenic way to explore Hillsborough.
Although the portion of the MST that runs through CAHPT’s property is complete, the state project continues. Currently, there are around 700 miles of Trail. The completed sections are linked together by 500 miles of alternate back roads, enabling continuous hiking across the state. Looking forward, the goal is to move the remaining 500 miles onto off road trails so that the idea of a walkable trail from the mountains to the sea is realized.