The Silvermont mansion, built in 1917 and now on the National Register of Historic Places, was the home of industrialist and philanthropist Joseph Silversteen and his family.
In 1902, the Silversteen family came to Transylvania County, where Silversteen started tanning and lumber companies. The mansion and 8 acres that surround it were willed to the county in 1972. It has been a county park and a hub of regular activity ever since.
In 2018, the county’s Recreation Department began staffing and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Senior Center on the first floor of the Silvermont mansion. This change has seen the number of senior programs and seminars offered increase over the past year.
Another positive change has resulted in an increase in participation for the Land of Waterfalls Senior Games and Silver Arts. The Transylvania Heritage Museum will be operating the mansion’s Second Floor House Museum, which allows visitors to step back in time and imagine how the Silversteen family lived. It is open each Thursday from 6 to 7:15 p.m. and on Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. through October. Special tours may be requested by contacting the Heritage Museum at (828) 884-2347 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Thursday, the mansion also hosts “Mountain Music,” starting at 7:30 p.m. This free event features area musicians. Much is happening on the park grounds, as well. Silvermont had an extensive master plan conducted, which was approved by county commissioners in November of 2018. For more information on this plan, visit www.countyrec.org.
A walking trail through the park starts at the front of the property, where the “Walk of History” leads you past representative trees with signage connecting the trees to periods of Transylvania County history. Walkers, joggers, youngsters in strollers and wheelchair users can follow the trail through woodlands, a beautiful Conifer Garden, picnic spots and recreation areas.
The Transylvania County Extension Service Master Gardeners maintain demonstration gardens behind the mansion: a vegetable and herb Learning Garden; a Woodland Garden, focused on native plants appropriate for local landscapes; and a Pollinator Garden full of blooms, bees and butterflies. You often can find Master Gardeners in the gardens to answer questions.
Repairs to the mansion have been under way since 2013. The front porch and columns have been redone and painted. New window shutters, flooring and painting on the first floor have all been completed recently thanks to the Friends of Silvermont’s fundraising efforts.
Current park improvements have included a wheel chair swing and fresh coats of paint on the old dolphin and turtle that children love to play on. Future park improvements can be found in the Silvermont Master Plan. For more information on Silvermont and the ongoing plans, visit www.countyrec.org or call (828) 884-3166.