“Montreat” stands for mountain retreat. This mountain cove community, nestled in the Greybeard Mountain and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, was first founded in 1897 by the Mountain Retreat Association (MRA) formed by John Collins, a Congregationalist Minister from Connecticut. In 1907, the Presbyterian Church (USA) gained control of the MRA and Montreat has since hosted many religious conferences, mainly Presbyterian. The town of Montreat was incorporated as a North Carolina township in 1967. Beside the Montreat Conference Center, the town is also known for Montreat College and for having been the home of the famous evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham.
We went to Ashville in 2014 and were so captivated by the mountain vista there that we decided to go back there this Fall. We rented a mountain cottage in Montreat, a 20-minute drive from Ashville, for three nights. Montreat is located right outside the quaint small town of Black Mountain where we would go for dining out and shopping for groceries. There is no commercial development within Montreat. A stone archway at the entrance to the neighborhood serves to deter trucks from entering the area.
Our rented cottage is called Wardlaw Cottage. It is owned by the Wardlaws, a family of four with two grown daughters. They have left their family photos around the cottage for guests to see. David googled them and found out that Mr. Wardlaw is the President of a Presbyterian Seminary in Austin, TX. Mrs. Wardlaw is a psychologist.
James had a lot of fun playing with this old telephone lamp. He made up a character, Bob, who is his imaginary insurance agent. He would “talk” to Bob regularly on this phone about what he wanted Bob to insure while the rest of us laughed at his serious businesslike manner of speaking. According to James, Bob insures everything James asks him to. The chestnuts displayed on the table were gathered by Jacob and James near the stream.
It is built on the side of a hill and surrounded by magnolia and many tall trees covered with English ivy. Right beside it is a roaring stream which separates the cottage from its closest neighbor. Inside, there are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room with a wood-burning fireplace, an all-season entertainment room (where the TV is) and a recently added screened-in porch.
A roaring stream separates Wardlaw from its closest neighbor:
We spent a lot of time in the screened-in porch, mornings and afternoons. The boys ate breakfast and played with their action figures there while David and I read our books in the mornings. We played a board game together there as well. On our last morning in Montreat, I woke up early and sat in the porch by myself to listen to the stream, to work on French grammar exercises, and to watch the sky light up. Such a serene experience!
The only thing we didn’t enjoy about this cottage is that there is no curtain for the many windows surrounding the dinning area. In the daytime, it was absolutely lovely to be able to see the woods all around us. However, we would have liked to draw some curtains at night so as not to feel so exposed to the inky darkness outside.
On this trip, we added Fresh in Black Mountain to our list of favorite restaurants along with Fish Camp in Beaufort, South Carolina, and The Deck in Tybee Island, Georgia. The Italian food there, cooked by a Polish chef, is the best we have ever had in the U.S..
Thank you for reading! We hope everyone is enjoying Fall weather.