The months that I’ve spent at Whiteside Villa are among my most cherished memories. As an architect I’ve visited many lovely spots around the world but I can say without reservation that this is a unique opportunity to live in a house that offers real connection; Connection to a very sensuous way of living, to a dramatic and rustic location, and to a fascinating history that has been left intact by the family of the original owners.
It’s apparent that this is a very special place from the moment you arrive!
As you park and approach the house it seems to grow out of the site it occupies. Dense foliage surrounds you and the welcoming and sheltering roof hovers over the entrance that is graced with local stone. Only after entering does the truly magnificent view open up to a sweeping vista- Something that never ceased to make me feel like I was hanging onto the edge of the world every time I came inside. In contrast to most houses that boast mountain views and address it with a wall of glass that only overwhelms, I really appreciated the sense of intimacy and centeredness that springs from the roots of Whiteside Villa as a masterpiece of organic architecture.
Inspired by the principles of Frank Lloyd Wright and executed by a student of the late architect Bruce Goff, the deft handling of scale and high degree of craftsmanship in the natural materials manages to transform it from simply a fine house to the level of fine art. The evidence of a thoughtful and gifted eye are everywhere; the sculpted geometry of the massive central fireplace around which everything is composed; the delicately intricate pattern for the railing of the stair; the continuity of lines in the wormy chestnut paneling that make the interior so harmonious; the dramatic lighting that renders the spaces in a glow of warmth at night; the unique experience of watching ravens soar outside the full glass wall of the tub in the secondary bath; and, perhaps most dramatic, the decadent delight of showering in the double-height stone shower room of the master suite. All of these aspects serve to transport you from the mundane and everyday to a place where every activity should be celebrated. It is difficult to find that quality anywhere, and a true surprise to find in such a remote place as Highlands, North Carolina.
The house actually proved to be a very conducive place to work when I needed to or to retreat to read when that was the agenda. Even better was just being able to walk a short distance to the many trails that allow access to Whiteside Mountain- The house offers a relationship to the mountain that is without equal because the property is directly adjacent to the park lands. Not having to drive to reach it is an incredible amenity and it’s such a treat to walk to the cliffs above the house to watch the setting sun bring a tranquil close to the day. Entertaining afterward on the terrace makes for a very memorable evening and the house is well equipped for even a large group.
In terms of location, the sense of privacy and solitude is coupled with an up-close and unobstructed view of the immense rock face of the mountain. Its profile frames an expanse of surrounding mountains and the piedmont stretching to the horizon. Watching the sunrise strike the vertical wall of the cliffs produces a sense of awe that is profound. While the house is conveniently accessible off of Highway 64 it feels as if it is miles from other civilization. Because of the distance to the nearest neighbors and lush, mature landscape the only sounds that interrupt the quiet are the occasional thunderstorms that put on a show that is amazing to watch. My time in the house has made me realize the power of a place that simply feels “right” while still having a quality that is exotic. I look for it in any property that I’m interested in leasing and, after more disappointments than I care to recall, I can confidently say that it’s very difficult to achieve.
Whiteside Villa delivers an experience that is life-affirming and life-changing.
F. Franks Chicago Charlotte Highlands
Building Whiteside Villa • 1968
Built using native Highlands fieldstone and California redwood, the architecture recalls the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Just below the top of Whiteside Mountain on Wildcat Cliffs (approximately 4850 feet), Whiteside Villa overlooks Horse Cove 2000 feet below, Georgia and South Carolina in the distance. You are on top of the oldest mountain in the world.
The New Year begins at Whiteside Villa • 1969
Heavy snows fell all up and down the East Coast early in 1969, and on the newly completed Whitside Villa. Here is a candid record of that first year atop Whiteside Mountain overlooking Horse Cove, winter into spring. Interesting to see how the landscaping over the years has nestled the house into the natural environment.
Click image to look through a Whiteside Villa Scrapbook ↓