Scroll down to view project

Balsam Mountain Preserve

Sylva, North Carolina

DEVELOPED BY CHAFFIN/LIGHT ASSOCIATES, a recognized leader in sustainable development, Balsam Mountain Preserve is a low-density, private club community in the western North Carolina mountains. This high elevation development has only 354 home sites, an average of one home for every 12 acres. Nearly 70% of the 4,400 acres has been placed in a permanent conservation easement to ensure that it will remain in its present park-like state for generations. Historical Concepts was commissioned to design The Boarding House, consisting of 10 forest cottages and a community clubhouse with dining facilities. Exploring the nearby mountains and inspired by the expansive “Great Camps” that emerged in the early twentieth century in the Adirondacks, the design team re-created the mountain lodge concept at Balsam Mountain Preserve, slightly adapting it to fit the context of the North Carolina mountain vernacular.

THE SITE FOR THE BOARDING HOUSE was chosen for its views and topography. Located at a high elevation and overlooking valleys below, a narrow gravel road traverses a ridge, winding up through a series of cabins to a plateau where the Dining Hall sits at the highest point. From here, the road begins to descend once again, to another grouping of cabins beyond.

The Dining Hall

THE DINING HALL is the shared clubhouse for The Boarding House complex and features a gathering room, a reception desk, bar, library, game room, and dining facilities.

THE INTERIOR makes use of reclaimed materials that frame wide vistas of the surrounding mountains.
In the gathering room and dining room, weather-worn boards line the walls and ceilings, a complement to the rugged, mountain setting.

THE HIGHLIGHT of The Dining Hall is its wraparound porch, encouraging guests to relax in its rocking chairs, enjoy the warmth of an outdoor fireplace, or indulge in fine cuisine amidst the backdrop of the mountain range beyond. Poplar bark shingles wrap the exterior and locally harvested locust logs and branches compose the exposed porch framing and railings.

The Forest Cabins

TEN FOREST CABINS line up along the ridge, each just a short hike from The Dining Hall. The use of local stone, as well as weathered wood and rusty metal roofs reclaimed from the region’s ertswhile barns, cabins, and farmhouses, give these new cabins the appearance of long-standing mountain homesteads.

THE USE OF RECLAIMED MATERIALS continues on the interior, where rough plank floors, heavy timbers, and wood walls wrap the one-room structures.

THE FOREST CABINS are rustic yet still provide the appointments one would expect from a luxury resort. Clawfoot tubs and antique lighting create a vintage feel in the bathrooms, while small morning kitchens provide guests a place to prepare a cup of coffee or an afternoon snack.

WHILE THE BOARDING HOUSE concept fosters community, Balsam Mountain Preserve is also a place for solitude and rejuvenation. Each cabin offers a private rear porch, encouraging quiet enjoyment of the natural environment and ambiance of this luxury mountain resort community.