Block Number: 183

McDowell Quilt Trail Ginger Todd SWITZERLAND INN ADDS TWO QUILT BLOCKS ON MCDOWELL TRAIL It was a beautiful summer Thursday morning August 27, 2015, that Gary and Jackie Jensen hosted Blocks #182 and #183 at the Switzerland Inn. Located at 86 High Ridge Road, Little Switzerland, N.C., the Jensens, owners of the family owned and run establishment were presented a Certificate of Authenticity by volunteer Jill Lucas for each block. The Inn is celebrating its 106th birthday this year. The area known as Switzerland Company (now Little Switzerland) was first founded in June 1909 when N.C. State Superior Court Justice Heriot Clarkson guided a group of men up the slopes of Grassy Mountain on their mules. The magnificent views from all directions, ranging from 3,200 to 4,000 feet, so resembled the Swiss Alps that in 1911 Justice Clarkson and his wife opened the original Switzerland Inn. It soon became the number one resort in North Carolina. Years later in the 1960’s the original Inn was torn down and replaced by a more modern one built by William Cessna. Subsequently owned by Bob Schwebke, the Inn was purchased in 1983 by Gary and JoAnne Jensen, who later passed it on to the present owners, their son and his wife in 2000. A third generation has joined the hotel management, the daughter of Gary and Jackie and her husband, Jordan and Nathan Gowan. Little Switzerland is an unincorporated community located in both McDowell and Mitchell Counties. After settlement in a law suit with the Blue Ridge Parkway for right of way authority, the Switzerland Inn is the only commercial access on the Parkway and at Exit 334, the narrowest point on the Parkway in N.C. Located north of Marion and south of Spruce Pine, the Inn is also accessible from Highway 226A. The Inn has 71 rooms, several cottages (including a special honeymoon cottage) and suites available, one of which is rumored to be haunted! The Inn has every amenity possible including tennis courts and many more outside activities. The Chalet Restaurant is open to the public seven days a week during the Inn’s season, the second week of April through November 29th. The small village also consists of several Swiss themed shops featuring local merchandise, an art gallery and ice cream shop. The rooms have all been renovated during the last ten years, however the main lobby still maintains the wormy chestnut furniture, various antiques and some original Woody’s Chair furniture. Of interest is the nearby Episcopal Church of Resurrection, built in 1912 and added to the National Registry of Historic places in 1999, as well as multiple attractions throughout western North Carolina easily accessible from the Inn. Block #182 entitled “Alpine Meadow” is four by four feet and provides a pleasant, fresh entrance to the Inn’s Spa, which is tucked away off in a quiet area of the complex. There are two massage treatment rooms and one couples’ area with three massage therapists employed. The block displays the National flower of Switzerland, the Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum, belonging to the daisy/sunflower family). The background consists of angular mountain peaks with a river flowing through the valley. The Edelweiss, a white mountain flower, grows in the high Alps of the country and is a symbol of noble rugged beauty and purity, often associated with the feature song in the Sound of Music production. Block #183, “Recline-Relax-Restore”, a larger six feet by six feet block, is located on the front of the Fowl Play Pub adjacent to the main lobby building of the hotel and is easily seen when entering the premises. The name of the block invites guests for a leisurely, delightful and enchanting visit to the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. The quilt block is a scene of the Swiss flag and a chalet type building near a lake. A scenic sunset background lights up the west behind rounded snow-capped mountains. The Swiss flag consists of a white cross in the center of a red background and was introduced as the official national flag in December 1889 although it dates back to medieval times. It traditionally stands for freedom, honor and fidelity and is associated with neutrality, democracy, peace and refuge. Both blocks were installed by volunteers Mike Lucas, Jack Raker and Alan Scholl. The McDowell Quilt Trail is a nonprofit organization comprised of a committee of volunteers under the direction of the McDowell Arts Council Association. The blocks and their stories preserve our mountain heritage and may be viewed by visiting . For information on obtaining a block contact Mike Lucas at 828-443-6476.

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