Acker-Funk Home_Extensive Use of American Chestnut Wood

August 29, 2009

Louis Acker and Allie Funk will host the Carolinas Chapter Orchard Tour and Picnic on November 7, 2009 at their farm in Ashe County near Creston, NC. Their home, which originated as a one room log cabin and which has been added to extensively by previous and current owners, is featured in this album. The house is constructed almost entirely of clear American chestnut, with the exception of some of the logs in the original cabin and the exterior clapboards, which are tulip poplar. The home will be open for viewing by guests attending the Carolinas Chapter Orchard Tour and Picnic.

Louis Acker and Allie Funk’s farm, where the Carolinas Chapter Orchard Tour and Picnic will be held on November 9, 2009, is located in Ashe County near Creston, NC. The 500 acre farm and woodland is situated in a broad valley at the foot of “The Peak,” Ashe County’s highest mountain at 5,100 feet elevation.

Louis and Allie’s home started as a one room log cabin built about 1870 by the Maxwell Family. The house was expanded in different stages over the next 20 years. By about 1890, the house had grown to include the original log cabin room, two stories with five bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a servant’s room above the kitchen, a parlour with a bay window, and an attached spring house and root cellar. Though known to some people as the Maxwell House, local folks know it as the Ballou Place, after the Maxwell’s only daughter, who married a Ballou and lived in the house with her husband in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Luke Maxwell, brother of Calvin Maxwell who built the original home, was bedridden in the room in his very old age in the 1940’s. Louis and Allie’s two sons, when growing up slept in the room seen in the gallery below, were sure there was a ghost present. Another ghost in the house is that of a parrot. The Maxwells had a parrot who lived in the log cabin room of the house for many years. When it finally died, the Maxwells had it stuffed. When the Ballous moved out in the 1940’s they took the stuffed parrot with them. One of their descendents still has the bird.

Characteristics of the Cabin:

A tulip poplar log in the center wall is flanked above and below by darker, chestnut logs. The chinking is new cement put in during a renovation in the 1980’s. The ceiling in the log room is of six to eight inch, hand-planed chestnut.

The stairway banister in the hall is of hand-carved cherry wood. The hallways, bedrooms, and parlour are paneled in tongue and groove, clear chestnut – both walls and ceilings. The chestnut paneling has a red patina from old shellac and age. The flag hanging in the hall was the ensign on a ship Louis Acker’s father commanded in the Pacific in World War II.

The surface of the chestnut wood on the doors, unlike the paneling on the walls, has a peculiar beaded texture, which possibly may be caused by a reaction between the shellac and moisture in the wood.

The wall hanging in the north, upstairs bedroom is a gift artist Martha Tree gave to Allie depicts a dead chestnut stump. Though neither Martha, Allie nor Louis were aware of the American Chestnut Foundation when this gift was made, the art work has added meaning now that Louis and Allie are involved in helping restore the American chestnut tree.

Two large chimneys in the house are made of brick formed on the property. When removing linoleum in the room, Louis and Allie found old newspapers from 1943 beneath the floor covering. Their family read from the papers all about General George Patton’s drive across Sicily.

Wall and ceiling paneling throughout the house is milled, butt jointed, tongue and groove clear chestnut paneling. A large window in the room can be raised for access to a private upstairs porch.

Chestnut paneling covers the ceiling of the “Rose Room”. The rose print wallpaper was put up by former owners who renovated the house. The print is a near perfect match to old paper that had covered the paneling on the walls in the 1930’s or 40’s, enough so that a woman visiting Louis and Allie a few years ago, who had nursed Luke Maxwell in the 1940’s, thought it was the original paper.