By Susan M. Thigpen © 1985-2012
Issue: April, 1985
In the early 1970's, progress was taking its toll on the small town of Jefferson, North Carolina by way of the demolition of the old Mountain Inn. In years gone by the Mountain Inn had been the only place in the area with its own electricity supply, and in the days before cars, travelers to Jefferson found rest and shelter at the old Inn.
During the demolition of the old building, a box containing old glass photo negatives was found and in a stroke of luck, they came into the possession of Robert M. (Bob) Rice, who is a master photographer and owner of the Log Cabin Studio in Jefferson. Bob carried the slides to the photography laboratory of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he took advantage of the state of the art equipment available to clean, harden and develop the turn of the century negatives. He managed to process and save around 80 of them.
After showing the finished photographs to hundreds of people, an elderly Ashe County lady recognized herself and family in one of the prints. She recalled that a photographer by the name of Arthur Sharpe came by her home when she was a child, in 1916 or 1917 and took the family portrait.
Since then, it has been learned that Mr. Sharpe was a native of the small community of Creston, North Carolina. The photographs he took have provided an insight into our mountain past and preserved for all time, the faces of rugged mountain strength captured by his lens. His contribution to a time gone by continues to live, thanks to the efforts of Bob Rice who recognized its importance and took the time to save Mr. Sharpe's priceless portraits of a time gone by.
Click on photos to see larger image.