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Historians take viewers inside Moses Cone’s manor on “Appalachian Perspective”

conemanor1_t.jpgBOONE – Scenic views and well-maintained recreation trails make the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park a popular stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Less known are details about the couple who built its centerpiece – the majestic Flat Top Manor – and operated its 3,600-acre estate.

The latest episode of “Appalachian Perspective,” the cable television program of Appalachian State University, features two historians sharing details of Moses and Bertha Cone and what their summer home was like at its peak years of operation: including deer parks, grazing cattle and sheep, tenant houses for the workers, a school for their children, and 33,000 apples trees. Watch video clip

“Just as George Vanderbilt wanted to showcase the scientific application of forestry at his (Biltmore) estate in Asheville, Moses Cone thought he could do the same thing with apples,” says retired parkway interpreter and Appalachian graduate Phil Noblitt. “So, he cleared the land and planted apple trees. This was not only a showcase of wealth, but a way to show people in the community how to grow apples more profitably.”

Noblitt describes the estate’s social guest list, as well as Bertha Cone’s skills in running the estate for another 40 years after her husband’s death in 1908. Little-known facts, he explains, include Bertha’s contention over the proposed route of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which in 1935 was initially designed to cut between Flat Top Manor and Bass Lake, and her influence over members of Congress to reroute the parkway to land behind her home.

After Bertha Cone’s death, the estate was donated to Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro and later the National Park Service.

Also in the 30-minute interview, history professor Neva Specht discusses Appalachian’s partnership with the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects student and faculty researchers with project needs of the parkway, including historical research of Flat Top Manor and Camp Catawba, soil chemistry testing, and the design of restrooms at Bass Lake.

The university has also received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to offer teacher education workshops using the Blue Ridge Parkway as a case study for how to use historical landmarks to teach U.S. history.

“Appalachian Perspective” is hosted by Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. It airs in Watauga County at the following times: Charter Communication Channel 21 weekdays at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.; Channel 2 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and on MTN’s Channel 18 Thursdays at 5:30, 6:30, 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. and Fridays at 12:30 p.m.

The episode titled “Inside Blowing Rock’s Flat Top Manor” airs through mid-November.

Watch video clips of this and other episodes at