Big Ivy Community Center
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Big Ivy, more commonly know as Barnardsville, nestles beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northernmost corner of Buncombe County. It spreads across mountains, creeks and valleys. The heritage of its people crosses many states and even countries. In time past, much of the area belongede to individual families; however, as society became more mobile, so did Big Ivy. Today, a diverse population fills the region.
Our Community Center is at the heart of the area. Located on Dillingham Road, it provides many needed services for all the residents. Recreational opportunities abound… basketball and volleyball courts, swimming pool, playground, picnic area, walking trail and baseball fields. A thrift store, our “Little White House”, utilzes the only original building. Our resource center offers childcare both full day and after school. It houses a medical clinic weekly as well as a Food pantry, Coat Closet, rooms for GED classes and various club meetings. A fully equipped commerical kitchen is an asset to the large multi-purpose room.
The grounds have not always been a community center. The twenty two acres were orginally the site of the Civilian Conservation Corps compound (CCC) started in the 1930s by President Roosevelt to help end the great depression and put America back to work. Young men from all walks of life needed jobs and came to our valley to work in the forests and to build roads, particularly those of the Blue Ridge Parkway. When this program was abolished, the grounds and facilities were vacated and not used for years. The future farmers of America, an organization for high school students interested in the future of farming, reconnized its potential and purchased it for a camp. Boys from all over North Carolina came here to enjoy and experience life in the mounatains. A large receration building and swimming pool were added to enhance the camping experience;however, over time, the buildings began to deteriorate and need much repair so again the property was put up for sale. Buncombe County became the owner.
Several of the community residents began to generate dreams and ideas so they went to the county commissioners and proposed to use the land as a community center. It was agreed upon and the land was leased for $1 per year. From this, in 1973, The Big Ivy Community Development Club was Officially organized and became the care taker of the property.
Big Ivy residents had a place to gather for its many happenings until… during a dark night of 1977, the sound of sirens and the smell of smoke awaken the folks living near by. The large recreation hall was engulfed in Flames and under total destruction. Spirits were dampened but Big Ivy marched forward. Other buildings were safety hazards and had to be torn down. Only the little ‘white house” remained. ( This house was originally the group leader or captain’s quarters.)
Temporary arrangements had to be made. The Fire Department generously offered their space and meetings were held until renovations and improvements could be made to the remaining house.
After moving back home, a picnic shed and concession stand were added to better facilitate community happenings and events. The annual Ramp festival proved to be a source of enjoyment as well as a productive fundraiser . People came from miles around to enjoy the food and fellowship.
Ideas continued to flow and the need for a bigger and better building came evident. A local architect was contacted and plans for a new facility were “put on paper”. With approval in Raleigh, the officers began to contact the local officials. Needless to say, disappointment reigned when the idea was tabled by the commissioners. None the less, Big Ivy’s citizens continued their work and refused to have their efforts eradicated.
Several years later, the plans again to another resident architect. He gave the assurance that the basic plans were good; however, they needed to be updated to meet present requirements. Questions like ” where do we go?” ,, What do we do” could not immediately be answered. Then a ray of sunshine a community commissioners meeting came to Barnardsville. When the question, “What can we do for this area” was asked, the chance for stating our needs flashed, a building for daycare, medical services, larger meeting place….. in short we needed our present Family Resource Center. We had done our homework; we has canvassed the area and asked the question, ” What are the greatest needs”. We had facts and figures as well as a workable plan. The commissioners listed and responded. Today, through generous gifts, grants and the help of the commissioners, the building stands debt-free: however, as with other non-profit organizations, the task of maintaining present programs and adding new ones presents a challenge.
Big Ivy Scrapbook
PO Box 424 540 Dillingham Rd Barnardsville, NC 28709
The Big Ivy Historical Society