Buckeye Creek Baptist Church (now the Coexist Cottage) was started in the early 1950's by preacher Charlie Stines. When he wasn't able to preach anymore, Finley Estep started preaching there. The church closed down in the 1980's due to several of the members not wanting to hold up to the churches beliefs. It was a strict Baptist Church who members were not allowed to watch TV, listen to radio, or dance. Parishioners of this old church still reside in the Beech Mountain Community. Once a former Baptist Church, this property has been lovingly restored to a mountain cottage. The cottage coexists within nature and the beautiful mountain landscape. It transports you back to a by-gone time. This former country church will soothe your soul, refresh your senses, and offers a cool eclectic vibe with various decor from local mountain artisans. The cottage is decorated in local Appalachian folk art including quilts, photography, paintings, and pottery. It is conveniently located to many of the High Country attractions, festivals, hiking trails, lakes, rivers and activities. The cottage is situated on 2.5 acres that has an old fashion herb garden, (lemon balm, oregano, lamb's ear, mint, mullein and wild flowers) plenty of wildlife, and wonderful mountain views. Relax on the rear deck and listen to the relaxing sounds from the babbling creek that borders the property. Some of the original features of the former Church includes the Church bell which is still operational! In the backyard, there are His & Her outhouses! And lastly, one original pew remains. Get back to a simpler existence and coexist with an authentic mountain spiritual retreat.
The history of Beech Mountain Community can be traced back to when the Cherokee Indians traveled through the area in search of its many elk, bear, and deer. Historians believe that the area was once a part of the Great Trading Path which stretched all the way from Virginia to Georgia, and which Indians as well as white men used. Arrowheads and other Indian artifacts have been discovered which verify this, along with a tree thought to have been marked by Indians traveling on the path. It is thought that this marked tree helped the first white settlers discover and settle in the Beech Mountain area.
One of the first white settlers of the area is thought to be Samuel Bright, who purchased land along the Great Trading Path and began a small settlement. During the next 100 years the population of this settlement and others steadily increased as new settlers arrived. Many of these were of immigrant stock with English, Scotch-Irish, Welsch, German, and Dutch heritage's who came from the previously settled areas of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the North Carolina Piedmont.
As more and more people moved into the settlements, communities began to form around the churches which the earlier settlers had begun. These churches became the center point of people's lives, serving various functions such as schools, community meeting places, and the center of social life, with families walking back and forth to them with lanterns. Even today, Beech Mountain Community itself consists of five smaller communities -- Mt. Gilead, Fall Creek, Flat Springs, Beech Valley, and Beech Mountain -- all of which formed around churches of the same name which make up their center.
Culture and Traditions
It took a strong person to settle in these mountain communities with their high and rugged terrain, cold winters, and isolation from other populated areas. It was during these first years that the cultural values of the Appalachian people were formed. The traits of personal independence, loyalty to family, and a strong work ethic were developed in response to the often extreme hardships that people in the area faced. Taking care of one's own was a necessary component of Appalachian life if one was to survive.
When looking to build in the area, families looked first for a water supply and then for a spot that was level enough to build. Natural mountain springs were the most common source of fresh water, with pipes hooked up to them so that water was diverted to a reservoir of some kind. Farming was also extremely important because it was mostly subsistence farming, with families raising just enough to make it to the next harvest and with what they raised providing them with all they needed except salt, sugar, and coffee. Pork was a staple food because of its ability to be cured and stored for long periods of time, as well as its variety of uses. Sheep, cows, and chickens were also kept, providing wool, milk, and eggs, and sorghum cane was converted into molasses, which was used in a number of recipes, as well as for a sugar substitute.
Women formed the backbone of these early communities, putting in long hours of work to keep their family going. Food had to be gathered, cooked, and preserved, and apples and cabbages had to be stored in cellars. Clothes had to washed, meals cooked, water carried and heated, and children taken care of. It was a life that required not only a strong body, but also a strong spirit, a need which in part was met by the strong religious beliefs of the mountain people. Death was no stranger to these people, with the number of children and newborns who died from common diseases high. Isolation of the community from the outside world with its corresponding lack of doctors and medical facilities was responsible for the high infant mortality rate which extended into the early 1900's.
By the late 1950's, the Beech Mountain area had grown considerably, largely due to the commercial development on top of Beech. In the late 1960's, Harry and Grover Robbins obtained all of Beech Mountain and some of the surrounding lands by buying land from individual families. Their intent was to build a four-season resort which would attract the "elite" to Beech Mountain where they would build their second homes. The completed resort offered swimming, golf, skiing, nature at its best, and relaxation, attracting buyers from all over the country.