History and Progress
Oshun Mountain Sanctuary Progress
► The First Year
When OM Sanctuary purchased the Richmond Hill Inn, they received a property that was layered with mystery. The Michel’s received the property out of bankruptcy and eager to find a buyer, gave OM Sanctuary little time to establish as an organization. RiverLink, Inc. stepped in as a fiduciary while the non-profit status application process was underway. In order to uncover the mystery, OM Sanctuary inventoried the facility and grounds and stabilized the bones of the building. The discovery stage also involved several areas of clean-up, most notably of the burned Pearson Mansion. All those working on the project have come to deeply appreciate all the effort that goes into creating a sacred space for our program participants.
With clarity of our priorities and the goals ahead, OM Sanctuary has been busy renovating the guest rooms, researching next steps, and getting to know the vendors, volunteers, and community who have helped us along the way. After months of what we call an in-depth “spring cleaning,” OM Sanctuary hosted an Estate Sale where over 700 people perused and purchased items from the former Richmond Hill Inn. Emptied of the vessels of the past, OM Sanctuary began the process towards crafting the long-awaited vision. In the words of Shelli Stanback, Visionary Executive Director, we began a pursuit to “OM-inize” the property.
OM Sanctuary partnered with innovative environmental organizations to create a facility and preserve that would support sustainability as well as enhance the rest and renewal of program guests. Along with our lead consultants, the OM Sanctuary Core Team is moving forward with integrity through the groundwork stage and into the opening of our rooms with classes and programs for the Asheville community and beyond.
► JANUARY – APRIL 2012
2011 was a year of rolling up our sleeves and focusing on stabilizing the facility, setting goals, researching next steps and getting to know our vendors, volunteers and community. Many of you know our space went through some pretty hard times with the fire, bankruptcy, and a few years of neglect. We are now ready to spring clean, inventory and sell Richmond Hill items that will not fit into the next stages. Below is our quarterly progress report to update you on what we have done and some of our exciting initiatives. (link to come)…
► MAY – AUGUST 2012
OM Sanctuary staff and volunteers enjoyed spending the summer months outdoors clearing out the gardens, participating in sacred ceremonies, and preparing the facilities for guests. The Richmond Hill Inn Estate Sale attracted hundreds of community members eager to take home their piece of history. The countless hours of cleaning, painting, and organizing have brought us to a very exciting moment – we will soon be opening our rooms for overnight stays. Read More…
Property Legacy and History
► Property Legacy
The grand Victorian mansion known as Richmond Hill was built in 1889 as the private residence of ambassador and congressman Richmond Pearson and his wife, Gabrielle. Designed by James G. Hill, it was one of the most elegant and innovative structures of its time. The Preservation Society saved the house from demolition in 1984. Following substantial historical research and a $3 million restoration, the Preservation Society sold the property to Dr. Jake Michel and his wife, Marge Michel.
The Michels reopened the Mansion as an inn in 1989. The family oversaw several development projects on the Inn property. Architect Jim Samsel designed two additions to the Mansion that complemented the Victorian architecture. Nine Croquet Cottages were added in 1990. Each cottage has a front porch overlooking the croquet courtyard. The Garden Pavilion was completed in 1996 with 16 guest rooms, all overlooking the Parterre Garden. Chip Callaway of Greensboro, North Carolina, designed the beautiful English cottage-style gardens that include a mountain brook and waterfall, built in 1994.
In 2005, the inn was sold to the Gray, Sloggatt and Love Families. Four years later, the 120-year-old historic mansion was tragically destroyed by a fire and ownership of the Richmond Hill Inn was returned to Dr. Jake and Mrs. Marge Michel. In August of 2011, Oshun Mountain Sanctuary (OM Sanctuary) purchased the Richmond Hill Inn to transform the property into a holistic education retreat center. OM Sanctuary’s first year has been dedicated to completing the deferred maintenance and revitalizing the facilities and grounds. Moving forward, OM Sanctuary will expand their program offerings and open the rooms for hospitality in Fall 2012.
|1852||Richmond Pearson was born on in Yadkin County, North Carolina|
|1889||Richmond Hill was built|
|1890||Richmond and Gabrielle Pearson host a Fourth of July celebration to promote a land development project on Richmond Hill|
|1895||Pearson served in the United States Congress representing the Ninth North Carolina District|
|1924-1951||Children, Marjorie and Thomas Pearson, open Richmond Hill mansion as a museum|
|1981||The Baptist Home sold the home to the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe Co. for $1|
|1984||Richmond Hill mansion was moved|
|1987||Dr. Jake and Mrs. Marge Michel of Greensboro, NC purchased Richmond Hill|
|1988||The Michels purchased 40 additional acres that were once part of the original estate|
|1989||Richmond Hill Inn opened its doors to guests|
|1990||The Croquet Cottages and court were completed|
|1992||The Inn received the AAA Four Diamond Award for its accommodations|
|1993||Gabrielle’s restaurant received the AAA Four Diamond Award for fine dining|
|1994||The waterfall and mountain brook were completed|
|1996||The Garden Pavilion was completed, adding an additional restaurant, guest rooms, and a gift shop|
|1997||The arbor at the Garden Pavilion was completed, creating an outdoor dining area by the gardens|
|2005||The inn was sold to the Gray, Sloggatt, and Love Families|
|2009||The 120 year old historic mansion was tragically destroyed by a fire|
|2010||Ownership of Richmond Hill Inn was returned to Dr. Jake and Mrs. Marge Michel|
|2011||OM purchases Richmond Hill Inn and RiverLink, Inc. becomes their fiscal sponsor|
|2012||OM Sanctuary continues with deferred maintenance and hosts a variety of community events|
|Fall 2012||Fall classes and overnight programs begin|
Check out this amazing photo, taken from Richmond Hill in 1912. If you would like a copy of this, it can be downloaded here.