In 2013, we were contacted by Platt Architecture to bid a locust railing job for Falling Creek Camp located outside of Hendersonville. The intent of the project was to blend the camp’s interior spaces with its gorgeous natural setting using rustic and practical wood elements. Appalachian Designs sourced and installed the locust railings and column supports for the camp’s extraordinary new gymnasium designed by Platt Architecture. Around camp, we also built custom benches, and the stairs and railings for the dining hall and camper recreation area underneath it.
When you think “gymnasium” you don’t usually think open air, or timber frame, or two-story, but that was what Parker Platt of Platt Architecture in Brevard, NC envisioned. Working with owners Yates and Marisa Pharr, he designed a building that instantly felt timeless among other structures that had been part of the camp since it opened in 1968. Taking advantage of the terrain and lakeside location, Platt housed a full court basketball gym, complete with rock fireplace and stage for camp performances over an indoor soccer field. As if the structure itself was not impressive enough, the design also called for black locust trees to be used for column supports and the railing system. That’s where Appalachian Designs came in.
Black Locust Railings
Both levels of the gymnasium include hand peeled black locust logs with custom coped joinery, highlighting the unique character of the black locust species. Not only is this tree unique in its character, but also in its durability—it’s one of the few woods that are rated for an exterior application without being pressure treated.
We began on the lower level in November 2013, working mostly in our shop to custom build each section of locust railing that would go between existing support columns. The upstairs was trickier as each locust column was unique and each section had to be built on site. We even added a custom handicap rail and toilet paper dispenser for the bathroom! Despite a pretty harsh 2013-14 winter in WNC, we were able to finish this project on time.
On to the Dining Hall
Once the gymnasium project was completed, we began another project for the camp: outfitting the newly expanded dining hall deck with similar railing and custom benches. The layout allowed us to build most of the railings in our Fairview, NC workshop and then work with contractor Bill Wilson to complete the two stair systems on site. Below the deck is a wonderful hangout for campers, complete with foosball and ping-pong tables. Here we attached custom benches from locally sawn black locust to provide seating overlooking the lake.
Many thanks to Platt Architecture for recommending us for this project and to Yates and Marisa Pharr for letting us create something special at Falling Creek Camp!