ASHEVILLE NC – A-B Tech will usher in the holidays with its second Lighting of the Green Dec.10-22, featuring historic homes on the Asheville campus decorated with energy-efficient lighting.
Community members are invited to ride through campus and view the lights from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly. Fernihurst, an 1870s mansion once the center of social activity for the township of Victoria, will be open to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 16 and 20 for free tours, light refreshments and entertainment. This year’s entertainment will include the A-B Tech Drama Department, the A-B Tech Music Department, storytellers Sharon Gudger and David Novak, vocalist Kadesha Barnard and the A. C. Reynolds High School Madrigal Singers under the direction of Janis Dellinger Bryant. There will be a craft area in the lobby of the Magnolia Building for children to make holiday cards.
Fernihurst was built in 1876 by Colonel John Kerr Connally and his wife Alice Thomas Connally and named after the Kerr ancestral castle in Scotland. The bricks for Fernihurst were made from clay taken from the surrounding acreage. Originally comprised of 12 to 14 rooms, the house was later expanded by the family to 50 rooms, including 29 bedrooms.
The Connallys enjoyed entertaining and would have as many as 500 guests at their parties. Rumor has it that George Vanderbilt attended one of these parties and was so impressed with the views from the house that he asked to purchase the property to build his own house. When the Connallys refused, Vanderbilt purchased all the land on either side of the two rivers. He also purchased land adjacent to the Connally property and built six houses, including five rental properties – the remaining of which is Sunnicrest, which houses the Human Resources Office of A-B Tech.
Fernihurst was restored to its original splendor in 2008 and is now part of A-B Tech’s Brumit Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality. It is used as the venue for fine dining training for student chefs and restaurant managers as well as the site of College functions such as “Lighting of the Green” and the annual fundraising gala “April in Asheville.”