The claw of the demolition machine chomped through the Pearson House like a metal jaw. With each bite, the historic home revealed itself room by room. A painting still hung in an upstairs room. For those present for the demolition, this would be the last time the “grand lady” would stand on grounds of the Richmond Hill Inn. The demolition happened Wednesday, Feb. 1.
The director of Oshun Mountain Sanctuary Shelli Stanback was present for the demolition. “It’s bittersweet,” Stanback said as part of the home crumbled, adding, “But, with every end comes a beginning, and in a way this had to happen to make way for OM Sanctuary.” OM Sanctuary purchased the historic property for $4.5 million with plans to raise $5 million more before it opens as a wellness-oriented retreat center. The group, in partnership with RiverLink, announced the purchase on Aug. 1. Once the inn gets some maintenance and renovation work completed, there are plans to build a movement center, spa, life-enhancement center and a new welcome center.
Director of the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County Jack Tomson stood and watched with a camera in hand as the grand lady gave way. In March 2009, the Richmond Hill mansion burned to the ground in an arson that remains unsolved. Built in 1889, the mansion overlooked the French Broad River and had once been the home of congressman Richmond Pearson. According to court documents, the loss was valued at $7 million.
Photo gallery from the demolition:
Video from the demolition: