The History of Flat Rock comes to life at special collections free movie screening

Press release from Buncombe County 

The chronicles of St. John in the Wilderness Church come to life in a new film showcasing a wealth of stories and history specific to Flat Rock. The archivally rich film includes photos, maps, blueprints, literature, and art from diverse repositories. Buncombe County Special Collections at Pack Memorial Library has contributed a trove of archival photos from its African American and Flat Rock Collections.

The award-winning historical documentary film, To Protect and Preserve: Historic Flat Rock’s Legacy to Keep, will be screened at the Pack Memorial Library. The first hour of the film, Part 1, Flat Rock’s History will be shown on Tuesday, July 18 at 6 p.m. The event is free to the public. Designed to educate and inspire all ages and demographics, the film unveils Flat Rock’s unique and hidden history as a small American village established in the early 1800s in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

A look back

The film begins in the land of the Cherokee, revealing their way of life and attitudes toward stewarding the land, water sources and trading. The story continues with the Early Explorers, First Settlers, Charlestonian Rice Planters, Enslaved and Freedmen, impacting transgenerational descendant lives to this day. The filmmakers of One Life, One Legacy Films made discoveries in the archives of St. John in the Wilderness Church in Flat Rock that led them to uncover transgenerational connections to living descendants that they could bring to the big screen. The filmmakers interviewed historian and author Alexia Helsley, Cherokee Scholar Tom Belt, descendants of the first families, a slave descendant, and preservationists and residents.

Wanda Horne, a 5th generation Black woman, whose parents were the first enslaved couple married in 1855 at St. John in the Wilderness, tells stories of growing up in East Flat Rock with her extended family. Her Aunt Blanche was a pivotal part of their family and was employed by a white family headed by Dr. D.I.C King. King is a descendant of Judge Mitchell King who was a slave owner in Flat Rock, as well as known for giving the land to settle Hendersonville. Dr. King was the physician for all the Williams family and the new generation of their children. His son, Rick, tells of how Blanche was their nanny, their cook, “their everything,” and how she and his mother would build things together. The filmmakers note, “This one story of black and white connections enriches our understanding, serving as the catalyst in connecting families to our universal histories within our community from generation to generation. There are countless hidden stories yet to be uncovered and threaded together to enlighten us all.”

Filmmakers Patricia Bradley and Michelle Mullen wish to encourage others to bring their community’s and family’s important histories to life, which help us understand our past and present stories.

About Historic Flat Rock

Flat Rock is the largest historic district in our state. Historic Flat Rock, Inc. was founded in 1968 as a non-profit volunteer organization of community residents, preservationists and conservationists who protect the Flat Rock Historic District. Its mission is to “Protect and Preserve” houses, churches, woodlands, and open spaces as well as promoting its cultural history through education.

Movie Screening: To Protect and Preserve: Historic Flat Rock’s Legacy to Keep Part 1, Flat Rock’s History

When: Tuesday, July 18 at 6 p.m.

Where: Pack Memorial’s Lord Auditorium, 67 Haywood St., Asheville

This event is free and open to the public.

About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.