You Are Invited To Attend The Designer Showcase Home In Lake Toxaway.
BY: Kathy Balistreri
Remember the show ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’? It was amazing to see how extravagantly some people lived…and still do. Some very fortunate people have discovered that they can live rather opulently and yet remain hidden from the public’s prying eyes. There is a special, unspoiled place nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina that was once referred to as “the Little Switzerland of America,” that we know as Lake Toxaway.
Five thousand acres of pristine mountain forest surround a sparkling gem: a pure, spring-fed lake with 14 miles of shoreline. Perched at an elevation of 3,010 feet above sea level, this private recreational lake affords a myriad of activities to those who live in Lake Toxaway Estates.
Aside from the country club, with tennis and golf, croquet and a pool and marina, the residents are what makes this such a desirable place to live. No matter how affluent or well known some property owners may be, this is probably the most Inclusive community you will ever find. Some may live in mansions, and their friends down the way may be in a modest cottage, but in the social whirl, they are all equals. Young and old play golf together or tie up on pontoon boats to share cocktails and stories. Fishing and hiking groups share ideas with the Garden club ladies and resident artists-of which there are many. We have had 5-star Generals and Rock stars living here, and that brings wonderful diversity. But all appreciate the paradise we share and have come to dearly love. Generations have been coming here for over 60 years to partake in family traditions that last a lifetime, and to make memories that age like precious heirlooms. You need only to hear the laughter of children out on the lake to be reminded of the bygone days of your childhood.
There is an unspoken magic in the mountain reflections on the peaceful lake…and it can melt away life’s burdens in a minute. You will see sunsets that surround the mountains and splash their colors on the still waters. That can transport you to another world. This is no ordinary mountain hideaway. This is a little slice of heaven on earth. And we get to share it with others who revel in its’ natural beauty. Maybe that is why some of us call it “Summer Camp for Grownups”.
You can be as busy or as laid back as you choose to be in this place. You can sign up for weekly hikes, painting or aerobic classes, croquet lessons, and on and on and on…Or sit in the shade of a big maple tree and read a book as the cool mountain breeze caresses your face. Friday night can be family night when the whole gang can eat dinner and listen to live music until 10 p.m. for just $6.00 a person. The Lake Toxaway Community Center does it every Friday, and some never miss it. That is where the locals and the seasonal folks come together to enjoy dancing and singing with sometimes upwards of 25 musicians on the stage.
The couple who built this magnificent (Showcase) home on the north shore of Lake Toxaway are just two of the many interesting personalities who have come to call this place “home”. Both husband and wife grew up in modest homes and know what it means to work hard and struggle to make ends meet. They have always opened their homes to gather family and friends together. And life in this mountain mansion was no different. Patty cooked to her heart’s content and gave gourmet dinner parties for her many friends and loved ones. Jack drove his red Vespa scooter around the neighborhood as if he was in the streets of Rome!
They both enjoyed playing golf and Patty plays tennis often. And, at the young age of 74, she published her first cookbook of time tested recipes handed down through 4 generations. The cook book will be available for purchase at the Showcase Home. When Jack passed away last year, Patty decided to get a smaller home on the lake over near the country club. She used what furnishings she could in her new home, and gave away or sold the rest. Many of their friends and neighbors in Lake Toxaway were invited to come and “shop” at her spur of the moment household sale. Many of us, myself included, have treasures in our homes now, that we refer to as a “Piece of Patty’s”. Oh, and she has exquisite taste! And, because this “dream” house was a 3 year labor of love for Patty Gomez, it was not easy for her to “strip” the place and leave it empty. People talked about that house the whole time it was being built. They would slow down and drive their boats past the house just gawking at the amazing structure. I remember that Fall when the old house was for sale next door, and the new house was almost complete. I suggested that the Gomez’s throw a Hard Hat party and invite everyone to see the house under contruction. People could not wait for the tour. It was so elegant even though we were walking around on concrete floors and there were no countertops.
They served huge crab claws and Serviche and lobster….it was fabulous! And no one wanted to leave as the evening settled over the mountains and lake and a huge full moon rose in the sky. No matter how traveled one is, this place still takes your breath away. A couple of years ago, Patty and Jack hosted a sit down dinner for 253 people at their home. It was to benefit the Transylvania Hospital. There were huge white tents on the back lawn overlooking the views. The widely known landscape architect, Dabney Peoples of South Carolina, designed the fabulous gardens which look much more mature than they really are. It was a sight to behold; the sun setting behind the mountains, white covered chairs and full tablecloths dotting the lush lawn and hundreds of candles flickering in the dusk. There were multi-colored roses in pretty baskets for centerpieces. In the background was the trickle of a champagne fountain. Live music wafted through the air and across the lake. Elegant? Yes. Crowded? No.
And so, the legacy this house began will be continued under new ownership one day. Residents drive by in their boats and wonder…who will live here next? Will they have children running across the lawn and sun bathing up on the boathouse deck?
I can imagine people sitting on the dock; young and old, fishing for bass. Or watching the children play near the steps going into the lake. For me, just to sit on one of the porches looking out at the boats and the light playing off the water is enough.
This special place begs to be shared. The full outdoor kitchen and dining area is adjacent to a large hot tub with a television built into it. Next to that is a lovely aviary with a fountain which kept Patty’s 20+ birds content and contained. Every year it would take 2 or 3 days to catch them all and put them in cages, to fly home for the winter to Naples, Florida. Yes, Patty and Jack flew home with their birds and little dog on their jet. They love their animals. And so it is fitting that this event should be benefiting the animals. The net proceeds will go toward building the new shelter in Transylvania County. There are only 2 runs in the broken down shelter now. So this project is long overdue. You might say this has become our new “Pet Project” and we hope it will save many animal’s lives.
The designers who are participating in this special Showcase Home are very talented and diverse. They are thrilled to have such an outstanding venue to show off their unique inventory and individual taste and style. Over 15 designers will be under one roof. The rooms flow beautifully because the designers did not need to paint any of the walls which are either plaster with texture, painted wood or stone. The background materials are pleasingly neutral and yet, exquisite in themselves. No expense was spared in the creation of this masterpiece referred to as their “mountain home”.
And so it will be shared. And the many people who had visited this home when the owners lived here will be amazed at how different the interiors will look now. They will tour the house where Patty and Jack lived, and they will see things that they had never seen before, like the hidden passageway to the Children’s Hideaway, and the secret door behind the upper bookcase in the man’s 24 foot high library/office. Then there are the 3 stone fireplaces and 3 hidden televisions. You must see the wine tasting room with the custom mosaic fountains at either end and the replicated wine labels of the most expensive wines ever sold at auction- in bas relief plastered into the walls. Exquisite.
Give yourself 2 hours to see this place inside and out. Buy a signed cookbook and take a “Piece of Patty” home with you. Like this creation she poured her heart into, she is priceless! As for the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? The Gomez home may have been Grand, but when you were their guest, you felt right at Home.
The Lake Toxaway Designer Showcase Home will run from July 6th through the 14th and is open daily from 10:00 to 4:00. Parking is at the open area across from the Lake Toxaway Methodist Church. A Shuttle will transport visitors one-half mile to the Gated Estate. Tickets are being sold in advance for $15 and at the door for $20. They can be used one time, any day of this event and are available at Balistreri Realty, Cashiers Chamber of Commerce, Into the Woods, Cashiers, Yesterday’s Tree in Asheville, and Pure Pets in Brevard. Call 828-883-4848 for more information.
The writer, Kathy Balistreri, is owner of Balistreri Realty in Lake Toxaway/Sapphire. Kathy and her husband built a home on Lake Toxaway 22 years ago. They first came here because they had friends that owned vacation homes here who talked about this place all the time. And so, when curiosity became too strong, they rented a house on the lake for two weeks. Son, Ryan Fitzpatrick was just 9 months old and her daughter Katie was almost 3. They “fell in love” with Lake Toxaway and bought a lot on the lake before they drove back home to Boca Raton. Having been a broker in Florida since the age of 18, Kathy knew immediately, that they HAD to have a place on Lake Toxaway. “It reminded us of Switzerland!” And the cool weather was like being in heaven compared to the hot summer in S. Florida. Kathy is still licensed in Florida and in North Carolina since 2000.“I enjoy what I do and I love this place, so sharing it with others is easy.” She has lived here full time since 1994 and would not want to live anywhere else.Kathy’s family has been successfully active in the real estate business in Florida since 1964.
Thye Gomez property is available at $9,995,000.00 unfurnished. For
more information, call Balistreri Realty at 828-883-4848.