December 1st may have begun as a cold rainy day, but the towns folk and out-of-town visitors were in for a treat as they entered the home built by the Bechtlers in the 1830s. Southern hospitality blended into a German celebration, Western North Carolina style, made for a delightful and nostalgic afternoon enjoyed by more than 200 guests whose signatures graced the registration book on this Saturday afternoon.
One by one, guests moved from room to room, amidst simple but elegantly decorated trees, wreaths and fireplace mantels, totally engrossed in the history behind the exhibits, and the story of the North Carolina Gold Rush. Exhibits included the original Coin Press designed and used by Bechtler, on loan from the American Numismatic Society in New York, the only known Bechtler Rifle in existence and Bechtler's 1840s square grand piano. Children were involved in making 1800s traditional Christmas crafts in the piano room while the Bechtler Gold documentary played in the background. The largest collection of Bechtler coins - The Norman Jenkins Collection was exhibited by Betty Jenkins. Tim Callahan brought his full collection of Bechtler Knives for display. German Christmas music was heard throughout the house but was paused when the live German band, 'Edelweiss 2' began to perform, all to the merriment of smiling visitors. German cookies and refreshments were plentiful as guests interacted with new and old acquaintances.
Christopher Bechtler minted America's first one-dollar gold coin, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. The Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million dollars in gold coins, stimulating commerce in the Southeast leaving a permanent legacy to both Rutherford County and American history.
The Bechtler Heritage Center and the Bechtler Mint Historic Park provide educational material, programs and tours throughout the year. The Bechtler Heritage Center is also headquarters for the North Carolina Gold Trail, a historical destination trail developing in over 30 NC counties. Take an active role in preserving North Carolina's gold history today with your generous donations.
To discuss endowments or any level of giving, please contact Deborah Millikan, Administrator at 828-351-9575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bechtler House Heritage Center is currently open for tours on Fridays from 10am-1pm and Saturdays from 10am-3pm and by appointment Monday through Thursday.