Outside the town of Spring Lake, on the northeast side of Fort Bragg, visitors to Carvers Creek State Park’s Long Valley Farm access can still get a taste of what was once a rustic winter getaway for one of our country’s most well-to-do families.
James Stillman Rockefeller was born into wealth, the grandson of William Rockefeller and great nephew of John D. Rockefeller, founders of Standard Oil. He graduated from Yale University in 1924 and won a gold medal in rowing at the Paris Olympics later that year.
Rockefeller became a banker in New York City and married Nancy Campbell Sherlock Carnegie, daughter of Andrew Carnegie II.
He would later rise to the positions of president and then chairman of National City Bank, which would later become Citibank.
Rockefeller purchased Long Valley Farm in 1937 and built his 6,000-square-foot winter estate house there in 1938. The property was close to Fort Bragg, where Rockefeller was stationed as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Airborne Command.
Park superintendent Colleen Bowers calls the house “Rockefeller’s hunting cabin in the woods.” He liked to hunt turkey and kept a spotting scope in his office, she said.
By comparison, Rockefeller’s 11-bedroom, Greenwich, Conn., estate known as Rockfields was 19,000 square feet. It sold in 2009 for close to $23 million.
The Rockefeller House at Long Valley Farm has six bedrooms and six bathrooms, including the cook’s quarters. Much of the interior — floor board, paneling and ceiling — is covered in heart pine. The dining room and some of the bedrooms have been painted, but the long, first-floor corridor, living room and Rockefeller’s office have been left natural.
A south-facing, second-floor sleeping porch that is enclosed in glass provides warmth on a chilly winter’s day.
The house is without furnishings, however, the park has books of photographs from the time of the Rockefellers.
The house overlooks the 100-acre millpond built in the 1850s by Daniel McDiarmid, who owned a vast turpentine and lumber plantation. Bowers said the millpond was created to float logs to the nearby sawmill.
The millpond’s dam was breached during a heavy rain storm in September 2016 and has since sat empty of water. Reconstruction of the dam is currently underway with completion projected this summer.
Rockefeller died in 2004 at 102. Upon his death, the 1,420 acres at Long Valley Farm were given to the Nature Conservancy for protection and preservation. The property was then donated to the N.C. Park system in 2010 and opened to the public in Sept. 2013.
Carvers Creek State Park’s master plan calls for renovating the house for use as the park’s visitor center to include educational exhibits and community meeting rooms.
Until that time, the house is only open to visitors through ranger-guided tours, two of which are scheduled for this month.
Long Valley Farms access also has two sand-surface trails open for hiking and biking. The two-mile Rockefeller Loop is good for bird watching as it extends between a meadow once used for livestock grazing and a woodland area of longleaf and loblolly pines and mixed hardwoods. Near the Rockefeller House the trail connects with the .75-mile Cypress Point Loop, which follows the banks of a peninsula that cuts into the millpond.