The following article is an updated and rewritten version of an article written in the Hendersonville Times-News in 2003 or 2004.
By Jennie Jones Giles
In 1908 a group of developers began building Osceola Lake in the Valley Hill community.
The lake is fed by Findley, Perry and Tony’s creeks. It is drained by Shepherd Creek. The lake was named for the Seminole Indian chief, Osceola, who waged war against the United States in Florida as a result of the Indian Removal to Oklahoma in 1832.
The developers of the lake had the dam nearly completed by September 1908 and improvements on the surrounding area were taking place, reported the French Broad Hustler, a local newspaper at the time.
By January 1909, “Contractor Henry Jordan, one of the best known builders in this part of the state, has over $52,000 in new contracts on hand now,” the newspaper reported. One of those contracts was for a $25,000 hotel for John L. Orr at Osceola Lake. Investors in the Osceola Lake Co. gave Orr the site for a 60-room hotel overlooking the lake, the newspaper said.
“Thirty rooms are to be completed by next season and 30 by the following year,” the newspaper reported. “The building will cost $25,000, will have 125-feet of 12-foot porch on both sides and will have every modern convenience.”
The water was turned on at the lake on a Tuesday in March 1909.
“It is rapidly covering the acres of ground prepared for it,” the newspaper reported.
The work on the exterior of the hotel was complete and work was starting on the interior.
In April 1909 the plastering at John Orr’s new Lake View Hotel at Osceola Lake was almost complete.
“Orr and Jordan have made arrangements with the town to build a first-class road from Dogan’s Hall to the Brevard tracks, which, when completed, will make the road from Main Street to the lake the best in the county, with easy grades, well graveled and drained, easily traveled by all vehicles,” the newspaper reported. “Over a thousand people, on foot, in carriages and automobiles, visited the lake on Sunday.”
The boats arrived in May 1909: three 18-foot motor boats, seating 12 passengers each, one sailboat and many row boats, the newspaper reported.
In 1914, the lake covered about 12 acres and had a maximum depth of 20 feet, according to the N.C. Gazetteer.
A book published in 1915 by the Southern Railway Co., “Autumn and Winter in the Land-of-the-Sky,” mentioned the lake and resort: “Osceola Lake affords excellent boating and fishing,” the authors wrote.
During the Flood of 1916, the dam collapsed and was washed away. In the early 1920s, the dam and lake were restored, said Frank FitzSimons Jr. in his book “From the Banks of the Oklawaha.”
In 1926, the Osceola Lake Co. was offering lots for sale along the lake, with small cash payments and liberal terms, the Times-News reported.
A summer camp originally built in Laurel Park moved to Osceola Lake in Valley Hill in the 1920s. This camp later moved to South Mills River and became known as Camp Blue Ridge.
Joe Rubin of Florida bought the hotel and property in 1940.
“The first summer he ran it was 1941 and he ran it a total of 19 years until he died,” said his son, Stuart Rubin.
For five years after he purchased the property, Joe Rubin operated the pavilion on the lake. The pavilion is now a home.
“Dad bought adjacent property on the lake and put in a pool at the inn,” his son said. “Over the years he expanded the property.
“I grew up there as a child,” Rubin said. “It was a place for Floridians to come up in the summer and vacation and escape the heat.”
Joe Rubin operated the facility for 19 years until his death. His son ran the property until 2003.
“It was operated similar to a Catskill Mountain operation,” Rubin said. “We served three meals. It was open in the summer and fall. We had a full-time entertainment/social director who planned daily activities and nightly entertainment. We had a clogging team, square dance team, singers, magicians, band and musicians – seven nights of entertainment.”
Joe Rubin began to expand the building in 1950 and his son continued the expansion, adding 60 courtyard rooms and other facilities, such as tennis and shuffleboard courts, a putting green and the new pool.
“We had many dignitaries stay at the inn, the mayor of Miami and several mayors of Miami Beach,” Rubin said. “It was a popular vacation spot.”
The Rubin family spent their summers in Henderson County and winters in Florida. Rubin said approximately 75 percent of the guests were Jewish. Stuart Rubin’s brother Arthur, who for many years owned McFarlan Bake Shop on Main Street, did all the baking for the restaurant.
“We served an American menu and mixed in a lot of ethnic items,” he said.
The Rubins ran the inn for more than 60 years.
Ed Hernando from Miami took over operations of the property in 2003 from Stuart Rubin and re-named the Victorian-era hotel the Copper Crest Inn.
The fading carpet was pulled up to reveal the original wooden floors. The knotty pine walls and ceilings were restored.
The 10 fireplaces in the inn were restored to working order, with the dark hand-carved mantels and woodwork showing the expert craftsmanship of the county’s early builders.
The historic inn, which is four stories high, counting the lobby and the rooms under the roof at the top, has 30 rooms.
“Many of the rooms were built with oak and pine from the property,” Hernando said. “It was cut and molded right on the site.”
A large stone fireplace was added to the entrance of the inn, with brass chandeliers adorning the ceilings.
The turret rooms of the inn include six suites. When the inn was built in the early 1900s, there was one bath on each hallway. Bathrooms were added later.
The French doors from the dining room open onto a restored deck. On each side of the courtyard are two annexes, with an additional 60 rooms.
The courtyard houses a pool and tennis courts; trellises are at each entrance to the pool. Two gazebos overlook the pool and courtyard. A separate building on the property, with a stage, was used by the former owners for shows and dances.
The Copper Crest Inn is now closed.