Modern Architecture in the Tryon Mountains – What’s Old is New

Find modern affordable architecture in small towns near Asheville, such as Tyron – a centuries old mountain haven for artists and writers.  Curated homes by Cielo Real Estate.

In the 1970’s and early 1980s, post-modern artists, architects and punk rock bands democratized art and music by showing the world that anyone with a soup can, a brain and a pencil or a guitar and a garage could make real art.  This is where Tryon comes in.

Santa Monica home (Los Angeles) by Kovac Design Studio, 2015

Santa Monica home (Los Angeles) by Kovac Design Studio, 2015

Tryon home (North Carolina) by  Holland Brady, 1977

Tryon home (North Carolina) by
Holland Brady, 1977

Tyron, North Carolina is a well established haven for people in the arts  Writers, painters, and the wealthy have been coming here for over a century to escape harsh winters, breathe fresh air and hear silence. People from the stratified classes in the Equestrian world came to enjoy horses, riding, eventing, and social gatherings all year long. 

PHOTOS: Wood accents the masses on both simple white pedestal-like foundations.

In 1977, a wealthy member of the Upjohn pharmaceuticals family came to Tryon from Michigan.  He decided to hire a modernist architect to help him create his dream concept house on a remote, and at the time fairly inaccessible, mountaintop.   He hired Holland Brady, famed local architect, to help realize his vision of a modern, natural, peaceful retreat, similar to the Frank Lloyd Wright style homes he was familiar with in the mid-west.  They used natural materials – wood and stone, (plus concrete and metal) taking great pains with the exact placement of the house on the site to maximize mountain views, sunlight, and prevailing winds. With open doors and windows, a light breeze flows through the house to keep down the cost of cooling in warm summers.  A cast iron wood fired stove in the basement radiates heat in the winter.  The layout was efficient, even spartan, but elegant.  

Except for million dollar showplaces, most existing homes in the western North Carolina mountains were typical – suburban rural homes, remote woodsy cabins or working farms.


PHOTOS: Note the custom, hand detailed wood ceilings and floors which effectively contain the interior spaces in contrast to the wide open views.

.These days, the internet and HGTV have turned everyday consumers into discriminating shoppers who are no longer satisfied with simple “housing.”

They want lifestyles of the rich and famous. They want fabulous – heavy on style, and perfection. They want the experience of living in an architectural masterpiece on an everyday budget.  

PHOTOS: Both kitchen zones integrate seamlessly with public spaces.

Top Notch Hill is a rare opportunity to have an architecturally significant home for the price of a typical suburban house.  It was designed,built, and lived in by just one family who meticulously maintained the original architectural integrity of the house.  In its current condition, the house is perfectly up to date and functional. Some cosmetic renovations and a little talent for design, can transform this house into a fabulous and architecturally significant home.

Photos shown of the Kovac House are from the latest edition of on-line architecture blog,  It is a strikingly similar new (multi-million dollar) project in Los Angeles, by LA based-Kovac Design Studio. Note the similarities in the most basic modernist elements.  A few transformational updates could bring this special home in the deep woods mountains of Tryon NC up to par with the most contemporary works of significant urban architecture. 

PHOTOS: Note similarities in bathroom window placement, recessed lighting, bathroom vanities, simple, clean style.


4BR/2.5BA/2GAR on 6 acres offered for sale $450,000. Cielo Real Estate, Tryon NC. See for details. 828-365-8444 or

About Lynne Perlmutter

Lynne practically grew up in Pisgah Forest, even though she was born and raised in Miami. She finally moved to NC full time with her young family so they could know that indescribable feeling you get sitting on a big rock in the middle of a gently rushing river in the deep woods. Little by little she worked her way back to the woods via Charlotte and towards Tryon thru Bright’s Creek in nearby Mill Spring. With Tryon Equestrian Center coming to town, she knew now was the time to start an office. She is Managing Broker of Cielo Real Estate in LOVELY downtown Tryon. Together with the rest of Cielo's founding brokers and agents, she is introducing a fresh, technologically savvy and world class marketing experience to this very beautiful, quiet corner of the world. Lynne was educated at the prestigious Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, Florida. She attended Vanderbilt University, University of Paris, Sorbonne, and graduated with a BA from The University of Florida. She began her career assistant producing TV commercials, then started the Financial Public Relations division of a boutique investment banking firm in Miami. In 1990, she co-founded Miami O Guia, the first glossy full sized up market guide to Miami, written in Portuguese, specifically targeted to the then surging influx of wealthy Brazilian visitors. In 2000, she started her career in real estate as a residential appraiser then as an agent at EWM Realty in Miami. Her family re-located to Charlotte in 2007, and during the market downturn she worked in residential sales, helping investors build rental portfolios. As the market started to recover, she became more interested in second home and vacation home properties in the western NC mountains. This niche market has proven to be a treasure trove of undervalued properties which have yet to recover to pre-bubble prices. Below market values, a temperate climate, dream location, a surge in the number of empty nesters and retires looking to make their next move, and the sudden global recognition from Tryon Equestrian Center, makes Tyron the place to be. Charities: Yeti Robotics, Jazz Arts Initiative, Bruce Irons Camp Fund, Habitat for Humanity - Charlotte, Eagles Nest Foundation, Shake-A-Leg Miami. Experience: Filmworks Miami, WLRN-TV - Miami Miami O-Guia, South Florid Appraisal Services, EWM Realtors - Miami, Helen Adams Realty-Charlotte, NC

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