The Mountain Garden Club added a new garden surrounding the Old Highlands Jail on Maple Street in dedication to Wiley Sloan, who passed away in March, for his dedication to helping the community.
“He did so much community service and he should be recognized for it,” said MGC Member Jean Hyde. “Just because someone dies you want their memory to live on. This is a way to keep his memory alive.”
The Old Jail is owned by the Town of Highlands and is leased to the Highlands Historical Society for $1 annually.
MGC donated almost 40 plants for a garden designed by Sonya Carpenter and Canty Worley. Plants include Joe Pye, Cone Flower, Black Eyed Susan, Rozanne Geranium, Hydrangea, Itea, Clethra, Ink Berry, and Sunflower.
“Sonya and Canty were a lot of help with the design and input about native plants,” said MGC President Ellie Houston. “The Town and Highland Historical Society were so excited we were doing this, and they also helped make it happen.”
The Town of Highlands ran water to the property and the Historical Society had the irrigation system installed, said HHS President Obie Oakley. He added that without irrigation, plants were dying off due to the heat reflecting off the building.
“We so appreciate what the MGC has done to improve the appearance of the building,” said HHS President Obie Oakley.
MGC Member Ginny Dunwody said she’s already heard positive feedback from the public.
“We have people stopping and telling us how beautiful it is,” said Dunwody. “I think people are loving it.”
The current Old Jail is the second jail to be put into service in Highlands. The first was burned down by inmates celebrating Christmas in 1915, according to Ran Shaffner’s Heart of the Blue Ridge.
Some of those same inmates were recruited to build the current Old Jail, completed in 1918 and remained in service until 1959.