Photographs depicting the gardens and wildlife habitat of Waterside (ca. 1791) on Big Walker Creek in White Gate, Giles County, Virginia.

Waterside is a 38-acre riparian valley homestead and wildlife preserve. One of Virginia’s original mountain-frontier settlements, its historic context and setting were pronounced “exceptionally intact” by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources during 2008.

Waterside is unusual in that two of its structures—the 1913 farmhouse and 1926 mill dam—were built by designers recognized in more than 25 historic register listings and in one National Historic Landmark proposal.

The homestead is located in the Allegheny Range of the Appalachians in the rural, sparsely populated district of White Gate, thirty minutes southwest of Pearisburg. It lies approximately one mile southeast of the Appalachian Trail and one-fourth of a mile east of Walker’s Creek Valley Road (Rt. 42), where its varied terrain—terraces, hills, cliffs, woodlands, wetlands, fields, springs, and a gorge—straddles the Old Mill Dam Road (Rt. 733) and Big Walker Creek. Visible to the north, west, and southeast are the Jefferson National Forest and mountains of Bland, Giles, and Pulaski counties. Elevations span from 1,750 feet above sea level, creekside near the southeastern boundary, to 2,260 feet atop the cliffs overlooking the dam and mill pond.

The property was settled by James Bane, White Gate’s founder and the area’s first permanent European settler.

The historic significance of the events, persons, and structures associated with Waterside has been recognized by local, state, and federal authorities for more than two centuries, as evidenced in the governor’s choice of James Bane as the region’s first justice of the peace; the U.S. postmaster general’s commissioning of a Bane as the area’s first postmaster in 1842; the naming of Banesville (now White Gate) and nearby Bane, Virginia; and the Virginia Department of Highways’ names for Rt. 733—Henry Bane Mill Road and, now, Old Mill Dam Road.

The significance of the Banes and Waterside has also been acknowledged by historical societies—as seen in the drawing of Bane’s Mill Dam in a 1996 Giles County Historical Society publication and in the endorsement of the lineage of Mr. & Mrs. S. Henry Bane by the Order of the First Families of Virginia (FFV)—and by scholars, most recently in a 2007 study of historic Virginia mills and land-use history by six Virginia Tech and U.S.D.A. Forest Service researchers.

Waterside endured a 1913 fire and 1917 flood and required some rebuilding. However, because the early-20th-century farmhouse, outbuildings, and dam were built on nearly the same footprints (sometimes the same foundation) as their predecessors—and because the family has resisted drastic alterations—the property would be largely recognizable today to James Bane and his family, despite the passing of nearly 220 years.

The 1913 farmhouse illustrates some of the best rural building practices of the period in the remote mountains of southwestern Virginia. Previously chosen by the White Gate community to design Walker’s Creek Presbyterian Church (now on the National Register of Historic Places), builder George Lloyd Bane, who is thought to have built the house for and with his brother, S. Henry Bane, combined his knowledge of Late Victorian design with local building traditions, interpreting Queen Anne style influences in a folk house that showcased woodworking materials and services available down the road at Henry Bane’s sawmill.

The early-1800s barn is a specimen of the earliest vernacular building practices and a monument to the Herculean work of the settlers. The rugged, roughly-hewn mortise-and-tenon structure reflects the strength of the settlers and their determination to convert raw materials and dense wilderness into a new home.

Bane’s Mill Dam is the work of renowned architect and engineer W. Earle Andrews (1899-1965). More than 25 listings on historic registers bear his work. The dam is an unusual treasure of rural Virginia: a Modernist structure designed by a leading Modernist designer of well-known American landmarks such as the United Nations headquarters.

Discussion of Waterside’s significance would be incomplete without mention of an important American figure who lived, worked, and grew up on the historic property, legendary jazz producer Creed Taylor (b. 1929), whose exceptional lifetime achievements are a unique American treasure.

A native Virginian, Taylor is the father of Waterside’s owner and the grandson of James Bane’s great-granddaughter. Taylor is credited by historians and musicologists with altering the global landscape of jazz, popular, and international music.

During the mid-to-late-20th century, Taylor served in significant positions at Bethlehem Records, ABC-Paramount, Verve, and A&M, founding two additional labels considered fundamental to the history of jazz: Impulse! and CTI (Creed Taylor Incorporated, which he runs today in New York).

In childhood, Taylor gathered cows from Waterside’s meadows before school, milked them in the barn, weeded vegetable gardens, fished the mill pond, and went swimming near the W. Earle Andrews-designed dam. As a teenager, Taylor’s trumpet-playing reverberated throughout the farmhouse, and he was steeped in the values that would ground him during his early rise to fame. In adulthood, he stabilized mature trees near the farmhouse; planted gardens and trees; laid a pathway from the farmhouse to the mill pond; and planned family reunions and barbeques at Waterside. He would occasionally invite recording artists, among them jazz guitarist Tal Farlow, to visit Waterside.

Taylor’s recordings of some of the world’s greatest composers and musicians—Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Bill Evans, Deodato, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Byrd, George Benson, Chet Baker, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Nina Simone, Grover Washington, Jr., Lalo Schiffrin, and other masters—have garnered critical acclaim and commercial success and are outstanding contributions to the American experience.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, when the majority of the record-buying public was captivated by Elvis, the Beatles, the Supremes, and other popular-music sensations, Taylor distinguished himself among jazz producers by helping his artists, e.g., Wes Montgomery, reach cross-over pop audiences and commercial success as no other jazz producer had. He dramatically widened the audience for improvised music by making it exciting and accessible to the uninitiated.

Working with top engineers of the day, Taylor pioneered the use of innovative sound and recording technologies; he ushered in the jazz vocal group by launching Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, who patterned their improvised vocals on instrumental parts; and he wove international music and rhythms into the tapestry of jazz (e.g., in his seminal world-wide hit, “The Girl from Ipanema,” which brought the bossa nova movement to the U.S. and gave it commercial success).

When “The Girl from Ipanema” won the 1964 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and its album, Getz/Gilberto, won four more Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Getz/Gilberto made Taylor the first person in the history of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to be recognized as the producer of both Record of the Year and Album of the Year. He has thus far been responsible for approximately 20 Grammy Awards, including several inductions into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame.

Waterside is owned by Creed Bane Taylor, VI, and his wife Jeanne-Marie Garon Taylor.

All text and images
Copyright 2010 Creed & Jeanne-Marie Taylor

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