signed beam

Dwayne Perkins is pictured with one of the beams to be installed at the new clubhouse at Sugar Ski & Country Club. The building was damaged by fire in December 2016.

SUGAR MOUNTAIN — Merriam-Webster defines “topping off” as the act of ending something in an exciting or impressive fashion. Just so, the Sugar Mountain Ski and Country Club held a “topping off” ceremony on Friday, Feb. 7, to celebrate the placement of the highest beam atop their new Clubhouse construction.

In attendance were the representatives, owners and staff of Sugar Ski and Country Club, along with VPC Builders, IONCON Engineering Firm and several local subcontractors who contributed to getting the building project to this point. As tradition dictates, the beam was signed by those present and was followed by a celebratory lunch catered by Carolina Barbecue.

This new construction is being built to replace the previous structure that was destroyed on Dec. 22, 2016, due to an intense electrical fire. Of note is that this $2 million project is being completed by construction crews who are 95-percent local, mostly from Avery and Watauga counties.

The new facility, being built on the previous site, will offer amenities that will bring the building “into the 21st century” according to General Manager Hope Harvey. In addition to housing the POA and rental offices for the condo association, it will also feature a renovated indoor pool, hot tub and sauna.

New to the building will be a fitness center and an enlarged multi-purpose area, complete with kitchen facilities, for large gatherings. “This will provide much more usable space for owners and guests and less office area,” Harvey added.

Historically the topping-off ceremony has two distinct sources: from the Scandinavians and from the Native American traditions. Somewhere in the 700’s it became a Viking custom to place sheathed grain atop a structure to seek approval from the Norse gods. As the custom spread through European countries, the Germans replaced the grain with an evergreen. Native Americans believed that no structure could be higher than the trees so they topped off higher buildings with an evergreen to appease the forest spirits. Through time it became Americanized by adding the national flag to the opposite end of the beam, highest point on construction.

Both versions of the rite are designed as an introduction of the building to the public and honors the accomplishments of the construction crew. The ceremony intends to symbolize positive things for the future of the facility: good luck for the occupants, continued growth in an environmental setting, celebration of a job well done and pride of the builders in their progress thus far.

Although the census indicates that only about 1.1 percent of the population in North Carolina is Scandinavian, and only 1.2 percent is Native American, the roots of the rite are not as significant as the accomplishment. The topping-off ceremony held at Sugar Mountain Ski & Country Club served as a method to end the first phase of the construction in an impressive way.

Plans for a new building dedication are in the works for later this summer.

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