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Principals' Recess


Six years ago, Dr. Breeden Blackwell and his wife Cathy were looking for a new second home. After 20 years of owning a coastal cottage in North Myrtle Beach, they both decided it was time for something different. “When we sold our house in Myrtle we didn’t know where to buy, then a friend told us about Lake Tillery.” Breeden admitted, “We never want to be more than two hours away from Fayetteville.” Tillery’s location seemed to be a deal breaker for the Blackwell family.

Though beauty abounds in the Uhwarrie Mountains where Lake Tillery is located, finding the perfect place to dwell was a hard decision. When it came down to choosing their dream lake home, the Blackwell’s managed to find the right real estate agent to show them around. “This realtor offered something no one else did, a view of the shore,” said Breeden. So, the duo boarded her boat and said “bon voyage” to the riverbanks. From the water, they got a different perspective. “There are really so many beautiful homes and views here.”

Cathy shared, “We looked at houses that were being renovated, fixer-uppers and brand new homes. Nothing really spoke to us.” The Blackwell’s didn’t point to a home and say, “That’s the one.” After searching for three months, they decided to buy a lot in a cove and build. And they weren’t about to construct just any home, but a 4,000 square foot authentic log cabin that took 18 months to complete. When finished, Cathy christened their new abode "Principals' Recess." Both Blackwells’ dedicated years of teaching and service to our schools and are retired elementary school principals.

The Blackwell’s were initially unfamiliar with the logistics of having a lake home compared to beach living. There were matters to think about which were foreign to them such as water depth off the shore. “We got lucky. It’s 14 feet right off here,” Breeden said while laughing on the dock. The Blackwell’s rustic retreat is situated on the banks of the “ski channel” of Lake Tillery, which boasts plenty of river fun. Even though the Blackwell’s think of their lake home as a place to relax, Breeden said, "a lot of the young people boat here with their loud speakers on." Cathy joined in, “We don’t complain about it though. We enjoy it. You know, back when we had our place in Myrtle, we were big shaggers.”

Their spacious home hosts four bedrooms and bathrooms, an enclosed patio, several outdoor spaces and a dock with a boathouse.

When lounging in their great room which features a ceiling and fireplace 40 feet high and a cushy seating area, one word that comes to mind is “comfortable.” That was Breeden and Cathy’s goal when thinking about the fixings and furnishings their home would feature. “We weren’t looking to build a fancy house that no one can live in. We want people to enjoy it and not be afraid to spill something.”

Cathy had help from her good friend Donna Luke when it came to the decor and furniture which were bought at the mega-center FurnitureLand South outside of Greensboro. “We sold everything we had at the beach house and I wanted some lake lookin’ stuff.”

Cathy’s vision became reality from the plush, earth tone furniture all the way down to a grizzly bear themed guest bathroom! Staying true to Fayetteville, all appliances were purchased at Major Appliance from Breeden’s former 9th grade student, Bill Jenkins.

With Fayetteville being two hours away and Charlotte an hour, the family mostly stays in to cook, so the kitchen featuring state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances becomes essential… and so do the four televisions.

Friends who stay at Principals’ Recess find they can relax better there than anywhere. They often inquire to Breeden why there are so many televisions. “Well that’s because I have a teenage granddaughter and a grandson, Allison and Tyler.”

The Blackwell’s are looking forward to spending the next 20 (or more) years at Lake Tillery, bonding with their son, Ryan and his wife Annette along with other members of their family and friends. Fishing, good conversation, relaxing and giving thanks to God are pastimes practiced often at their waterfront getaway. “It’s a family thing up here,” Breeden confirmed. “Sometimes I just look at the ceiling and thank God that we are here.”