September 12, 2019
By Ken Brafman, Image from Ken Brafman collection
When I purchased my 1938 Crestline “forever cabin” in 1994, at the very bottom of the last legal page was the name Charles S. Mann. His name would pop up periodically in the ensuing years and my interest in him grew. As my study of mountain history also grew, I learned that he had been a very successful developer as well as a marketing genius. This week’s image is from an advertising postcard illustrating a typical mountain cabin he built. The card is dated 1935. On the reverse he states that Crestline Village is, “The nearest, most accessible, fastest growing mountain community…over 600 houses built since 1923. Lowest prices. Come to Crestline.” He then lists his name, title and phone number which is Crestline 1. Some housing had already been built in the Skyland area in the early century, and the success of those projects gave Mann the drive to move forward and build a new community. Predating that advertising pitch, Mann purchased 430 acres of dilapidated resort property which was located between his Crestline and Skyland holdings, and within five years he had constructed over 500 well-equipped, comfortable cabins. His vision was to provide homes for people “of moderate means,” further stating, “With the convenience of electricity, and the daily delivery of gas for heating and cooking, it is no longer necessary to feel that a few day’s recreation would be spoiled with camp drudgery.” By the late 1920’s Mann was focusing on developing the business district as well as opening hospitality venues, such as the Rim of the World Inn. The Inn also served as accommodations for prospective buyers. Mann was instrumental in building roads and installing utilities. He built the ROTW Bowl, profiled in last week’s column. He was postmaster starting in 1929. Despite the Great Depression, Mann continued his various projects throughout the 1930’s and played a role in the creation of Lake Gregory.