The Undiscovered Jewel

by | Jul 9, 2021 | How-To, Planning

It takes a unique blend of vision, entrepreneurial sprit, and artistry to see a piece of raw, undeveloped land and picture what it could become. Fortunately for folks who are interested in enjoying the splendors of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Sandy Wood and Pete Pyles had all three in spades. This collaboration between Sandy, a real estate developer and builder, and Pete, a log home builder, has resulted in The Olde River Club —a spectacular gated log-friendly community perched high atop one of the prettiest peaks in the Southeast.

Located within a 10-minute drive of both Sparta, North Carolina, and Independence, Virginia, and about an hour away from Boone, North Carolina, The Olde River Club encompasses more than 140 acres along the New River, and all but one of the 20 two-acre plots boasts a view of the water below. The remaining 100 acres are common area, committed to permanent conservation, that Olde River residents can enjoy together. Most of the grounds preserve the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge, while others are manicured to a riverside park-like setting that includes a gazebo, fire pits, and a canoe/kayak launch area.

photo by Roger Wade

If you’re looking to live the high life, you’d better think twice about ownership at The Olde River Club. “This community is about as laid back as you can get,” says Pete Pyles, who not only represents his company, Country Comfort Homes, Inc., in the development, he owns a log home there. “Sparta is trapped in the 50s, which I think is wonderful,” Pete says. “It has that small town, family-oriented feel that’s hard to find in America these days. It has two grocery stores, a drug store, an old-time hardware store, and some mom-and-pop shops, but there’s not a Big Box store for miles around. There’s not even a McDonalds.”

And that suits Pete just fine because loving life at The Olde River Club is about loving nature. The slow, ambling current of the historic New River is ideal for lazy-day rafting, canoeing, and fishing (it’s rumored that some of the best small-mouth bass fishing in the country can be found right here). Hiking and nature walks are two of the favorite pastimes of residents and visitors alike, and there are plenty of trails to keep you occupied.

Even the homes are rooted in nature. Pete’s labeled brand of log home life is centered on the traditional chinked log style—rectangular western hemlock logs with a hand-hewn finish and Douglas fir heavy timber framing. Country Comfort Homes also does timber frame and hybrid structures using Douglas fir. “I prefer these species because the carpenter bees don’t,” Pete explains. Plus, Pete believes the moisture content and structural qualities are optimum to produce a superior log system. “That’s what I’ve learned in my 20 years in the log-home construction business while constantly improving system details,” he continues.

Pete first became smitten with this area five years ago, when he was charged with building Sandy Wood’s home on this very spot. “I saw Sandy’s lot and I became stricken; it was so beautiful,” he says. “I brought my wife, Jackie, here and she felt the same way. It was obvious that we should build a new model and move our business to The Olde River Club. We drove around for three years, 25 years ago, researching log homes before building our first log home. (This was long before the days of the log home magazines and shows) to find the perfect system. And we found it. I believe in research. I think that the longer you look, the better we’ll look to you.”

photo by Roger Wade

Four years ago, he and Sandy partnered to, as Pete puts it, “marry the finest log homes to the finest land.” (If you want to get a firsthand glimpse into exactly what he’s talking about, you can take a peek at the area through Pete’s real-time web cam by logging on to and clicking on the New River Cam.) “I’ve got building in my blood,” says Pete, a third-generation builder who has been a fixture on job sites since he was a boy. For Pete, every home is staked on his reputation and his reputation depends on every home he erects. That’s why you can find him at every job site, working with erector Ben Vaughn and the same reliable crew time and time again. “I’m not a mass producer,” Pete explains. “We’ve built as many as 15 homes in a year, but we usually average six or so. We like to take our time and make sure everything is done right, from planning and designing (which we do in-house) to erecting the structure. And, we look after the owner’s best interests. We make sure that our customers get more than they buy. I think that’s pretty rare these days.”

Life at The Olde River Club may be infused with rustic charm; however, it’s anything but primitive. All the roads are fully paved and maintained and are lined with old-fashioned lantern-style street lamps. Utilities, including fiber optic cables and DSL, are buried below ground, so there are no visible power lines to disrupt your natural 360-degree mountaintop views. And golfers can enjoy membership at the private High Meadows Country Club or access to any number of the public courses that are nearby. Eight of the original 20 lots are currently for sale.

You can find more information about The Olde River Club and Country Comfort Log Homes at and