The Danville Register (Danville, Virginia) 2 March 1977 Page 5
Swannanoa Once Was Center Of Much Cultural Activity WAYNESBORO ( A P ) - Visitors to the 52-room Italian renaissance palace on a mountaintop near here for years have been seekers of- enlightenment. But one day soon they may be seekers of recreation. It was here that Walter and Lao Russell -- philosophers, artists, scientists and sculp- 'tors- founded the Walter Russell Foundation, later to be known as the Swannanoa University of Philosophy and Science. The Russells found Swan- nanoa after sweeping the country in search of the mountain that Lao saw in a religious vision. Former U n i v e r s i t y of Virginia President Colgate Darden christened the foun- dation in 1949, calling it the "world cultural center for the unification of mankind through greater knowledge of Light (God's message)." The marble palace became a Two Killed In Jet Crash CRESWELL. N.C. (AP) - Two crewmen were killed Tuesday when a Navy jet fighter plane crashed and burned near Lake Phelps in eastern North Carolina, authorities said. The bodies of the pilot and a radar intercept officer were found by searchers. The names were w i t h h e l d p e n d i n g notification of kin. The plane, an F-) Phantom, was assigned to Fighter Squadron 101 at the Oceana Naval Air Station near Nor- folk, Va. A Navy spokesman said it crashed about 11 a.m. The Navy said the plane was on a training mission. The cause of the crash was not known and the spokesman said the Navy had convened an investigation board. Two helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft were flown in frn'm the Coast Guard Air Station at Elizabeth City and a spokesman for First Colony Farms, a huge farming operation in the area, said at least one helicopter reached the crash site. Bill Swart, operations manager for the f a r m headquartered at the little Washington County com- munity of Creswell,.said the plane came down about two miles south of Lake Phelps in an undeveloped area of the farm. "The plane crashed on peat bog land in an area of heavy undergrowth," said Swart. "I saw smoke and got to the scene on a farm road but the plane was across a big canal. I wasn't able to get to It." He said a helicopter landed near the plane wreckage and equipment was being brought in to clear a path through the tight scrub. center of great activity, and through its hails came dignitaries and celebrities such as Norman Vincent and Gloria Swanson. Walter died the day he turned 92 on May 19, 1965, Lao still runs the University Philosophy and Science. She offers a home study course in universal law, natural science and philosophy to a worldwide student body that she says numbers 55,000. The course, which costs $150 plus books, is a religious ap- proach to love, sex, marriage, science and the cosmos. Lao points to the palace's furnishings that include pieces of furniture and sculptures came from an era of wealth Italy -- grand chests with intricate inlaid work and delicate statues. Among them are gothic chairs that Walter made. Despite the appearance of wealth that the palace exudes, when pressed for details Lao admits she bought much of furniture at garage sales around Nelson County and while she was a young in Europe. She lives in the beautiful palace on the beautiful mountain surrounded by beautiful objects and preaches the message of beauty to thousands. But Lao doesn't own the palace, she rents it, and the owners' plans call Its conversion to a luxury resort. .