The History of Bend of Ivy

The visionary’s and founders of Bend of Ivy Lodge were Walker and Doug Silsbee. They restored a Marshall family working farm into a retreat center lodge and campus in 1996. Doug’s work as an author, workshop leader, and leadership coach was part of the energy surrounding Bend of Ivy’s development too. As founder of Presence-Based Coaching, and Presence-Based Leadership Development, his work continues with deep wonderful synergy at Bend of Ivy.

Bend of Ivy was a working farm for many years owned by George and Lucy Green and their six children. They lived here in an old log cabin that was moved and rebuilt here in the 1940’s. Remnants from their stone chimney are in the stone seat bench at the Rockery Pond.

The barn was built in 1950; the concrete block farmhouse in 1954. Tobacco was the financial mainstay, as with most farms in the mountains. There were cows, pigs, chickens, a potato field, a garden where the Pavilion stands now, and tobacco in the bottomland.

There was a corn crib (now the Boathouse) and several other sheds, now gone.

At the confluence of the their creek and the Ivy River, Native American pottery shards, arrowheads and other artifacts were found, indicating a probable Cherokee settlement.

Doug and Walker Silsbee bought the farm in 1996 from George and Lucy’s heirs. Walking the land on the day they closed, they stepped into the old barn and were inspired by visions of what it would become.Over 35 people contributed to a nine-month renovation. The Lodge itself is a symbol for transformation and renewal, and a reminder that in all of us is the possibility of evolving.


After learning of the lodge offering in January 2014, Alan and Susan visited Bend of Ivy mid-February meeting the property and Doug and Walker. After many deep and active conversations and explorations, a new stewardship and friendship was created. The lodge sale was finalized and the stewardship torch was passed in July 2014.