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Upcoming Events

Join us virtually and in-person for exciting educational events exploring the history of Western North Carolina.

OUR PROGRAMS

Museum

Our museum is temporarily closed for interior renovations. Please visit our virtual exhibits by clicking here.

Exhibits

Visit our virtual exhibits, 1918 vs. 2020, Hillbillyland, Deep Dive into Archives, and Douglas Ellington. Check back regularly as we make more content available digitally.

Special Events

We offer a variety of events throughout the year. Join us for LitCafe, History Hour, Outdoor Experiences, our Intro to WNC History Lecture Series, and more!

Awards

We have annually presented the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary and Outstanding Achievement awards since 1955.

Youth Programs

Area educators can check out one of our many traveling trunks or bring their students to our museum for guided tours and lessons.

Collections

Our archival and object collections rotate on and off display in our period rooms and changing exhibits.

Who was the dead swindler on a pedestal in an Asheville funeral home?

On Friday, Oct. 28, 1904, an Englishman “of refinement and culture” died in a boarding house on Montford Avenue in Asheville. His death certificate, noting a death date of Nov. 10, 1902, was not completed until May 18, 1910. The local health official noted in 1910...

WNC History: The Revolutionary journeys of 2 young WNC women

The Glades as it appeared c1950 after many additions. The section on the left is the original home.   “Disguised as an old woman, and riding horseback, she went from her home … near the Catawba River (in North Carolina) to the Fort at Ninety-Six, South Carolina....

WNC History: Story behind the accused murderer in 1936 Battery Park Hotel homicide

“I don’t know whether my brother Tom will get here tomorrow for my body or not. Tonight’s his night off,” 22-year-old Martin Moore, a tall and lanky Black man, mumbled to the cadre of reporters stationed outside the bars of his cell in Raleigh’s Central Prison. It was...

WNC History: Story behind the WWII detainee camps at Grove Park Inn, Montreat Assembly Inn

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1942, and the resulting interment of predominantly Japanese American citizens or residents from the West Coast into camps scattered across the California...

WNC History: Bettie Sims was not a typical moonshiner

“I didn’t set fire to the jail,” Bettie Sims calmly told a representative from The Charlotte Observer on Dec. 11, 1906. The reporter had tracked down the 29-year-old Polk County native the day before she was to appear on bond in front of a federal judge on charges of,...

WNC History: Rumbling Bald was rumbling in 1874

The mountains of Western North Carolina occasionally experience earthquakes and seismic activity. These instances often pass without much notice or damage. In 1874, however, the mountains at the eastern edge of the Hickory Nut Gorge — along the northern arm of modern...

WNC History: A trek of self-liberation from Asheville to Tennessee

On Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, 1819, Bob, a 14-year-old “familiar artful fellow … (with) a good countenance” liberated himself from his captor, James Smith, in Asheville. He traveled north along the Buncombe Turnpike toward Paint Mountain and into Tennessee. Bob took...

WNC History: Incarcerated laborers on railroad attempted freedom

“A female convict on the (Western North Carolina Railroad), emptied a phial of sulphuric acid into the coffee of Mr. Griffin, the newly appointed Steward, but he did not like the taste, so the poison did no damage,” reads a blurb in the Sunday, April 15, 1877, edition...

August 8, 1913: Chestnut Blight

On this day in WNC history: On August 8, 1913, the Jackson County Journal reported the dangerous “Chestnut tree bark disease” destroying timber in the Northeast and threatening the forests of southern Appalachia. With a recently discovered case in Guilford County, NC,...

July 30, 1943: Road to Nowhere

On this day in WNC history: During a period of immense change and wartime sacrifices, a promise was made to residents of Swain County in 1943 to build a road around the new Fontana Lake. The federal commitment ultimately ended with much lingering consternation and a...

July 13, 1962: New Asheville Speedway Opens

On this day in WNC history: Engines roared and an estimated 5,000 fans cheered drivers as NASCAR first visited the “New” Asheville Speedway on this evening in 1962. By this point, racing fever had swept across many parts of the country. We have previously detailed...

July 10, 1915: George Masa Arrives in WNC

On this day in WNC history: Travelling overland by train from San Francisco to St. Louis, and ultimately to Asheville, Masahara Izuka arrived in WNC for the first time on this day in 1915. We typically know him better by his adopted name – George Masa. Masa was a...

June 6, 1991: The Last of the Mohicans Began Filming

On this day in WNC history: Western North Carolina has served as a film location for numerous movies large and small. But perhaps no production has shown its range of scenery and famous landmarks to the degree of The Last of the Mohicans, which began filming on this...

June 6, 2006: Marion Livermush Festival

On this day in WNC history: In 2006, a new festival opened in Marion celebrating a food with much older roots in the Piedmont and foothills of North Carolina. Livermush is a food that some love, and some may find gross from the name alone. Similar to scrapple—which is...

April 30, 1988: MerleFest Began

On this day in WNC history: One of the most popular music festivals in WNC, honoring one of its most beloved musicians, began on this day in 1988. The Merle Watson Memorial Festival, now known as MerleFest, has been held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in...

April 19, 1784: Morganton, first town in WNC, chartered

On this day in WNC history: At a 1784 meeting of the NC General Assembly, representatives chartered the first town in western North Carolina: Morganton. Their actions created a judicial and political center and acknowledged the growing influx of settlers into and over...

April 17, 1985: Cherokee Beloved Woman, Lula Owl Gloyne, Dies

On this day in WNC history: Lula Owl Gloyne, a Cherokee Beloved Woman and a lifelong advocate and public servant of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) passed away in 1985 at age 93. She was the first EBCI registered nurse, a WWI veteran, and a critical...

April 6, 1865 – Battle of Asheville

On this day in WNC history: On April 6, 1865, just three days before Robert E. Lee’s army surrendered at Appomattox, war came to Asheville. This conflict outside the city along the French Broad River ultimately amounted to an hours-long fighting standoff, where Union...