These programs are provided free for our members. For the general public, please consider donating $5.00 or more for each program you watch.
All proceeds fund future programming.

WNCHA Lectures: Beacon Blanket Mill                                                                                                                         October 21, 2021         

In this one-hour program (presented here in short form) filmaker Rebecca Williams discusses the Beacon Blanket Mill of Swannanoa, the largest textile manufacturer in WNC in the last half of the twentieth century. Rebecca shared clips from her upcoming documentary Blanket Town: The Rise and Fall of an American Mill Town. These clips are not shown in this recording, but stay tuned to the documentary’s website for its later release!                            

WNCHA Presents: The Marion Mill Massacre in Memory                                                                                        October 14, 2021

In this 1-hour program, Megan Stevens – a Marion native and scholar – discusses the Marion mill strike and the deaths of six workers in 1929. Stevens addresses the concurrent strikes in Elizabethton, Tennessee and Gastonia, North Carolina, and presents a timeline of this deadly event from her MA thesis research. Critically, she notes the sad and often concealed legacy of this event in local memory and offers thoughts on a variety of questions. 

WNCHA Presents: Dr. David Moore on Native American Resistance to the 16th Century Spanish Invasion of Western North Carolina
September 30, 2021

In this 1-hour program, Dr. David Moore, an archaeologist at Warren Wilson University, discusses the Joara Native American Village and Native resistance to the Spanish invasion of WNC in the 1500s. Dr. Moore has been involved with the archaeology of this site near modern Morganton, NC for nearly three decades. He describes the findings of ongoing excavations and places them in context with the culture of the Native peoples who eventually thwarted Spanish colonization attempts in the Appalachian Mountains.

LitCafe: Peter Barr Presents Exploring North Carolina’s Lookout Towers                                                    September 7, 2021

In this 1.5-hour program, Peter Barr – a trails speacialist, hiker, and author – discusses his new book focusing on the history and the hikes to NC fire lookout towers, several of which are still accessible. Built in the early 1900s by private companies and various government agencies, these towers offer stunning views, but also helped manage and protect forests and residents from the ever-present fire danger until the introduction of helicopters and specialized aircraft. Many towers have great historical and personal significance, and Barr recounts many of the stories of individuals who staffed and later helped save some of these cultural resources.

LitCafe: Anne Chesky Smith Presents Murder at Asheville’s Battery Park Hotel                                   
August 24, 2021

In this 1.25-hour program, WNCHA Executive Director Anne Chesky Smith presents her new book, “Murder At Asheville’s Battery Park Hotel: The Search for Helen Clevenger’s Killer.” This 1936 murder of a New York college student made headlines and Anne describes the course of the investigation, the political and racial context of the times, and the ultimate execution of Martin Moore whose guilt was very much in doubt. As a bonus, view the 1995 oral history interview of a former hotel employee who suggested someone else may have committed the crime. Link to Interview

WNCHA Presents: Shiloh, Past and Present                                                                                                         
August 12, 2021

In this special 1.5-hour panel discussion, two Shiloh residents of different generations discuss the community’s history, people, and modern state. Anita White-Carter, a retired librarian, covers Shiloh’s founding as a community of newly freed people after the CIvil War, its relocation during the Vanderbilt era, and the people, schools, and churches which have defined much of the neighborhood’s history. Ria Young, a young filmaker, artist, and activist discusses and screens her short film The Power of Our Village. A special moderator, Jefferson Ellison of the JAWBREAKING creative, leads the two through several engaging questions about their community at the end.

Intro to WNC Lecture Series: Literature and Stereotypes with Dr. Erica A. Locklear                             
July 29, 2021

In this one-hour event, the last in our six-part Intro to WNC Lecture Series, Dr. Erica A. Locklear of UNCA discusses the constructed Appalachian and WNC images transmitted through fictional writing and travel accounts by various authors. She particularly looks at depicitions of food and also pervasive stereotypes generated by authors from the mid-1800s through more recent times.


LitCafe: Jim Buchanan presents Historic Tales of Sylva and Jackson County                                             
July 13, 2021

In this one-hour program, WNCHA board member and Jackson County native Jim Buchanan, presents and discusses his new book of family and local lore. Jim provides a short overview of his reasons for catalgoing these memories, and answers several audience and moderator questions.

Intro to WNC Lecture Series: Sites of Resistance with Ronnie Pepper and Lisa Withers
June 24, 2021

The fifth event in our Intro to WNC series is a 1.5-hour discussion of sites of African American history in WNC. Ronnie Pepper describes the Kingdom of Happy Land where newly-freed people lived and established their own community after the Civil War. Lisa Withers presents findings from her PhD dissertation research into the Green Book, specifically sites in WNC where African Americans in the mid-twentieth century established businesses and networks of communication and activism. Both join us for a Q&A which features several audience questions.

LitCafe: Dale Neal presents Appalachian Book of the Dead
June 8, 2021

In this one-hour event, we are joined by local author and journalist Dale Neal. Dale discusses his latest work the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award nominated novel Appalachian Book of the Dead and reads several selections. He talks about his strong sense of place in his writing and answers a variety of questions about inspirations.

Intro to WNC History Lecture Series: Kieta Osteen-Cochrane on Sanitariums, Tuberculosis, and Tourism
May 27, 2021

The fourth event in our Intro to WNC series, Kieta Osteen Cochrane brings us the story of Asheville’s emergence as a tourism destination centered around tuberculosis and its treatment at several sanitariums in and around Asheville. Specifically, the work of Dr. Karl Von Ruck and the Winyah Sanitarium are examined in greater detail. Also, WNCHA Public Programs Director Trevor Freeman present on the link between the climatic treatment of Tuberculosis here and the push for conservation/preservation of forests and parks and reserves. This hour-long event was pre-recorded, but features a short live Q&A session at the end.

WNCHA 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award Ceremony: Ann Miller Woodford
May 18, 2021

In this one-hour event, we present the multitalented Ann Miller Woodford our annual Outstanding Achievement Award for her activism and achievements illustrating the history of African Americans in far-western North Carolina. Ann is the founder of the 501c3 non-profit One Dozen Who Care, as well as a painter, historian, and singer. Her book, When All God’s Children Get Together is also the basis for a travelling exhibit she helped create with the Mountain Heritage Center, and is on display at the Smith-McDowell House from February-July, 2021.

LitCafe: Mary Othella Burnette presents Lige of the Black Walnut Tree: Growing up Black in Southern Appalachia                                                                                                                                                                    
May 11, 2021  

In this fifth installment of our LitCafe series, Mary Othella Burnette, who grew up in Black Mountain in the 1930s, describes her early life and the writing process behind her 2020 memoir. She speaks to the experiences of various African Americans in her community as well as her path from small mountain town to teaching in California, and recalls her time at Allen High School in Asheville with classmate Nina Simone. 

Intro to WNC History Lecture Series: Rep. John Ager on the Drovers Road and Sherill’s Inn                              April 29, 2021

Our series continues with this one-hour program exploring a historic and scenic area of WNC. Representative John Ager explains the various people who travelled through the Hickory Nut Gap, on foot or by stagecoach, and tells us about the old Sherill’s Inn which he now operates. Topics include tourism, livestock drives, the Civil War, and changes in transportation.

LitCafe: Steve Little and Dr. Richard Starnes on John Ehle’s The Road                                                                       April 13, 2021

LitCafe is a one-hour event where historians and authors discuss western North Carolina books, sometimes their own. In this installment, Dr. Richard Starnes discusses John Ehle, the author, while Steve Little discusses his famous work of historical fiction The Road. Little reads select passages from the work and also explores the truth and the fiction in this important work about the incarcerated laborers who built the WNC Railroad.

Intro to WNC History Lecture Series: Dr. Ben Steere on Cherokee Mounds and Village Sites                         March 25, 2021

In this one-hour program, we are joined by Dr. Ben Steere, a professor of anthropology at Western Carolina University who also directs the Chrokee Studies program. Dr. Steere reveals the loss of and simultaneous resiliency of many Cherokee sites, and describes how mounds are considered living and active parts of Cherokee cosmology and identity. He answers a number of questions at the end.

LitCafe: DuPont Forest: A History with Danny Bernstein                                                                                              March 11, 2021

This one hour program features author and hiker Danny Bernstein who discusses her recent book DuPont Forest: A History. Danny shares the special cultural resources left in this state forest that insprired her to to document the history of the people and place.

Intro to WNC History Lecture Series: Peter Koch on Settlement of WNC and Transportation
February 25, 2021

This 1-hour virtual webinar kicks off our Intro to WNC Lecture Series. Peter Koch of the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University discusses the settlement of WNC by the Cherokee and, later, the Scots-Irish, as well as transportation within the mountains. This provides the framework for many of our subsequent presenters in the series.

LitCafe: When All God’s Children Get Together w Ann Miller Woodford
February 23, 2021

In this 1-hour virtual program, Ann Miller Woodford, a multi-talented painter, author, and historian, discusses her book When All God’s Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina. Her book was the result of 5+ years of research and combines vignettes about numerous individuals with a narrative history of African Americans in the place she grew up and lives. Ann’s event kicked off our LitCafe series for 2021.

Part 3: South Asheville Cemetery, Beginnings and Endings
March 22, 2021

The 24-minute webinar continues the story of the South Asheville cemetery. Located in the Kenilworth neighborhood, the cemetery was originally a place to bury enslaved people. Following the Civil War, the site continued as a burial site for African Americans until the 1940s. This final video in the series gives a broad overview of the site history. It covers stories from the first non-native settlers through the 20th century.

Part 2: South Asheville Cemetery and The Bailey Family
February 23, 2021

This 16-minute webinar by WNCHA Executive Director Anne Chesky Smith is the second of three exploring the connections between the South Asheville Cemetery, Western NC’s oldest public cemetery for African-American burials, and the Smith-McDowell House, Asheville’s oldest extant brick house, built c1840. This video specifically looks at the Bailey family and how to research formerly enslaved people using primary documentation.

Part 1: South Asheville Cemetery and George Avery
January 18, 2021

This 20-minute webinar by WNCHA Executive Director Anne Chesky Smith is the first of three exploring the connections between the South Asheville Cemetery, Western NC’s oldest public cemetery for African-American burials, and the Smith-McDowell House, Asheville’s oldest extant brick house, built c1840. This video specifically looks at the life and final resting place of George Avery, a blacksmith and Union soldier, who had formerly been enslaved by the McDowell family.

Julian Price Documentary, Discussion with Director Erin Derham
January 14, 2021

In this 20-minute presentation, Julian Price documentary director, Erin Derham, discusses making the film about “the late philanthropist’s instrumental efforts in transforming Asheville from a boarded-up urban center to a flourishing destination.”

To find out how to view the documentary, email education at

2020 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award Presentation
December 16, 2020

View this hour-long 2020 award presentation with readings by all the finalists.

Originated by the Louis Lipinsky family and now also supported by Michael Sartisky, PhD, and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Advisory Board, the TWML Award has been presented annually for printed works that focus special attention on Western North Carolina since 1955 when Wilma Dykeman was presented the award for The French Broad. In 2020, Sandra Muse Isaacs won for Eastern Cherokee Stories: A Living Oral Tradition and Its Cultural Continuance.

Guardians of Our Troubled Waters discussion with the filmmaker, David Weintraub
December 3, 2020

In this 30-minute Q&A session, award-winning film director David Weintraub discusses his new film Guardians of Our Troubled Waters. Guardians focuses on three communities — Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, and South Florida, the stewardship efforts that grew to protect the French Broad River, the Pigeon River, and the Everglades, and the lessons learned for today’s world.

For information on how to view the documentary, email education at

Horace Kephart’s Bryson City
November 14, 2020

This 30-minute video features Bryson City landmarks that Horace wrote about during his residence there. Learn about the life and legacy of Horace Kephart as it intersected with the people and environment here in town and around Deep Creek. The talk ends in Bryson City Cemetery, where Kephart is buried overlooking the town, the mountains, and the park he helped to establish.

Asheville’s Monuments: Past, Present, & Future
October 17, 2020

This 1.5-hour virtual symposium focused on monuments and commemoration in Asheville.

Our city, like many others, is currently wrestling with the meanings and fates of many controversial statues and monuments. This symposium aimed facilitate community engagement and dialogue in advance of the Vance Monument Task Force’s anticipated report at the end of October 2020 with their recommendations for the Vance Monument and Pack Square. This program, hosted via Zoom, featured Dr. Steve Nash, Dr. Dwight Mullen, and Dr. Fitzhugh Brundage.

Lit Cafe: Back of Beyond
October 8, 2020

In 2019, Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography, published by Great Smoky Mountains Association and co-written by George Ellison and Janet McCue, won our Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. In this 45-minute presentation the book’s editor, Frances Figart, interviewed the authors about their experience writing this award-winning publication. During the interview, the authors read excerpts from the biography, shared behind-the-scenes details about their research, provided insights into their writing process, and disclosed mysteries of Kephart’s past still to be discovered.

Lit Cafe: The French Broad with Jim Stokely
September 10, 2020

This 1-hour presentation and discussion of Wilma Dykeman’s award-winning 1955 book, “The French Broad,” features her son, Jim Stokely. Wilma Dykeman (1920 – 2006) was a writer, speaker, teacher, historian, and environmentalist. Her son, Jim Stokely, President of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, speaks about his mother and her groundbreaking work.