Calling locals and visitors — the Inaugural Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend promises to be a fun-filled and educational weekend June 22 – 23, in Waynesville.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend (BRHW) Craft Fair will be held on the grounds of the Shelton Campus — now designated a ‘campus’ — including the Historic Shelton House and its Museum of NC Handicrafts; the HART theatre; and Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market. All are participating in the weekend event.
How the BRHW came aboutIn late 2018, Shelton House was named as the anchor site for the Blue Ridge Craft Trail in Haywood County.
Since the Shelton House board wanted to celebrate the Blue Ridge Craft Trails honor, “a proposal was made to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area to endorse a new weekend celebration,” said Mike McLean, Shelton House vice chairman.
The new celebration, the Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend — with a Saturday craft fair and Appalachian music and dancing on Sunday — became a reality.
“To have been chosen as the first site in Haywood County on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails and, as host to the first Annual Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend, really helps put this beautiful, historic home with all its amazing traditional crafts, on the map,” said Dannehl Strautz, Shelton House Museum director.
A notable lineage The Historic Shelton House, gift shop, barn, museums and grounds encompass 8.5 acres along Pigeon and Shelton streets in Waynesville. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An example of a Charlestonian-style farm house, Shelton House was constructed in 1875, for Stephen Jehu Shelton and Mahala Conley Shelton. Stephen fought in the Civil War and served as Sheriff of Haywood County (1874-80).
Shelton’s second son, William Taylor Shelton, purchased the house in 1905. Will expanded the house and built the barn. Notably, he served as an agricultural instructor for the Cherokee and founded the Shiprock Reservation and School for the Navajo of Ship Rock, New Mexico.
In 1944, Shelton House was willed to Charles E. Ray Jr., Will Shelton’s nephew. In 1977, it was purchased by Mary Cornwell and a board of trustees. Cornwell founded The Museum of NC Handicrafts, which displays historical treasures today.
“Shelton House is one of the few remaining historical homes in Waynesville (and the only one open for tours) that survived the purge of ‘old’ buildings during the past 50 years,” said Strautz. “It stands as an example of middle class farm life in a 19th century agrarian society, filled with handmade crafts made in North Carolina.”
A treasure trove of artifacts
Visitors to the Shelton House will notice the quilt block on the front porch, composed of traditional stars and arrows and the Milkmaid quilt pattern. The stars represent Stephen Shelton’s terms as Haywood County sheriff; the arrowheads represent Will’s years of service to the Native American community; and the Milkmaid pattern is a nod to the dairy farm on the property. It was the first quilt block site on the Haywood County Quilt Trails.
Inside the Shelton House, there are many treasures, depicting life in a by-gone era. The parlor holds a Chickering piano (c. 1843), owned by Susan Felicia Eddins Telford, which was transported out of Georgia before General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” during the Civil War. A 120-year-old Edison phonograph still plays music. And a spinning wheel, owned by Mary Shelton Hooper, shows the heritage of life in the mountains.
The Native American Room showcases the many beautifully-crafted Cherokee and Navajo weavings, pottery and artifacts collected by Will Shelton.
The dining room has china from the Palmer House, the oldest boarding house in Waynesville. And the kitchen table is set with a collection of Jugtown Pottery. Note the kitchen display of irons through the years, showing how ironing was done in a by-gone era.
The upstairs rooms are dedicated to textiles, dolls and woodworking handicrafts.
Venture to the barn, which prospered as a dairy farm in the 1940s. Don’t miss the museum in the lower part of the barn, which houses farm and dairy implements, a recreation of a pioneer village and a collection of trolls, which children enjoy. The rustic barn is well-suited for events.
Newly renovated gift shop The 220-square-foot gift shop is in the carriage house, between the main house and the barn. While it contains some souvenirs, it also showcases fine art, made by 33 local artisans — from metal working to paintings, hand-crafted jewelry, intricate textiles (some wearable) and glass art.
“People may not realize the Shelton House gift shop has so many fine art pieces,” said Miranda Black, assistant museum director and facility coordinator.
There are higher-end gifts, sure to please discerning visitors and locals who appreciate craftsmanship. Featured artists give demos at the gift shop the third Saturday of the month, April – September. Jewelry artist Ilene Kay will give a demo at 10 a.m. June 22 during the BRHW event.
Children welcome, tooThe Shelton House and its barn and grounds are family-friendly. Parents should note that a fun and educational craft series for children, ages 5-12, is held at 10 a.m. the second Saturday of the month in the barn.
BRHW scheduleAll are invited to enjoy the Inaugural Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend at the Shelton Campus. Visitors will be delighted by all there is to see.
“People don’t realize we have so much to offer,” Black said.
“The Shelton House is pleased to host the 1st Annual Blue Ridge Heritage Weekend on the Shelton Campus,” said Sarah Jane League, Shelton House board chair. “This is a wonderful event for the community to learn about crafts, and our heritage of music and history in Western North Carolina, as well as enjoy a HART Theatre presentation and produce from local farmers.”