A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina

A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina


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This portable field guide to the historic architecture of western North Carolina covers 1,200 historic buildings in 25 counties in the foothills and mountains. It introduces readers to the region's rich and diverse architectural heritage—from the log farmstead to the opulent mountain retreat, and from ancient earthen mounds of the Cherokee to twentieth-century hydroelectric dams and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Featuring more than 370 photographs and 36 maps, the guide is written for travelers and residents alike. It offers concise entries on notable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities, emphasizing buildings that are visible from the road and indicating sites that are open to the public.

A project of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office of the Division of Archives and History and its western office in Asheville, the book reflects more than twenty-five years of fieldwork and research in the agency's statewide architectural survey and National Register of Historic Places programs. A previous volume covers eastern North Carolina and a future volume will cover the piedmont region.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807847671
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/26/1999
Series: Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts
Edition description: 1
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Catherine Bishir is senior architectural historian and survey coordinator and author of North Carolina Architecture. She is affiliated with the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office.

Michael Southern is research historian and, with Catherine Bishir, coauthor of A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Eastern North Carolina. He is affiliated with the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office and was formerly a preservation specialist with the Western Office of Archives and History in Asheville.

Jennifer Martin is National Register coordinator. She is affiliated with the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office and was formerly a preservation specialist with the Western Office of Archives and History in Asheville.

Table of Contents


The Blue Ridge Parkway
Surry County
Wilkes County
Alexander County
Caldwell County
Burke County
McDowell County
Rutherford County
Polk County
Alleghany County
Ashe County
Watauga County
Avery County
Mitchell County
Yancey County
Madison County
Buncombe County
Henderson County
Transylvania County
Haywood County
Jackson County
Macon County
Swain County
Graham County
Clay County
Cherokee County
Bibliography and Sources of Information
Photography Credits

Historical and Geographical Maps

North Carolina, showing principal regions, cities, and routes
Principal mountain ranges and river basins in western N.C.
Cherokee lands and sites in western N.C.
Collet map of N.C., 1770, showing part of the western region
Principal railroad construction in western N.C. to 1926 and western N.C. railroads as of 1998
Principal hydroelectric power sites in western N.C.
The Blue Ridge Parkway in N.C.

Regional and Site Maps

Western North Carolina
County map groupings


1. Surry
2. Wilkes
3. Alexander, Caldwell
4. Burke, McDowell
5. Rutherford, Polk
6. Alleghany, Ashe
7. Watauga, Avery
8. Mitchell, Yancey
9. Madison
10. Buncombe
11. Henderson Transylvania,
12. Haywood
13. Jackson, Macon
14. Swain, Graham
15. Clay, Cherokee


Mount Airy
Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro
Flat Rock

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This is as informative and as entertaining a guide to the diversity and complexity of western North Carolina's geography, history, culture, and economy as we're ever likely to see. It fully demonstrates that there is no better evidence of the region's richly varied past and socioeconomic range than its architecture. As such, this is a vital contribution to our understanding of and appreciation for North Carolina mountain life, past and present.—John C. Inscoe, author of Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina

The book is a pleasure not only to read but also to use in the field. The authors devote more than eighty pages to an insightful introduction that summarizes the historical development of the western region and that deftly links architectural changes to broader developments such as Indian removal, industrialization, and the rise of the tourism industry.—Journal of Southern History

This architectural guide is thorough, invaluable, and surprising. As a native of western North Carolina and a devotee of its history, I am startled to learn how little I know about places long familiar to me. An indispensable volume for resident and tourist alike, [it] is also great fun simply to read!—Fred Chappell

The three-volume guide to the historic architecture of North Carolina may top the list of guide books. These three books provide what is surely the most comprehensive, historically and culturally informative, and easy-to-use set of guides to any state in the nation.—ARRIS

A stunningly articulate, witty, artful, but dry-eyed introduction to the architecture of western North Carolina. . . . There is no other state, certainly no large state, whose preservation efforts have been so consistently and effectively made available to the public. It is difficult to imagine a North Carolina resident who would not want to own this book (and its companions). Nor would a visitor to this richly diverse state want to plan a trip without immediately reaching for a copy.—North Carolina Historical Review

A prodigious amount of research and interpretation has produced a magnificent heritage cornucopia which meticulously portrays the rich scope and variety of architecture characterizing western North Carolina. For twenty-five western North Carolina counties it threads the architectural pattern from a New Yorker's multimillion dollar mansion designed by a world renowned architect to a lowly tobacco barn erected without blueprint by a local hillsman—and in so doing it provides a historical mother lode of architectural culture which will be eagerly mined by current and next generation researchers.—Harley E. Jolley, Mars Hill College

This guidebook succeeds in allowing people to introduce themselves comfortably to architecture for the pure joy of ornamentation, craftsmanship, and historical association. . . . It is timely not only as a record of where we have been but as a reminder of the range of choices the past has to offer the future. . . . Based on its quality and availability, it could have a greater impact on the appreciation of North Carolina's architecture than any other publication in the last fifty years. . . . Because of its thoughtful organization and excellent presentation, this guidebook is a prototype in establishing an increased level of accessibility for those wishing to explore architecture from a regional perspective.—Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Those who love the mountains, or love history, or want to know more about the kinds of structures that they see every day will want to own A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina—and keep their copies in their cars whenever they travel in Western North Carolina.—D.G. Martin, syndicated columnist

Western North Carolina is blessed with marvelous historic architecture and this wonderful book captures it all. Like its counterpart focusing on eastern North Carolina, it is certain to become an indispensable guide for those who appreciate the best of our past.—Richard Moe, president, National Trust for Historic Preservation

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