The Museum of Ashe County History, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the re-purposing of the historic 1904 Ashe County Courthouse building as a county heritage museum for our citizens, their children, and our many friends who come to visit.
We use the objects, documents, and images we collect to answer the questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? How did we get here? What did we do on the way? We think this will help us find good answers to another question: Where do we go from here?
The Courthouse building is the Museum’s number 1 exhibit.
The Ashe County Courthouse was the county’s architectural jewel when local craftsmen built it over a century ago. Its Beaux Arts style, with classical columns and cupola roof, came from the Charlotte, NC firm of Wheeler & Runge, well known for their public buildings at the turn of the 19th Century. The facade resembles a Greek temple, a sacred edifice to impress people with the majesty of the law and the integrity of government. For most of the Twentieth Century, the important events of people’s lives took place in, or were recorded in, this building.
The physical structure literally grew out of the soil of Ashe County: the foundation is of native stone, the window sills of soapstone mined in the county, the bricks hand-made in Mr. Barker’s brickyard right up the street. The framing timbers and sills were cut on the north slope of Mt. Jefferson and milled by local sawyers.
When Ashe County built a new courthouse in 2001, the old 1904 Courthouse faced an uncertain fate. It had been pieced and patched for as long as anyone could remember, and many thought it was not worth saving. Demolition was not an option for a dedicated group of Ashe County citizens, who joined forces to preserve the building as a museum.
The Ashe County Historical Society, Members of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners, the County Manager, and New River Community Partners worked together to obtain a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Ashe County agreed to provide matching funds. The Museum of Ashe County History, Inc. was created as the entity to restore, maintain and manage the building.
The Museum was happy to list the “Virginia Creeper” railroad, once Ashe County’s link to the outside world, as one of its exhibit priorities, satisfying the D.O.T.’s requirement for a relationship to transportation. In 2006, the D.O.T. provided a supplement to the original grant, and the Museum raised matching funds.
The Museum of Ashe County History welcomes students, visitors, volunteers, and donors. If you would like to tour the Museum, have a program tailored to your classroom curriculum, volunteer for Museum staffing, donate things that relate to Ashe County people and events, or help with funds for the Museum’s operations, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.