Traveling Light through the Mountain Town of Weaverville

Weaverville, North Carolina was chartered in 1875 and incorporated in 1909, but by that time it had already existed as a farming community for over a century.

Its natural beauty frequently drew in Methodist campers on retreat, and some of the earliest public buildings functioned as schools, conference centers, and inns.

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I have driven through Weaverville before, but never had time to stop until last month. While doing some work in Marshall I found myself with a few hours to spare, so I was up and out.

My song for this entry is by Matthew Dear:

Driving from Marshall to Weaverville leads through a stunning landscape along the Blue Ridge Mountains and Mount Mitchell, and I had to pull over a few times to take it all in.

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My first stop was at Lake Louise Park, an idyllic setting with a man-made lake and fountains near the southern end of town. The walking path around the lake is less than a mile and leads past an old mill and waterfall.

A friend recommended the Stoney Knob Cafe, an eccentric and visually unique restaurant with pancultural cuisine.

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Decor inside is a cross between ancient Rome and Greece meets Instanbul nightclub, with lots of oddball accents mixed in.

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The server sat me next to a giant mixed media piece of Bettie Page and said I just had to try their Reuben. A+

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After lunch I picked up a to-go cup of kava at Vintage Kava, just a few minutes down the road. The entrance was blocked with a small table to keep people from coming inside due to COVID, but they have tables outside.

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The barista said I looked like the kind of gal that would like their daily special, Black Magic, a rich mix of ginger and other spices that I definitely enjoyed.

Even if I could have sat inside, I had already planned on taking the pretty stone steps out to the backyard and finding a table facing the mountains.

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Next I toured the Vance Birthplace in this part of town called Reems Creek, pronounced locally as “Rims.”

There is a visitor center, gift shop, picnic grounds, as well as the reconstructed home, spring house, slave cabin, and other buildings.

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Zebulon Vance was born at this early 1800s farmstead that his father built, nestled into the mountains. As an adult, he became North Carolina’s Civil War Governor in early 1860s and again during the late 1870s.

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Vance was widely praised for being ahead of his time by making huge strides in infrastructure development and socio-political reforms, but he continuously used his political power to fight against civil rights and the abolition of slavery, and his family still owned slaves so I’m not buying it.

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Depending on the day, you can take guided tours and listen to recordings of  slaves who were kept on the farmstead about life there and how they were treated. Spoiler alert: they were kept as SLAVES so don’t expect any heartwarming stories.

Regardless, the Vance Birthplace historic site is a beautiful location to visit. I enjoy visiting living museums as a valuable resource for learning what life was like centuries ago, understanding the people and their culture, and how it shapes the future of any given place.

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On the way back to the town center a sign for Hamburg Mountain Road caught my attention, as does anything with a German name. I took it back to the town center instead of backtracking, and I am glad that I did.

The entire road has this gorgeous view of monstrous kudzu patches, geometric farmland, and mist rising from the mountains. It loops around the Hamburg Mountain neighborhood between Reems Creek and downtown.

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Weaverville’s tiny town center sits along Main Street between Church Street to the north and Central Avenue to the south. Georgia Avenue and Florida Avenue run west to east, dividing up the three block district.

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Several shops and cafes fill the old brick buildings. Alabama Avenue runs parallel to Main Street and there are some cool places there too.

Many businesses were closed due to COVID concerns when I visited, but that is to be expected lately.

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Weaverville is less than fifteen minutes from Asheville and the two share many attractions, so if you love small-town charm and big city excitement you can have it both ways here.

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Zebulon Artisan Ales had an attractive mix of customers but for the sake of social distancing,  I walked over to Eluvium Brewing Company to have a beer on their nearly empty patio instead.

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Shop Around the Corner shares its name with one of my favourite classic films and has a great selection of local art and decor. I walked around and window-shopped for a while before driving back to Marshall for an appointment.

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In the area for a while? Follow me to Mars Hill and Marshall (in progress). Don’t forget to subscribe!

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