Blue Ridge Parkway | FLAT TOP MANOR HOUSE TOUR (MP 294)

Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A tour of the upper floor of Flat Top Manor (aka Moses Cone Manor House) is typically given from May through the end of October on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. There is no charge for the tour, though you do have to register with a park Ranger. You can sign up on the main floor in the small room occupied by the National Park Service. Here you will find a Blue Ridge Parkway information desk and a small gift store. The rest of the main floor is a giant, high-end craft store run by the Southern Highland Craft Guild. For a tour schedule, see the National Park Service’s official Moses H. Cone Memorial Park web page or the Calendar web page (search Moses Cone House Tour) for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

While you may find Flat Top Manor packed with people, most are there to shop—or at least “window shop,”—and the tours do not fill up that often. I just happened to walk in looking to see what there was to do and the Ranger asked if I wanted to go on a tour, which started in five minutes. Sure. Only I and two other people were on the Ranger-guided tour, and it was a busy Sunday afternoon at the mansion. It’s not like visiting the home of a famous person where the entire point of the visit to the park is to see the house. As mentioned, shopping is the main activity here.

The tour takes around 45 minutes. It’s not the most necessary house tour I’ve been on, but it is informative. The main problem is that the rooms are not furnished, so you are just stepping into empty rooms while a Ranger tells you about the history of the house and about the Cone Family. The reason for the empty rooms is that the furniture did not come with the house, so instead of electing to decorate the rooms with period furniture, the National Park Service decided to leave the place empty. In truth, you could stand out on the front lawn and listen to the talk without missing a whole lot, but the house is nice and getting to see the interior definitely adds to your knowledge of the Cones and of the house.

Upstairs bedroom at Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Upstairs bedroom at Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway

There are some exhibits in the rooms. One of interest, and a subject the guide is sure to discuss, is Moses’s sisters, Claribel and Etta, who by the good graces of their rich brothers were able to lead a life of leisure. In Paris they became friends with Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, relationships that turned them on to art and art collecting. When Claribel died, she left her collection to Etta, and when Etta died she left everything to the Baltimore Museum of Art. She also left money to build a new wing, the Cone Wing.

Information on the Cone Sisters inside Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Information on the Cone Sisters inside Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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Last updated on November 14, 2023
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