Blue Ridge Parkway | FOLK ART CENTER (MP 382)

Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Folk Art Center is one of two craft and folk art stores on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the other being the Parkway Craft Center located at Moses Cone Memorial Park. The majority of the building is occupied by the Southern Highland Craft Guild (SHCG), and it is shopping for arts and crafts that is the main draw to the facility. However, there is also a Blue Ridge Parkway information desk and gift store in the building. A park concessionaire staffs both, and though not park Rangers, I never ran into a concessionaire who couldn’t answer any question I asked. If they’ve been working long enough, they know as much about the Parkway as anyone.

OPERATING HOURS

From January through March, the Folk Art Center is typically open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. For the rest of the year it is open from 9 AM to 6 PM on Mondays through Saturdays, and 9 AM to 5 PM on Sundays. Keep in mind that hours can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to get the latest schedule on the Folk Art Center website.

From March until the end of December, Guild members lead live craft demonstrations in the Folk Art Center lobby. There are also special events planned throughout the year. A list of events is given on the Folk Art Center website.

THE FOLK ART CENTER

The SHCG portion of the building is divided into a number of sections. The bottom level is a giant arts and crafts store, officially called the Allanstand Craft Shop. Here you will find jewelry, handbags, folk art, glassware, clay and wood carvings, and other crafts, all made by Guild members, most of whom are from the Appalachian Mountains area. Allanstand is the oldest continually operated craft store in the United States, first opening in 1897 in Madison County, North Carolina. It was started by Frances Goodrich, a Presbyterian missionary. When the SHCG was formed in 1930, Goodrich donated Allanstand to the Guild. It was moved to downtown Asheville and then to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1980.

Allanstand Craft Shop inside the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Allanstand Craft Shop inside the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Upstairs are two art galleries. The Permanent Collection Gallery is a folk art museum full of historic pieces that are not for sale. The other is a fine art gallery known as Allanstand Interiors where the items are for sale, most costing thousands of dollars. Here you will find one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and other home accessories. All are made by Guild members.

SURROUNDING AREA

Picnic tables are located around the perimeter of the very large parking area, and you can also pick up the Mountains to Sea Trail from here. Scan the woods near the Bus and RV parking section and you’ll see the trailhead. The trail follows the sidewalk and continues on the other side of the Folk Art Center. The MTS is a 1,150-mile trail that stretches from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the North Carolina Outer Banks. It is not part of the National Park system, so I did not hike or review it, but you can get more information on the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail website.


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Last updated on November 15, 2023
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