About 25 miles from Asheville is the small town of Waynesville. This was another small, mountain town with a lot of character with many historic buildings and some that were very unique. Due to COVID-19 there were not many people around and it was pretty quiet. I am not even sure how many businesses were open as I was not interested in shopping, but more interested in the history and character of the town. Waynesville is located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains and therefore known as the “Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains”. I would have loved to have explored the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but it just wasn’t possible for this trip. I hope I will be able to make it back in the near future.
People originally found their way to Waynesville for a couple of reasons, one was due to doctors at the time prescribing visits to the area for their patients who were suffering from respiratory ailments, the other was the wealthy who came from Charleston and Atlanta by train in the summer to escape “the suffocating heat”. Traveling to Waynesville became easier once the railroad line was completed in the 1880’s. Two trains a day unloaded vactioners at the depot as what is now know as the Frog Level District. From the Frog District visitors would be taken the three blocks to Main Street by horse and buggy.
Waynesville was founded by Robert Love, who was a colonel in the United States army during the Revolutionary War. After the war he, his wife and 10 children relocated from Eastern Tennessee to Haywood County’s Richland Creek area. Love was a weathly man who had inherited a fortune from his mother and he further increased his fortune working as a land speculator, lawyer, justice of the peace, surveyor, state senator and court clerk. In 1809 he donated 17 acres for the town of Waynesville, which was where the courthouse and jail were to be built. During the war Love served under General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, and later named the town after him.
Main Street in Waynesville…..Romanesque Revival style one-story river rock building was built by William H. Lord is one of the most unusual buildings on Main Street. It opened in 1903 as the First National Bank and in 1916 it merged with the Commerical Bank. Today it is the Wildflower Blue Bakery.
The current courthouse was completed in 1932. It is a 3-story ashlar stone veneered rectangular building in the Classical Revival style with a slightly projecting entrance pavilion with a pedimented frontispiece resting on four engaged Doric Order Columns.
Haywood County Historic Courthouse
There are several monuments at the courthouse that are very nice.
Haywood County Veterans Memorial: A granite three sided pylon sits on top of a pentagon shaped granite base with insets on each side with the bronze coat of arms of the five military branches. On top of the pylon sits a bronze pair of hands holding a globe with a eagle perched on top. This monument is in honor of all veterans who served in the armed forces of the United States of America. Dedicated November 11, 1991
Haywood County Korean War Memorial: Three tablets stand vertically atop a wide base. The middle black tablet contrasts with the light gray flanking tablets which features the seal of the US army, the start and end dates of the war, June 25, 1950-July 27, 1953 and a simple outline of North & South Korea. Each flanking tablet bears a list of 13 names.
Memorial Tablet to Revolutionary Soliders – Revolutionary War 1775-1783, dedicated to 10 Revolutionary War soliders buried in Haywood County and erected by the daughters of the American Revolution November 11, 1922.
Haywood County Vietnam Memorial 1960-1975: Listed are the names of those from Haywood County who lost their lives in the war. In front is a cast metal pair of empty combat boots that are often filled with flowers and flags. Dedicated 1990.
1776 Militia Rifleman Statue – Revolutionary War 1775-1783: This statute stands on a rock pedestal and depicts a frontiersman in traditional dress, with a small clutch and powder horn slung across his shoulder and a large buck knife at his waist. In his right hand is a Kentucky flintlock rifle, dedicated July 4, 2019. The Sculptor was Earl Lanning and his story as a sculptor and why he wanted to do this piece is pretty interesting, you can read more about him by clicking on this link:
Frog Level National Historic District
A couple of blocks off main street is the historic distirct called “Frog Level”. It once was the center of town, until the train station stopped operating when rail service was discontinuted in 1949. It fell on hard times and over the last decade the town has been working to revitialize this area.
Waynesville did not see its development boom until the railroad came in 1884. The area of town located along Richland Creek and down the hill from main street is where the tracks were laid and had been basically a swampland with a few buildings here and there. Once the depot was built and the trains started arriving, the area soon became known among the locals as “Frog Level”. The first train depot burned in 1900, but was soon replaced with another depot that remained standing till 1987.
Frog Level businesses were associated with the railroad industry with warehouses and wholesale centers. This area was the first stopping place for tourists arriving in Waynesville, with the livery business there serving to carry visitors up the hill to the various inns and boarding houses. Main street began to develop with most of the retail stores, banks and professional buildings.
Most of the businesses in Frog Level which make up the historic district has changed only minimally over the years with only a handful that added new materials and/or changed of a few storefronts. Overall the area has retained its integrity in terms of architecture, setting and its historical association with the railraod and the commericial development it encouraged.
Here is some history of some of the historic buildings in Frog Level that are still standing:
This building was the Armory/Farmers Federation – A two story brick, flat roof commercial building that was divided into 3 storefront bays. The storefronts on the first floor have been altered with more modern changes. The second story facade is still intact. In the mid to late 1910s the armory was located upstairs. Members of the National Guard practiced their drills here and community dances were also held here. This building was used as the armory until the new building was constructed in 1936. In 1924 an auto repair shop wing was built at the rear of the building, which has now been torn down. The Farmers Federation came to Waynesville in the mid 1930s and moved into the second floor. In 1945, a freezer locker was located in the southwest side of the building, a service offered by the Farmers Federation to store frozen meats, vegetables and fruits. Richland Supply Company that provided farm supplies, operated here in the 1950s.
This building is a two-story commerical style brick with a “Coca-Cola” sign still on the wall. This building first appears on the maps in 1908 as a restaurant, it later housed a fruit stand, and originally had a one-story horse shed at the rear which no longer exists. The building’s longest use was as a cafe in the 1930s and 1940s.
Warehouse 66 was once the J.B. Henry Warehouse/Boyd Wholesale – A one-story brick building with five bays, four which have wide delivery door openings, flat roof. The Henry family built the warehouse prior to 1924. In 1924, the property was sold to R.T. Boyd and J.M. Palmer. The building changed hands several times in th late 1920s to mid 1930s, with different companies leasing the building, including Haywood Supply Companyy from 1925-1927 and a feed and seed store from 1927-1935. By the mid 1930s the property ended up back in the Boyd family. From 1935-1960 the building was in use a Boyd Wholesale, a wholesale grocer that sold feed and general merchandise. A salesman would travel to neighboring areas to take orders, with delivery trucks carrying products within Waynesville and surrounding areas. Today the building is home to the Frog Level Brewing Company, Sheppard’s Bear Den Antiques and Panacea Coffee House & Cafe.
This building was used in 1924 as a retail store, but its not known what types of goods were sold. By 1931 it was part of the feed and building materials warehouse of the adjacent building.
The adjacent building to the left is a tall one-story warehouse building. The building is nine bays wide with a L-shaped attached frame loading dock at the rear with a covered carport. This building first appears on the maps in 1924, as a wholesale grocery with hay storage at the rear. By 1931, the building was being used as a feed and building materials warehouse, known as Hyatt and Company.
This building is a two story brick Romanesque Rivival with two intact storefront bay windows, and double leaf doors. Was a general store (T.N. Massie & Son) as early as 1908. By 1913 there was still a general store in this section and a grocery store in the northern bay. By 1916, Medford Furniture Company occupied this building. Originally there were exterior stairs on the southeast side of the building where boarders lived above the stores. Claude A. Haynes General Store occupied this building in the early 1920s. Waynesville Candy Company has occupied the building since 1925. George Dewey Stoval, Sr. arrived in Waynesville from Cleveland, Georgia around 1921. In the 1930s and 1940s this store was the distribution center for all of the Stoval 5 & 10 cent stores in Western North Carolina and Georgia.
Cherokee Garage built in the 1920s as a car dealership and garage for 35 cars. Building was altered in the 1940’s for Burgin-Clayton Furniture Store.
This two-story brick Romanesque Revival building was built 10 years after the adjacent T.N. Massie & Son building to the southeast in almost identical style. The similar detailing makes the two buildings appear as one structure. This building was constructed around 1913.
Burgin’s Market 1925……a two-story brick commerical building with original pressed tin ceiling.
Shelton House Museum of NC Handicrafts – Waynesville
The Shelton house was constructed for Stephen Jehu Shelton by local woodcrafter, Henry Napoleon Francis. Stephen was a Haywood County Sheriff, fought in the Civil War, and served as the Superintendent of the Methodist School. The construction of the orignal house was started in 1875 and the family was able to move in November 1878. The downstairs addition with a dining room and kitchen was added around 1880. The upstairs was originally two bedrooms that included a gabled dormitory style room over the one story dining room/kitchen addition. In 1905 the house was purchased by Shelton’s son, Will Taylor Shelton. In 1918 Will and his wife Hattie expanded the house to include 4 additional bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and a linen closet/dressing area. They used the addition to open a boarding house which often housed attorneys and judges who traveled to Waynesville, the County Seat for court. At the same time a Carriage house was added with a second floor apartment for the housekeeper and the ground level had a coal bin storage area. Later the Carriage House was turned into a two-car garage. Will also operated a dairy farm after he retired as Superintendent of the San Juan Northern Idaho Agency in Shiprock, New Mexico, where he founded the Shiprock Reservation and School. In 1944 the house was willed to Charles E Ray, Jr. a nephew of Will Shelton. The house was used for community affairs and rented out as a residence. In 1977 the house was purchased by Mary Cornwell and Board of Trustees. Mary founded the museum of North Carolina Handicrafts. In 1979 the Shelton House was put on the National Register of Historic places. The museum houses historic furnishings and decorative items, heritage crafts, argricultural exhibits and item’s of today’s Crafters and Artisans.
The barn is a Pennsylvania Dutch style barn and was part of the Shelton’s working dairy farm in the early 20th century and now includes antique farm tools.
VIETNAM UH-1H “HUEY” HELICOPTOR
From 1965-1973, the Bell UH-1 was the most common utility helicoper used in Vietnam. This particular helicopter is a “slick”, used for troop carring. It was not fixed with external weapons to save weight and is only armed with the M60s used by the door gunners. This Huey located at the Waynesville VFW, Serial #67-17145 came to the VFW with some wear and tear, but was restored in 2013 through a special project involving students from the SOAR academy.
“Old Time Music” Sculpture
These giant metal band members, made of recycled materials are located at the intersection of Main and Miller Street. They represent Waynesville rich musical heritage of string bands, fiddle tunes and ballards played and sung at their street dance and folk festivals.