Banner House Museum

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by Anthony Vaarwerk

Banner House Museum: A Historical Gem in Banner Elk

 

Located in the charming town of Banner Elk, North Carolina, Banner House Museum is a must-visit attraction for history buffs and culture enthusiasts. Nestled in the heart of the town’s historic district, the museum is housed in the Banner House, a well-preserved 19th-century landmark that served as the residence of the Banner family, one of the area’s prominent families. The museum vividly portrays the lifestyle, customs, and values of a bygone era, showcasing a rich collection of artifacts and memorabilia that chronicle the town’s rich heritage. In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating story of Banner House Museum, exploring its history, significance, and attractions for visitors of all ages.

 

Banner House Museum in Banner Elk North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains

 

History of the Banner House Museum

Built-in 1865, Banner House is a unique example of a vernacular Gothic Revival style of architecture, popular in the post-Civil War era. The house was initially constructed by Samuel Henry Banner, a businessman, and philanthropist, who was instrumental in developing the town's economy and infrastructure. Samuel Banner, born in Virginia in 1829, moved to Banner Elk in 1848, where he acquired vast acres of land and established a successful mercantile business.

In 1865, Samuel Banner embarked on the construction of his residence, which became known as Banner Mansion. The architectural design was admired for its distinctive features, including steep gabled roofs, pointed arches, intricate woodwork, and exterior brick chimneys. The mansion was embellished with fine furnishings and decorations, reflecting the affluence and refinement of its owners.

The Banner family lived in the mansion until the early 1900s, after which it was sold to several other families before falling into disrepair. In 1954, a group of civic-minded women formed the Avery County Historical Society and purchased the property with the aim of preserving it as a historical site. In 1955, the house was opened to the public as Banner House Museum, with numerous restoration and renovation projects carried out throughout the years to preserve and enhance the historic integrity of the mansion.

 

What To Expect at Banner House Museum

Banner House Museum is one of the best-preserved examples of Victorian-era architecture in North Carolina, boasting an extensive collection of artifacts, furnishings, and exhibits that offer a glimpse into the past. Upon entry, visitors are greeted by knowledgeable tour guides who provide fascinating insights into the history and significance of the house and its former occupants.

One of the most remarkable features of Banner House Museum is its impressive display of original wallpaper. The house was adorned with an elaborate wallpaper floral pattern in the late 19th century, which was prevalent at the time but has now become exceedingly rare. The wallpaper has been meticulously preserved and can still be seen in its original form in the museum, adding a unique touch of authenticity to the visitor experience.

Another key highlight of the museum is the exhibit of antique clothing and textiles, showcasing various styles of garments, hats, and shoes worn by the Banner family, their guests, and other prominent citizens. The textiles on display are exquisitely crafted and serve as a testimony to the fashion trends and styles of the Victorian era.

In addition to the historic displays, the museum also hosts various events, concerts, and themed exhibitions throughout the year, engaging visitors with an array of cultural and recreational activities.

 

Banner House Museum for Kids and Adults

Banner House Museum is an educational and entertaining attraction for visitors of all ages. For children, the museum offers various interactive exhibits, scavenger hunts, and puzzles to keep them engaged and entertained while learning about the town's rich history.

Adults can enjoy the museum's extensive collection of antique furniture, paintings, and pottery, as well as the impressive displays of vintage clothing and jewelry from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The museum also hosts tours and lectures on various aspects of local history and culture, appealing to the interests of both the casual and the serious historian.

 

When to Visit Banner Elk

Banner Elk is a four-season destination, with each season offering unique experiences and attractions. Spring and summer are the best times to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and fishing, as the weather is mild and pleasant. Fall is the season of peak tourism, as visitors flock to the area to witness the spectacular fall foliage and attend the annual Woolly Worm Festival. Winter is the season for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, with the area's resorts offering world-class facilities and activities.

 

Local Airports Close to Banner Elk

If you are planning a visit to Banner Elk, there are several airports within reasonable driving distance. The closest regional airport is the Ashe County Airport (JDN), located about 35 miles from Banner Elk. The Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) are both approximately 2.5 hours away by car. Once you arrive, rental car companies and shuttle services are available to transport you to your accommodation or other local destinations.

 

In conclusion, Banner House Museum is a historical treasure that offers a window into the past and is a valuable resource for learning about the town and its heritage. With its stunning architecture and an impressive array of artifacts and exhibits, the museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, and the arts. Whether you are a casual tourist or a serious history buff, Banner House Museum is an attraction worth exploring, and we hope this article has provided you with a compelling reason to add it to your travel itinerary.

 

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