Since 1919, Hanna’s Oriental Rugs & Gifts has been a fixture of Main Street Blowing Rock shopping, supplying visitors with a large selection of oriental rugs, antiques, porcelain and fine linens. George Hanna built the brick building currently standing at 1123 Main Street soon after the 1923 fire that destroyed much of downtown Blowing Rock. The building was the summer home for Hanna’s rug business and also provided an apartment for the family. The current entrance is on the south side of the shop in the stone building that housed the Yonahlossee theater between the years of 1939 and 1979.
Clean mountain air, pure spring water and outdoor activity began drawing tourists to Blowing Rock as early as the mid-1800s. Consequently, by the end of the 19th century Blowing Rock officials were committed to promoting the town as a tourist destination. This endeavor created rapid growth in the town leading to a main street that was a collection of poorly built wooden structures. On October 3, 1923, a fire swept through downtown Blowing Rock destroying a large section of the town. Although the fire devastated the town, as Lena Robbins recalls, “it was also a blessing in disguise.” The fire swept away many eyesores and paved the way for new construction. After the disaster an ordinance banning wood construction on Main Street was immediately put in place and by the spring of 1924 reconstruction of the town was booming. Many new brick buildings, including the one built by George Hanna, were beginning to line Main Street.
Hanna’s operated in Blowing Rock every summer season between the months of June and October. As Thamena Hanna recalls, at the end of October they shuttered the store, packed up the merchandise and moved back to Sarasota FL, returning the following June to supply rugs and gifts to the summer “cottagers” and summer residents. The beautiful homes of these prominent families can still be found around Blowing Rock. The Cone Manor, Chetola and Westglow are just a few of the homes that supported the businesses of downtown.
Another significant business of downtown Blowing Rock was the Yonahlossee Theater. Constructed of Grandfather Mountain granite, the Yonahlossee Theater was built to replace the smaller Carolina Theater which could no longer meet the needs of the growing population of Blowing Rock. The Yonahlossee was a “summer-only” theater and operated as Blowing Rock’s primary movie theater between 1939 and 1979. After the Yonahlossee’s closing the town struggled to agree on the best use for the building. Finally, in 1981, the location was remodeled and divided into retail space. Hanna’s added the North side of the theater to their business while Christmas in Blowing Rock occupies the South side.
On March 10, 2018 during Blowing Rock’s 129th birthday celebration, the Yonahlossee Theater building was presented with one of the town’s historic markers, recognizing the buildings significance to the community. The Blowing Rock Historical Marker Program is a joint project between The Blowing Rock Historical Society (BRHS) and the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM). The mission of the program is to “assist in educating the public about the rich history of Blowing Rock, provide atmosphere to our downtown and add distinction to individual homes, commercial buildings and sites of significance.” Red Oval markers are used to identify over 125 buildings in Blowing Rock that are 50 years or older. The signs also relate the year of construction as well as key elements about the building.
Currently Thamena Hanna operates Hanna’s, however, since 1919, four generations of the Hanna family have contributed to running the business.