The Jones House
From High Country Press, 2012.
A Gallery Inside the Jones House
The Jones House in Winter - Photo Credit: L. Hutton
The Jones House
Want to learn more about regional culture and history? Read Ian Hartman's book, In the Shadow of Boone and Crockett: Race, Culture, and the Politics of Representation in the Upland South
A History of Watauga County, North Carolina: With Sketches of Prominent Families, by John Preston Arthur.
Backstory and Context
Walter Jones was a well-respected doctor and a prominent citizen in the Boone community. He earned his degree at the Chattanooga College of Medicine and started working with Dr. Thomas Blackburn, of the prominent Blackburn family in Watauga County. In May of 1907, Walter Jones married Mattie Blackburn, who was the daughter of Manley and Martha Blackburn and the niece of Dr. Thomas Blackburn. The Joneses had two children: John Walter, Jr., born May 13, 1915, and Mazie Jean Jones Levenson, born January 18, 1914.
In 1922, with his medical practice booming, Dr. Jones decided to build an office. This two-story structure, known to Boone residents as the historic location of Hunt’s Department Store (currently part of the Mast General Store location), was opened in 1924. He used the upstairs as an office and dispensary and rented the downstairs out as a department store. Curiously, the building also contained Boone’s first telephone exchange. Dr. Jones became sick with pneumonia near the end of 1924 and was taken to Knoxville, Tennessee for treatment, but died on January 14, 1925. John Walter Jr. tragically died in 1938 while serving in the Marines. Mattie Jones continued to live in the family home until 1975 when she moved to a nursing home in Greensboro, where she resided until her death in October 1978 at the age of ninety-five.
Mazie Jones Levenson attended Appalachian Teachers College in Boone (before it officially became Appalachian State University in 1967) and left Boone after graduation in order to start her teaching career. She inherited the house and adjoining land when her mother died in 1978. She sold the house to the Town of Boone in 1983 with a stipulation in the deed that mandated the house and surrounding green space only be used as a cultural and community center. During her life Mazie was active with the Greensboro Preservation Society and was an ardent supporter of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy in Boone. Mazie Jones Levenson resided in Winston-Salem, NC until her death in early 2013. Although the restriction of use expired in 2008, the Town of Boone continues to honor her wishes for the use of the house, and in her memory the downstairs gallery was dubbed the Mazie Jones Gallery.
Located in Boone’s commercial district, the Jones House and its spacious lot offer a visual break from the two-story red brick buildings which comprise the majority of Boone’s downtown section. It stands as a gentle reminder of Boone’s past and as a pleasant contrast to the numerous condominiums which have since been built all around downtown Boone. The Jones House was originally situated on a six-acre lot that included stables, an ice house, several other outbuildings, and a garden. However, construction of an office building by Dr. Jones in 1924, the subsequent sales of parcels of the property, and the widening of several of Boone’s streets have all contributed to the reduction of the property from its original six acres to its current one-acre lot. Boone’s present-day commercial district is the product of mid-century growth, and the existence of a sizeable residential lot in its midst harkens back to late nineteenth and very early twentieth century land-use patterns.
The Jones House hosts art exhibits to showcase the works of local artists that can be viewed for free from 12:00pm-5:00pm, Tuesday-Friday, year-round. The Jones House holds an artist’s reception on the first Friday of every month but January where the public can meet the artists and socialize with other community members. The Jones House also provides opportunities for local musicians to play together at their weekly jam sessions, held every Thursday evening from 7:30pm-11:00pm. From June to September concerts are held on the lawn of the Jones House every Friday at 5pm, free of charge.