Boone Walking Tour
Downtown Boone Walking Tour
The Jones House is a historic home in Boone, North Carolina and is now a cultural and community center with spaces for artists, musicians, and community groups. The Jones House was built by physician Walter Jones in 1908 and is a combination of the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne building styles. The house, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, is one of the few remaining examples of pre-WWII structures in Boone. The home now holds art galleries, offers spaces for community groups, and serves as the headquarters of the Downtown Boone Development Association.
People come from all over to visit the Watauga County Mast General Stores. One of these is a store in downtown Boone commonly known as the Old Boone Mercantile. The exterior of this location suggests there are two buildings. This is an accurate assessment given that they were built in separate years, and they each have their own, though shared, pasts. However, since the completion of the left side of the building (the side with red brick) in 1913, they have played a vital role in the community regardless of whether they functioned as a bank, a radio station, or numerous department stores including the widely popular Mast General Store.
Arthel “Doc” Watson (1923-2012) was both a local musical hero and “Just One of The People” as the King Street statue of him states. Blinded since infancy, Doc exhibited musical passion and talent at a young age, starting first with harmonica and then learning on a banjo his father made for his 11th birthday. Doc played for tips in Downtown Boone and tuned pianos for a living before his lightning-fast bluegrass guitar talent was “discovered” in 1960 by Smithsonian folklorist Ralph Rinzler. Soon Doc was a shining star of the American folk revival, touring across the country with his son and musical partner, Merle. Since Doc’s death in 2012, he has remained an international representative of the High Country and an inspiration to local and distant musicians of all ages who carry on his legacy.
Although rarely thought of as mountain folk, towns like Boone find themselves home to multi-ethnic communities, some of which date back to a world of slavery. African American communities shape the nuance of mountain life through their mere existence, and yet their presence is not well acknowledged. The Junaluska community was one such community, although it has since dissolved in the wake of integration, and through businesses like the Chocolate Bar as well as churches and other locales, the landscape of Boone has been shaped.
Home to one of Boone’s prominent families the Linney House stands overlooking West King Street, as it has since the 1890s. Belonging to Frank A. Linney, and later his daughter, Margaret Linney Coffey, the house has expanded as the land it sits on has shrunk significantly in size, changing in purpose and boundaries alike.
By 1940, the New Deal era and its programs reached the farthest corners of the nation, including mountain towns such as Boone, NC. It was during this year that a beautiful stone post office was dedicated in Boone, NC. Yet, it was not merely the exterior that was a treasure for the town but the interior, as well. Along with the Works Progress Administrations building project that resulted in the construction of this post office was an artwork program to decorate the walls of federal post offices. The artwork that emerged from this program, specifically “Young Daniel Boone on a hunting expedition in Watauga Country,” helped to not only assert but solidify Boone’s identity within the nation.
Farmers Hardware, located on West King Street in downtown Boone, North Carolina, was a quintessential part of downtown from its original opening as a hardware retailer in 1924. Adapting to the changes and pressures of technology and big-box stores, Farmer’s Hardware closed its doors in 2004, changed its business model, and reopened the following summer as an eclectic emporium called The Shoppes at Farmers Hardware. To this day Farmers has remained a local, family business, with Greene’s descendants providing a 21st-century vision for the business.
The Rivers Printing Company building on West King Street in Boone, North Carolina housed the offices and print shop of the Watauga Democrat from 1933 until the mid 1980s. Initially published in 1888, The Watauga Democrat served the Town of Boone and Watauga County as the leading local newspaper, documenting the life of the small town and advocating for civic improvement projects such as highways, railroads, electricity and schools.
The Watauga County Jail built in 1889 is located in downtown Boone, just off main street. Boone maintained the fascia of a suburban house, while serving a more serious function. Built in 1889, the jail was the fourth jail built chronologically speaking in Boone. The building has not functioned as a jail since 1925 when it was decommissioned. Today the building, which features a mid-century facade, is home to Proper, a southern style restaurant.
Constructed in 1912, and formerly located on the grounds of Appalachian State University’s campus, the Daniel Boone Cabin Monument is said to be made from remains of a cabin believed to belong to Daniel Boone. It originally stood on Faculty Street and in 1969 the monument was moved to another location. In 2005 it was moved yet again to the home place of Rachel Rivers-Coffey. Daniel Boone, a frontiersman and national hero, was said to have stayed in the town of Boone during hunting trips in the 1760s.
The Rivers House, also known as the R. L. Clay House, was constructed circa 1930 for R. L. Clay. This one and a half story “period cottage” house, was in turn purchased by Robert Campbell Rivers, Jr., circa 1940. Situated on a thirteen-acre property, this house was donated to the town of Boone by Rachel Rivers-Coffey in 1998, the daughter of Robert Rivers, Jr. The Rivers family served the region with their role in the newspaper business, running not only the Watauga Democrat at the peak of their existence, but also the Blowing Rock Rocket and the Avery Journal.
Near the campus of Appalachian State University is a building that now houses Café Portofino, a popular local bar and eatery; however, this building once served another purpose as the Tweetsie Railroad maintenance station, also known as the Linville River Railway Depot. For over half a century, people have been drawn to the Tweetsie attraction in Blowing Rock, NC. Tweetsie was originally more than a loop of track for tourists to experience, it was a railroad that connected Boone to other places thus driving business. Little do visitors know, the original Tweetsie depot is not in Blowing Rock but in the heart of downtown Boone, NC.
Local attorney George Kelly Moose and his business partner John R. McNary opened the Boone Drug Company in 1920. The drugstore was longstanding staple of Boone's downtown and the owners of the business were generous supporters of Appalachian State University. The building is now home to Our Daily Bread, a popular local eatery. Some of the pharmacy's historic signage remain at the original location, while the pharmacy continues to do business at another location on King Street.
Built in 1938, the Appalachian Theatre was Boone’s only example of Art Deco architecture and the cultural hub for the High Country. Non-white audiences were not allowed until 1948, though, and the theater remained segregated into the 1960s. The theater showed movies and hosted live performances. Headline live performers included the Foggy Mountain Boys, Minnie Pearl, and Doc Watson. It closed in 2007, but the nonprofit organization Appalachian Theatre of the High Country is currently restoring its original architecture and bringing movies back to Downtown Boone.
The Daniel Boone Hotel was a substantial, simply detailed 1920s commercial hotel prominently sited on a hill above East King Street in the downtown district of Boone, North Carolina. Built in 1925, the building was two stories tall and was designed with Colonial Revival detailing. The main entrance included a long terraced walkway beginning from the West King Street sidewalk leading to an entrance veranda on Grand Street. The listed address was 116 Grand Street, and it sat upon 10 acres in the heart of the High Country.