The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center’s Walk Through History series is an opportunity for WNC residents to get to know the rich history of the Swannanoa Valley by walking its historic estates, sidewalks and cemeteries with knowledgeable guides. Running from April thru September one Wednesday morning a month (with a break in July), each tour is conducted by local experts who intimately know the history of the individuals and communities who once traversed the valley. Come enjoy a morning stroll through WNC history!

COVID POLICY: All walking tours take place out of doors, allowing for social distancing to be observed.

LOCATIONS: All registered attendees will receive an email ahead of each event detailing the sign-in location. These events will not take place at the Swannanoa Valley Museum.

COST: $35 per event for general admission, $25 for museum members with a promo code. Some fees apply. 

The Swannanoa Valley Museum’s 2023 Walk Through History series is supported by Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s Festivals & Cultural Events Support Fund.

2023 Locations

LocationDate
Thomas ChapelWednesday, April 12th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Historic GrovemontWednesday, May 10th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Lake TomahawkWednesday, June 14th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Pisgah TownWednesday, August 9th, 10:30am-12:00pm
Blue Ridge AssemblyWednesday, September 13th. 10:30am-12:00pm

2023 Location Details

April 12th: Thomas Chapel

Thomas Chapel, believed to be the first church for freed Black people in Black Mountain, was called Tom’s Chapel when it was established (the name was later changed to Thomas Chapel). One of the earliest Black families to locate in Black Mountain, and one of the founding families of the church, are the Stepps, descended from white Black Mountain slaveholder Joseph Stepp and his slave Myra Stepp, who was part Cherokee. Thomas Chapel has been located in three different buildings from 1892-1922. The Thomas Chapel that currently resides on Cragmont Road was built in 1922 and lovingly restored in 2012. Join us in exploring this historic church and cemetery. REGISTER HERE

May 10th: Historic Grovemont

Take a guided walking tour of the early 20th century Grovemont-On-Swannanoa planned community developed by E.W. Grove in 1924 and Lake June. Grovemont-On-Swannanoa was billed as America’s first planned community with 500 acres for homes, churchs, lakes, and recreation area. Lake June, a man-made lake that was once part of the Grovemont-On-Swannanoa planned community is a once popular recreation spot, by mid century the lake had drained away and gradually the land had become overgrown with invasive species like kudzu, english ivy and multiflora rose. The tour unearths the ruins of a lakehouse and stone pillars that were once part of the development surrounding the lake, as well as a more mysterious site that has been dubbed “The Spring House” and may be the last remnants of a homestead of unknown age. As the tour moves through the 2.35 acre site, the guides will point out the ways in which the land, the historical remnants and plants and animals tell a story of change and resilience and the hidden history that lies in our midst. REGISTER HERE

June 14th: Lake Tomahawk

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during the bleakest years of the Great Depression. Over its eight years of existence, the WPA put roughly 8.5 million Americans to work. One of these projects was Lake Tomahawk. Learn about this fascinating history while taking a walk around the lake. We will discuss the creation of the lake and its history from its inception in 1936 to the present.  REGISTER HERE

August 9th: Pisgah Town

The tour will focus on the Warren Wilson site, a Native American archaeology site where major excavations were conducted between 1964 and 2000. The site was occupied intermittently over more than 8,000 years. Participants will learn about the various periods of Native American settlements and will learn about the layout of the Cherokee villages of the 14th and 15th centuries. Visitors will get a glimpse of the Swannanoa valley before colonial intrusions. This is an easy walk of no more than 2 miles total. REGISTER HERE

September 13th: Blue Ridge Assembly

Dr. Willis D. Weatherford Sr. founded Blue Ridge Assembly by combining his strong faith with two of his passions – the development of young minds and the inspiring beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Weatherford, Director of the Student YMCA of the South, had been called to this work by Dr. John R. Mott, Nobel Peace Prize winner and world leader. This work consisted of challenging college students through conferences provided by the YMCA. During these conferences, Dr. Weatherford saw the need to engage young people with important issues, to provide direction and leadership skills, and to encourage authentic spirituality. In 1906, he set out looking for a place of beauty and inspiration that would support the goals of the college conferences. He began his search in his already beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. He knew the inspirational beauty and natural surroundings would be foundational to the Blue Ridge experience. Arriving by horse and buggy with a friend, Dr. Weatherford parked his horse down near the current location of the entrance to Blue Ridge Assembly. After hiking up the mountainside, Dr. Weatherford climbed a tree to assess the view. Upon seeing the beauty of the valley and mountain peaks beyond, he exclaimed to his friend waiting below, “Eureka, we have found it!”  REGISTER HERE