The Avery County Historical Museum, in Newland, North Carolina, is housed in the old county jail and features exhibits on railroads, local Civil War history, and country music stars Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman.
Avery County was created in 1911 and is the youngest county in the state of North Carolina. The Avery County Historical Museum was founded in 1976, during the nation’s bicentennial, and is one of the oldest museums in Western North Carolina.
Visit the Museum in the Old County Jail
The museum is housed in the circa 1913 Avery County jail. The jail was constructed at the same time as the court house, and bricks for both structures were manufactured in the town square. The county ceased to use the structure in the early 1970s. It was used for an office for a short time and, in 1976, became the home for the Avery County Historical Museum. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
While the building is full of artifacts relating to Avery County history, a visitor need not be from the area to enjoy the museum. Railroad buffs will enjoy the exhibit on the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (Tweetsie). Those interested in the Civil War can learn more about Keith and Malinda Blalock. There are also exhibits on the Sloops, who founded the Crossnore School, education, and law enforcement.
One special exhibit is dedicated to the life of Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman, an early musical duet with roots in Avery County. Lulu Belle and Scotty performed on WLS in Chicago for many years (1930s-1950s) before coming back to Avery County. Lulu Belle would later represent the area in the State House.
The museum also contains a book store, one of the best in the area, stocked with books about Avery County and Western North Carolina.
Hours of Operation
Monday – Fridays: 10 am – 3 pm
Saturdays: by appointment
Free, although donations are gladly accepted.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
The Avery County Historical Museum is located in Newland, NC beside the Court House.