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Burke County Arts Council
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Burke County Arts Council

Reclaiming an old jail to free the imagination

In the heart of historic Morganton is the Burke Arts Council, located in an old building that once housed the county’s law officer as well as the jail. In the mid 20th century, the jailhouse was two stories. The sheriff’s office and several cells were on the first floor. In a residence on the upper story, the sheriff’s wife prepared meals for prisoners. Eventually, the second story was taken down and the smaller security cells were made into one large cell called, “the tank.” The jailhouse was about to be demolished when county leaders to decided to save and refurbish it. 

The Burke Arts Council was founded in 1977 and moved into the old jailhouse. Renamed the Jail House Gallery of the Burke Arts Council, the building was formally opened with a reception where the commissioners presented a key to the cell block door. 

The Arts Council coordinates arts activities in the community and serves as an information and resource center for the arts. In addition to its regular Third Thursday Art Crawls and Studio Tours, the Council works with other Morgantown organizations to host a number of popular events, including the Oyster Outing every October. Art Classes and workshops are available for children and adults with topics tailored to meet the unique needs of our craft artists in today’s economy. The Council has recruited incredible artists and art teachers from across Western North Carolina to work with children at an annual summer camp. They offer a full summer art camp experience featuring a different theme each day and a different art form.   

For hours, events and other news, go to the website


115 East Meeting StreetMorganton, NC 28655Get DirectionsPhone: 828-433-7282 Web: https://burkearts.orgEmail: director@burkearts.org

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