Historic creamery finds new life as a fine craft gallery
When the John C. Campbell Folk School was founded in 1925, the school aimed to build a social and economic infrastructure that would support both the school and the communities it served. In those first few years, the school founded a number of cooperatives, including the Mountain Valley Creamery in 1929. School staff, students and local farmers built a creamery, using rocks from the Brasstown Creek behind the building. The Creamery thrived for several decades, allowing local farmers to process and sell milk.
Today, the historic Mountain Valley Creamery has been given new life as the Highlander Gallery, on Old Highway 64, a mile east of the folk school. Representing some of the finest artists in these mountains, the gallery is located on the upper level of the 3,500 square foot building on three acres of property along Brasstown Creek. The lower level, surrounded by windows and light, houses a classroom, studio, and frame shop. Workshops and classes are taught in a large classroom flanked by a full kitchen and full bathroom. There are plans to develop an Artist Commons to serve as a residence for visiting artists who teach classes. During mild weather seasons, there are often artists on site demonstrating their craft.
Owners and managers of the Highlander Gallery are the husband and wife team of Sherry and Wayne Dukes. The Dukes are best known for their online travel and relocation magazine, TheBlueRidgeHighlander.com. Both Dukes have been creative since very young. She is a painter, sculptor, and seamstress, while he is a photojournalist and woodcarver. They both started out in commercial art before moving to the mountains in 1995. Looking for a means to live in the mountains, they developed the online travel and lifestyle magazine in 1996.
The Dukes are also property managers for the historic home of Marguerite and Georg Bidstrup. Marguerite worked side-by-side with school founder, Olive Dame Campbell, while Georg ran the farm. The beautiful grounds of their stone home are used for additional space for plein air painting.
Check out their website for hours and directions.