For 25 years, Phyllis Griffith perfected her large Victorian-style dollhouse, complete with working chandeliers and a secret garden. Richard Griffith donated his late wife’s masterpiece to the Dry Ridge Museum. Weaverville residents were invited to view the dollhouse, decked out for Christmas, Dec. 9, during the Candlelight Walk held downtown between 6 and 9 p.m. The museum, housed in the Weaverville Library basement, 41 N. Main St., was open and offered refreshments during the event.
Residents, new and old, can expect to walk away from Dry Ridge with a better understanding of local history, or a refresher on the history they may have forgotten. According to museum director Jan Lawrence, Weaverville residents should think of the Dry Ridge Museum when they come across items with historical meaning to the region. Lawrence has volunteered with the museum for about 12 years. Her uncle was on the original board of trustees, when the museum was founded in 1983.
In addition to the tremendous resource of information, that is Jan Lawrence, the Dry Ridge Museum is full of local, treasured items like the Griffiths’ dollhouse. Some items date back to 1787. Area families have donated, or lent heirlooms with local significance to the museum for years. When families downsize, or businesses close, like the recent downtown closing of Shope’s Furniture, the museum becomes a sanctuary.
“Scott Shope’s father and grandfather were both mayors of Weaverville,” said Lawrence. “Scott and his family was so generous in opening everything they had for us to use,” said Lawrence, pointing out old photographs of the Shope building on Main Street.
Visitors will also find period clothing, furniture and personal belongings of some of Weaverville’s early settlers, including items from John Weaver himself. Weaver was the first white settler in Weaverville. The museum displays tools he brought with him when he settled, and a small desk owned by the family.
“Montraville Weaver (John’s son) donated the land for Weaverville and it’s named for him,” said Lawrence, who is a direct descendent of the original Weaver family.
In addition, Dry Ridge houses the journals of Dr. James Reagan, Montraville Weaver’s son-in-law, who recorded the more than 900 births he witnessed during his career.
Lawrence is full of similar Weaverville facts, including the past history of the current Well-Bred Bakery building, formerly the Weaverville Drug Co. “In 1910, according to the census, we had four physicians and four pharmacists in Weaverville,” she explained. “That’s how we beat Prohibition, by prescribing alcohol out of the drugstore,” she added with a smile.
Lawrence believes Weaver College is the reason behind the high number of doctors per population of 600 in the early 1900’s. “The college was a four-year college, but was turned into a two-year college until 1934, when it consolidated with the Brevard Institute,” Lawrence said. For anyone interested in gathering extra historical information about Weaverville, Lawrence suggests heading to the Brevard College archives. “They have a lot of archival information from Weaverville and the college here,” she said.
Periodically, the museum offers different themes, focusing on the Weaverville’s historical “movers and shakers,” said Lawrence. The museum’s offerings aren’t valuable, however, to the area’s older families. New families can visit Dry Ridge to gather details about the older homes and see what the town looked like in the past. The museum has individual histories of period homes, along with old photos, gathered in albums.
Lawrence said she is happy to sit down with folks working on genealogical research, and help where she is able. The Dry Ridge Museum is open from March through December, Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment. Call 828.250.6482 for more information.