Historic Sites and Museums
The Past Is Right At Home
Here in Catawba County, the past is something we cherish and celebrate. First settled by the Catawba Indians in 1747, the Catawba Valley is overflowing with history and tradition. Follow the footsteps of our forefathers on an invigorating walking tour. Step back in time in one of our fascinating museums. Get an impromptu history lesson from one of our friendly locals. Whatever you’re looking to explore, the spirit of the past has never been more alive. Come discover our hometown traditions.
Historic Sites and Museums
Balls Creek Campground
Buffalo Shoals Road in Catawba. The tradition of annual religious revivals started at Grassy Branch (now Terrell) by Methodists during the late 1790's. This tradition continued when the present Ball Creek Campground was constructed in 1853 as a central location to all the Methodist congregations in eastern Catawba County. The yearly two-week revivals at the Balls Creek Campground continue to the present day. These revivals have only been interrupted on two occasions, one was for rowdiness, the other during wartime. The campground and its several hundreds of tents are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bunker Hill Covered Bridge 828-465-0383
14 miles east of Hickory off Hwy. 70, Claremont. The 1895 historic Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is one of only two covered bridges remaining in North Carolina. It also remains as the lone example of the use of the "haupt" truss design named for Civil War engineer / bridge builder Herman Haupt. The bridge's 85 foot span crosses Lyles Creek.
Catawba County Museum of History 828-465-0383
Catawba County's history is exhibited at the 1924 Catawba County Courthouse. The extensive collection includes a rare British Revolution era red coat, a 1930's racing car and a fine collection of locally crafted furniture. The Catawba County Historical Association's valuable collection is housed in the greater part of the courthouse building with eight major galleries, museum store and reception area. The lower level features a law and government gallery, which includes an old jail cell. Closed Mondays.
Catawba Valley Furniture Museum 828-322-3510
Hickory Furniture Mart, 2220 Hwy. 70 E. Trace the roots of the furniture industry in Catawba Valley. Tour the authentic reproduction of an early Catawba woodworking shop and see the collection of vintage tools and furnishings.
Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Firefighters Museum of Catawba County 828-466-0911
3957 Herman Sipe Rd., Conover. Equipment and photos dating back to the early 1900's are on display in this museum, which includes a 40' x 100' exhibit hall. Among the items on display are six fire trucks, the oldest of which is a 1936 American LaFrance pumper. Dedicated in May of 1994, this museum is geared toward educating visitors about fire safety and the fire service. Admission is free (donations accepted). Open to the public Saturdays 11:00 am - 4:00 pm; Sundays 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm; Monday-Friday by appointment only for school and community groups.
Fort Defiance 828-758-1671
Hwy. 268, Lenoir (off Hwy. 321). Historic restoration of the 18th-century home of General William Lenoir. Tours and group picnics available. Open April through October. Call for hours.
"From This Day Forward" 800-743-8398
401 Church St. NW, Valdese. Explore the history of the Waldensians, a religious sect dating back to the Reformation. The historic drama depicts the plight of the Waldensians in the Alps of Italy and their eventual arrival in Valdese in 1893. Performances Friday-Sunday, at 8:15 p.m, mid-July through mid-August.
Historic Newton Walking Tour 828-465-7400
Take a tour through the Newton North Main Avenue historic district. You will find 100 historically significant buildings including two churches and one school adaptively reused as an administrative building and a civic performance place. The 1924 Courthouse is the home of the Catawba County Museum of History.
The Ivey Arboretum in Carolina Park 828-323-7500/828-322-7046
Located adjacent to downtown Hickory on NC Hwy. 127 North. Hickory is the home of the Ivey Arboretum, a collection of over 400 labeled species of native and rare trees and shrubs within a three-acre park. The Arboretum was founded by local industrialist and tree enthusiast George Ivey in 1936 in historic Carolina Park (1904). The Arboretum was recently restored with the replacement of many of the unusual plant specimens. Guided tours are available.
Maple Grove 828-322-4731
542 2nd St. NE, Hwy. 127 North, Hickory. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Maple Grove is a restored Italianate-style house built in 1883. Experience Maple Grove’s tranquility featuring authentic Victorian furnishings. Self-guided tour. Guided tour by appointment. Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Murray’s Mill Historic Site 828-465-0383/828-241-4299
NC Hwy. 10, near the town of Catawba. I-40, exit 138. One of the few agriculturally related North Carolina historic sites, the Murray’s Mill complex is nestled in the rolling hills along Balls Creek in rural Catawba County. This restored complex consists of a grist mill (first built in the 1880's and later restored in 1913) powered by a huge overshot waterwheel, an 1890's country store, an 1880's wheat house, and the miller’s residence, first built in 1913 and later restored in 1935. See www.catawbahistory.org
Old Hickory Brewery 828-323-8753
The only micro-brewery in the Unifour, offers not only unique beer but a very unique atmosphere as well. The eight handcrafted beers available on tape are accented by a dining room furnished with booths made from 1000-gallon wine casks from the Old Bernard Winery of Valdese. The beers themselves keep with the "local" theme by having such names as Brown Mountain Light and Table Rock Pale Ale after local western North Carolina sites and Crawdad Red after the local minor league team. Monday - Thursday 11:00 am - 11:00 pm; Friday - Saturday 11:00 am - 12:00 midnight. See www.oldhickorybrewery.com
Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church 828-464-9786
St. Paul's Church Rd., Newton. Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is a two-story log weather-boarded church, featuring an impressive federal-style interior including intricately carved sounding board and moldings and a slave balcony. Built in 1818, it remains the oldest existing church in North Carolina west of the Catawba River. Graveyard headstones date to the late 1700s.
Propst House 828-322-4731
547 6th St. NW in the Shuford Memorial Gardens, Hickory. A Second Empire-style cottage built in 1883, the Propst House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. House Beautiful magazine referred to this home of a master craftsman as a "Victorian gem." Thursdays and Sundays 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. and other times by appointment.
Terrell Country Store 828-478-2065
Corner of Hwy. 150 and Sherrills Ford Rd. Built in 1891, this country store was the focal point of Terrell for trade and commerce in southeastern Catawba County. The post office was housed in this building from 1893 to 1997. See www.catawbahistory.org
Waldensian Heritage Wines 828-879-3202
4940 Villar Lane NE, Valdese. Open for tours and tasting every Friday through Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m., the winery offers the same variety of wines made by original Waldensian winemakers.
Waldensian Museum 828-874-2531
208 Rodoret St. SE, Valdese. Explore the history of the Waldenses, a religious sect dating back to the Reformation. Housed in a building that matches the architecture of the historic Waldensian Presbyterian Church. Call to arrange a guided tour. Seehttp://www.waldensianpresbyterian.com/museum.htm
Waldensian Trail Of Faith 800-635-4778/828-874-1893
401 Church St. NW, Valdese. Explore a stone fortress and secret cave as the pages of Waldensian history unfold. The tour also includes a medieval church and other historical structures. Open Saturday-Sunday, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours available.