Visiting the Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center (Asheville NC)

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The Southern Highland Craft Guild has been an advocate for high-quality crafts being made and sold in the southern Appalachian Mountains since the 1930s.

Their mission is to ensure that generation after generation of locals and visitors alike continue to value both the traditional and modern arts and crafts of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Originally designed to boost income during the Great Depression, the SHCG now represents 800-1,000 craftspeople from 293 counties in 9 Southern states. 

Guild members work in 11 different mediums, including clay, glass, wood, metal, leather, fiber, paper, jewelry, natural materials, man-made materials, and mixed media.

What they all have in common is creating fine Appalachian folk art, which is sold at retail locations and various  North Carolina craft fairs.

They host special events throughout the region, including a bi-annual Craft Fair in Asheville in the Summer and Fall. The Guild also has a shop in Biltmore Village, a shop on Tunnel Road, and another at Moses H. Cone Manor.

Read on for our guide to the Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where visitors can find a artful exhibits, a craft shop, library, bookstore, and demonstrations from local craftspeople.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Hotels in Asheville NC to Visit


Looking for a place to stay near the Asheville Folk Arts Center?

  1. GLo Hotel Asheville-Blue Ridge Parkway (3-star hotel w/good breakfast & indoor pool)
  2. Best Western Asheville-Blue Ridge Parkway (pet-friendly w/good breakfast & pool)
  3. Holiday Inn Asheville East-Blue Ridge Pkwy (pet-friendly, quiet, affordable w/heated pool)
  4. Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville (stylish hotel w/rooftop terrace & mountain views)
  5. Mountain Springs Cabins (pet-friendly cabins 10 min west of Asheville)
Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center in Asheville NC
Inside the Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center

Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center Info 

ADDRESS: 382 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Asheville NC

PHONE NUMBER: 828-298-7928


HOURS:  Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM (except major holidays).


Driving Directions from Downtown Asheville

From Downtown Asheville, take Haywood St. towards College St. After 0.3 miles, turn right onto I-240 E. Go 4.2 miles, then keep right to continue on US-74 ALT E, following signs for the Blue Ridge Parkway. In 1 mile, exit towards the BRP and turn right onto it in 0.2 miles. Turn left in 2.8 miles, and the Asheville Folk Art Center will be on the right.

Driving Directions from Downtown Brevard

From downtown Brevard NC, head northeast on US-64 E/S Broad St toward E Main St. In 2.9 miles, at the traffic circle, continue straight onto US-276 N/US-64 E. Go 0.5 miles, then continue straight onto NC-280 E.

After 12.4 miles, turn left onto NC-191 N/Old Haywood Rd, then go 3.7 miles and turn right onto Ledbetter Rd. Make a right onto NC-146 E, then take a left onto Overlook Rd in 1.3 miles.

Continue for 1.9 miles, then make a left onto US-25 N/Hendersonville Rd. In 0.9 miles, turn right, then turn right onto Blue Ridge Parkway. Continue on the BRP for 6.7 miles, then turn left. Your destination will be on the right.

READ MORE: The 35 Best Things to Do in Asheville NC

Allanstand Gift Shop in Asheville NC circa 1953 (original by Edward Dupuy)
Allanstand Gift Shop circa 1953 (original by Edward Dupuy)

Asheville Folk Art Center History

The origins of the Southern Highland Craft Guild go back to 1895, when the Industrial Revolution’s disruption of the farming economy brought widespread poverty to Southern Appalachia.

Frances Goodrich, a missionary who traveled to the area and fell in love with Appalachian culture, set up what would soon be called Allanstand Cottage Industries to sell quilts, baskets, and other items sewn by local women.

Another arm of the craft revival began after the death of Olive Dame Campbell’s husband in 1919. After studying the folk schools of Scandinavia, she founded the John C. Campbell Folk School in 1925.  

It was Olive Campbell who had ideas about creating a cooperative craft collective, which became the Southern Highland Craft Guild in the 1930s. The SHCG has had a partnership with the US National Park Service for over 50 years now. 

Their Asheville NC Folk Art Center was built in partnership with the NPS and the Appalachian Regional Commission in 1980, and now serves as the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s permanent headquarters. 

The Allanstand Craft Shop (which was founded in 1895) was also moved to the Folk Art Center from Asheville, and is nationally recognized as the oldest craft shop in America!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Small Towns Near Asheville NC

Traditional Appalachian Basketry at the Asheville Folk Art Center
Traditional Appalachian Basketry in the Main Gallery

Folk Art Center Main Gallery 

Located on the second floor of the Folk Art Center, the Main Gallery showcases traditional and contemporary arts and crafts by members of the Guild and affiliated organizations.

Though some historical elements (including woodwork, clay, fiber, jewelry, and more) are permanent, this gallery also hosts temporary exhibits that change every few months.

This year began with an exhibition from the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, the oldest art center in Tennessee. The  exhibit includes workshops on painting, woodworking, fiber art, and metalwork, and runs through May 1, 2024.

The next Main Galley exhibition, “Class of 2024–Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts Program,” runs from May 11 to September 18, 2024. It will highlight the historical relationship between the college and the SHCG.

Their final Main Gallery exhibit of 2024 will focus on “New Members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild,” and runs from September 28 to January 18, 2025.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Asheville for Couples

Renewal-Lidded Vessel at the Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center
Renewal- Lidded Vessel, made with turned wood and clay

Folk Art Center Focus Gallery 

Located on the second floor of the SHCG Folk Art Center, the Focus Gallery spotlights the work of just 5 Southern Highland Craft Guild members at a time.

On display until May 20, “The Art of Detailing” focuses on fiber artist Judy Ott, clay artist Kelsey Schissel, glasswork from Kathryn Adams, clay artists Michael and Ruth Fischer Rutkowsky, and traditional broom-maker Peter Werner.

From May 24 t0 August 19, the “Hand Over Matter” exhibition will feature glasswork by Billy Bernstein, woodworking from Christine Smith, jewelry by Tamela Wells, clay pieces by Robert Milnes, and fiber art from Pam Grainger Gale. 

Lastly, the “Beautiful Mystery” exhibition will run from August 23 to November 11, with batik fabrics by Robin Ford, clay art by Sue Grier, clay, jewelry from Ilene Kay, woodworking by Brian Melton, and more clay from Joe Frank McKee.

READ MORE: The Top 15 Treehouse Rentals near Asheville NC

Hand-crafted wooden rocking chairs at the Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center
Hand-crafted wooden rocking chairs

Daily Demos and Workshops

Visitors to the Asheville Folk Art Center will often have a chance to meet local craftspeople and watch them demonstrate their talent and skills. These demos are typically offered in the Craft Shop or one of the two galleries. 

When we last visited the Center, I met women who use traditional spinning wheels to spin wool. They talked about dying it using natural materials, and showed how it is turned into fabric. It was a great experience in an inspiring setting!

March 2024 will feature demos on broom-making, jewelry-making, quilting, and needle felting. 

April 2024 will bring a bookbinding demo, as well as basketry, fiber adornments, woodturning, pottery, and jewelry-making demos. 

It’s worth signing up for the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center’s calendar to get up-to-date info on upcoming events. 

The Center also hosts occasional workshops where visitors can sign up for day-long classes with Guild members, and get instruction on a specific skill for a small fee. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best VRBO Cabins in Asheville NC

Southern Highland Craft Guild Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center
Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center

The Folk Art Center’s Allanstand Craft Shop

The story of the Allanstand Craft Shop, which is now located on the ground floor of the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, started in 1890 with the arrival of Frances Louisa Goodrich to Asheville NC.

After meeting several women who were still using traditional Appalachian weaving practices, she was inspired to start a cottage industry in the hopes of helping local women to provide for their families. 

Ultimately, Goodrich wanted to nurture creativity and artistic skill and “to save from extinction the old-time crafts while producing things of value and beauty.”

In 1897, she founded Allanstand Cottage Industries, which eventually became the Allanstand Craft Shop.

The business moved to Downtown Asheville in 1908 and stayed there until 1980, when it was relocated to the Asheville Folk Art Center. Many of the pieces in the Folk Art Center’s permanent collection came from Goodrich herself.

But in the end, her most generous contribution was arguably handing over the deed to Allanstand Cottage Industries to the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

They offer artisan-made jewelry, textiles, pottery, glass, and much more, making it a great place to find unique souvenirs and Christmas gifts!  –by Emma Gallagher; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Born in Britain, writer/photographer Emma Gallagher lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC on a permaculture homestead with her husband, Jonathon. While traveling the world for 13 years, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge region when she lived at an artist retreat in Burnsville NC before moving to Brevard. Today Emma lives near Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Park volunteers at the Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and cares for the gardens at the Reeves Downtown School of Music in Elkin. She's also a volunteer for the Elkin Valley Trails Association, which maintains segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.