North Carolina’s Furniture Capitol
In a state that has more than its share of trees, it makes sense that a multiplicity of furniture companies made their home near the foothills of North Carolina. Does the name Thomasville bring anything to mind? If you’ve purchase oak furniture in the past, and in particular, Victorian oak design, the company you bought from was probably Thomasville.
Funny thing—it wasn’t until after we sold our home AND furniture, that it occurred to me this was the brand of furniture we owned. My hubby and I love oak, and I was partial to Victorian Era style. So, we took a Sunday afternoon trip to this quiet town, where one of the furniture companies began.
Thomasville, NC: the Furniture Industry's Roots
When I saw the mural above, the meaning completely escaped me. Standing a few feet from the art work, I couldn’t see the name of the town in the tree’s roots. When I stepped back, I noticed it, and finally understood that Thomasville’s roots were deeply embedded in the furniture industry. See the “fruit” on its branches? You'll find other fascinating art throughout the city by taking a Mural Walk.
The Biggest Chair in Thomasville
Thomasville is noted for the Big Chair—created by to commemorate their town’s history. The original, made of wood, was replaced in 1936 with one that could withstand the elements. It stands proudly near the tiny train station that features a red caboose that is open at times to the public. You can watch trains pass through town at all hours of the day and night via a livestream camera.
The Largest Chest of Drawers in High Point, NC
High Point, a triad city (along with Greensboro and Winston-Salem) is known as the Home-furnishings Capital of the World. Its symbol is World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, towering 36 feet in the air with a pair of socks playfully sticking out of an open drawer as a nod to the city’s hosiery industry. Since 1926 it has been renovated and repainted many times, and disguises a commercial building facade.
The Historic Town of Salem, NC
The original Salem (of Winston-Salem) was home to Moravians, Blacks and Indigenous people in the American South. The historic buildings and interpreters tell the story of its founding. Located near High Point, it's no surprise that Old Salem has an Early Southern Decorative Arts Museum featuring items that would have been created and displayed in homes.
Although the individual buildings were closed on the day we visited, a walk down the center of the street gave us a taste of the cultural history of the early South. Architecture from the 18th century continues to fascinate me. It’s a thing of beauty in my eyes. And who would have guessed that Krispy Kreme Donuts had its beginnings in Old Salem!
For another look at the south, check out my post on Charleston--A Writer's Guide to Travel--one of my favorite historical towns. What are your favorite historical museums? What in particular draws you back to the past? Let me know below!
Those Were the Days, My Friends. . .
As we headed towards North Carolina, our future home, and not far from the Virginia border, I saw billboards announcing the upcoming attraction: Mount Airy. Hmmmm. The name sounded familiar. Ahhh, yes! Voted an “All-American Town”, it was chosen as the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, and, coincidentally, the star himself grew up here. Above, you can see a mural painted in his honor.
We drove through, then later wandered down the main street, with it's many storefronts reminding us of another era. I felt like a child again, sitting cross-legged in front of my black and white TV, twin antennae sprouting from the top. Although I was a city girl, something was mesmerizing about Andy, who never got ruffled and took everything in stride. And Aunt Bea? Well, goll-ee! What kid wouldn't want her bustling around the house, cooking and cleaning, giving sound advice, and offering milk and cookies hot out of the oven after a hard day at school?
Even the Townsfolk Played the Part
The visitor’s center had two seventy-something folks giving us helpful advice—what to see and do in one hour, since we had to drive to the coast that day, and had very little time. Although we didn't visit the museum, we enjoyed our stroll, chuckling at the signs and peeking in windows.
Supposedly, Andy Griffith worked at this soda fountain in his youth. So, we decided to check it out. Wow. Talk about going back in time! We met Gina, another 70-something lady who made quite an impression on me. Even though she had many health issues, and had to stop driving, it didn't dampen her enthusiastic spirit for life. She found a way to make it work. . .
Of course, Gina offered to take a photo of us, so we obliged!
Out on the street, we found many references to Mayberry and the show. . .
And look what drove down the street, obviously slowing down as he passed, hoping I’d take a photo. . .
All in all, it was well worth losing time on our journey. Since I am moving towards rebranding myself as "historical" (silver hair and all), it seemed appropriate to stop and drink in the nostalgia.
Have you visited a town used as a movie set? Ever visited Mount Airy? If you are a Baby Boomer, did you watch The Andy Griffith Show? If so, who was your favorite character and why? Let me know below!
Visiting the home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of The Girl Scouts in Savannah (1912) was truly an inspiration. Although this woman never achieved her dreams of a loving marriage and a house full of children, she found her passion in helping girls around the globe to realize their own dreams.
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My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.