From Murphy, travel east on US 64 for 5 miles. Turn right at Tri-County Community College onto Old US 64. Travel 2 miles to Brasstown Road. Turn right; the entrance is on the left.
Hiking, dancing, nature walks.
Lodging, studios, dance pavilion, craft shop, meeting rooms.
There is a charge for classes.
Brasstown, North Carolina
Campbell Folk School,
One Folk School Road,
Brasstown, NC 28902-9603.
Phone (800) FOLK-SCH.
Tell them you saw it on
Great Carolina Property
Designated an Historical District by the National Register of Historic Places, the Folk School's 27 buildings are the scene of many services to the community, a variety of special events, and an internationally recognized crafts instruction program. The 372-acre campus features fully equipped craft studios where people from all over the world come to learn pottery, weaving, spinning, dyeing, blacksmithing, stained glass, basketry, wood carving, woodworking, broom making, dollmaking, quilting, and many other crafts. In addition to crafts, the Folk School has been instrumental in preserving mountain music and dance traditions. A sawmill, meeting rooms, covered outdoor dance pavilion, nature trail, craft shop, vegetable garden, and rustic lodgings are scattered across the picturesque campus. While many buildings are in the style of typical Appalachian farm buildings, some were designed by a Belgian architect in a Romantic European style, adding to the unique ambiance and quickly impressing on any first-time visitor that something special is going on here.
Campbell Folk School and other settlement schools in the area—Penland School of Crafts and Arrowmont School of Art & Craft in nearby Gatlinburg, Tennessee—were originally founded by urban social workers to teach country people city ways. Ironically, today these schools are in great demand to teach weary city dwellers the ways of these magnificent mountains.
Earlier this century, settlement schools were established in the mountains of North Carolina as a means of bringing improved education to the isolated coves and valleys. Farming practices and craft instruction, for instance, were taught in an effort to elevate the depressed economies of the region.
The Campbell Folk School in Brasstown grew out of the efforts of John C. Campbell, his wife Olive Dame, and their friend Marguerite Butler. At the turn of the century, Campbell and his new bride studied mountain life from Georgia to West Virginia. While John interviewed farmers about their agricultural practices, Olive collected mountain ballads and studied regional handicrafts.
The Campbells were intrigued by an approach to education in Denmark that had helped transform the countryside into a vibrant and creative force: the folk school, or "school for life." It was their hope that this alternative to traditional education, when applied to the southern Appalachians, would help change the pattern that had developed that led intelligent young people away from their family farms to work in the cities. John died in 1919, but Olive Dame and Marguerite Butler continued to study folk schools in Denmark, Sweden, and other countries.
When they returned to America full of enthusiasm, these two dynamic women had the wisdom to know that the effective implementation of such plans had to grow out of a genuine collaboration with the people. While exploring several potential locations, Miss Butler made a trip to Brasstown, where she explained the idea to local merchant, Fred O. Scroggs. Before leaving, she told him she would be back in a few weeks to see if any interest had been shown. The 200 people who later greeted her at the local church offered a resounding "Yes!" They pledged labor, building materials, and other support, including 75 acres of land donated by the Scroggs family. In 1925, the Folk School began its work.