What do a Civil War veteran, High Sheriff, Navajo Indian Superintendent, Extension Agent, and craft museum have in common? A man named Stephen Jehu Shelton.
The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts in Waynesville, NC, is housed in the historic Shelton House, home to Stephen Jehu Shelton and then to his son William Taylor Shelton, founder of the Shiprock New Mexico Navajo Indian Reservation and School. Stephen Shelton was a Civil War veteran, High Sheriff, Navajo Indian Superintendent, and an Extension Agent during his lifetime.
He built his house, an excellent example of a typical Charleston-style farmhouse of the era, in 1875. The architecture features stately columns, a double veranda, a central foyer leading into a dining hall, and a labyrinthine second floor layout. The restored interior is furnished with antiques. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts
In 1977, Mary Cornwell, Haywood County Home Extension Agent, and several “Village of Yesteryear” crafters from the North Carolina State Fair selected Shelton House as the home of the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts. The museum showcases distinctive art, handicrafts, and furniture created by North Carolina artists.
The museum’s displays include intricate woodworking, weaving, quilting, pottery, dolls, and many other artifacts. Will Shelton’s authentic Navajo rugs and hand-crafted Native American pieces as well as modern-day Cherokee crafts are exhibited in the Native American Room.
In addition to its extensive crafts collection, the museum also exhibits many artifacts and furniture pieces collected and preserved from as far back as the 18th century. This collection includes hand woven coverlets, hand-sewn quilts, fired pottery, sculptured porcelain, dulcimers, hand painted china, pewter crafts, antique woven baskets, and hand crafted porcelain dolls.
The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is a program of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.