mast general store - Original-Store

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3565 HWY 194 S. SUGAR GROVE, NC 28679 Plus-code-icon6669+49 Sugar Grove, North Carolina

STORE HOURS

mon10AM - 6PM

tue10AM - 6PM

wed10AM - 6PM

thu10AM - 6PM

fri10AM - 6PM

sat10AM - 6PM

sun11AM - 6PM

A Friendly Neighborhood Competition

John Preston Arthur, local historian and author, wrote this elegant description of Valle Crucis in his "History of Watauga County" in 1915: "There is, perhaps, more interest in this place and its romantic history than in any other in Watauga County. …There is a dreamy spell which hangs over this little valley…" And he was right! The small community of Valle Crucis is North Carolina’s first rural historic district and is where you’ll find the Original Mast General Store and the Mast Store Annex.

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Story behind the store logo

Legend says that a large tract of land in the Watauga River bottom was traded for a dog, a rifle, and a sheepskin in the late 1700s. Land was plentiful, but a working rifle, a well-trained dog, and a hide to keep you warm were much desired. Speculation on land in the 1700s and early 1800s brought many to the mountains and one of those was Henry Taylor, who arrived in Valle Crucis around 1851.

 

It is said that Henry Taylor would sweeten the deal for land by including a Seth Thomas clock as an incentive. Taylor established a small store before the Civil War that was known as the Taylor and Moore Company. It was located across the road from the present day Mast General Store.

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Legend says that a large tract of land in the Watauga River bottom was traded for a dog, a rifle, and a sheepskin in the late 1700s. Land was plentiful, but a working rifle, a well-trained dog, and a hide to keep you warm were much desired. Speculation on land in the 1700s and early 1800s brought many to the mountains and one of those was Henry Taylor, who arrived in Valle Crucis around 1851.

 

It is said that Henry Taylor would sweeten the deal for land by including a Seth Thomas clock as an incentive. Taylor established a small store before the Civil War that was known as the Taylor and Moore Company. It was located across the road from the present day Mast General Store.

Taylor’s home, which is across the road from the Mast Store, would also serve as a boarding house for “drummers,” or salesmen, that would visit the area selling their goods, as well as other boarders, who came to the mountains to enjoy their favorable temperatures. As the number of residents increased, he needed to have a larger store. In 1882/83, he built the first room of the Taylor General Store. Henry Taylor passed away in 1899, but his son C.D. Taylor continued to operate the store.

William Wellington Mast, another of the valley’s prominent figures, purchased half interest in the store from the Taylor family in 1897. He and C.D. (Charles D., “Squire”) Taylor continued to operate the Taylor and Mast General Store until 1913, when Mast became the sole owner. The store had everything from “Cradles to Caskets.”

General stores provided a vital link between farmers and wildcrafters and those companies needing their eggs, chickens, potatoes, roots, herbs, and berries. When the proprietor took these items in trade, he would note in a ledger the value in goods that the barterer could “purchase” or how much would be paid against their debt. In turn, the proprietor would take these goods he received to market and use the monies from their sale to put items on his shelves.

Other needed services were often offered to the community by its general store. In 1905, Dr. Henry Perry had his office and his sleeping quarters in the room that is now called the “front room.” He took his meals across the road with W. W. Mast. He later established a “hospital,” the first in Watauga County, in the block house near the intersection of Highway 194 and Broadstone Road.

In 1909, the Watauga Supply Co. (later renamed the Valle Crucis Company) was opened just 2/10s of a mile down the road. How could a small community like Valle Crucis support two, rather large, general stores? Business was good and the community was swarming with activity. Travelers would come and spend weeks at a time at the Taylor House, the Baird House, the Mast Farm, and other homes that took in boarders. The Valle Crucis Mission School was taking students and boarders. The store was located along the Caldwell & Watauga Turnpike linking the Piedmont of North Carolina to East Tennessee. Valle Crucis was also near the terminus of the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad (known affectionately as Tweetsie).

Each store’s inventory was just a bit different and competition was generally friendly.

The Mast General Store was operated by members of the Mast Family into the early 1970s. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in April of 1973 where it is noted as one of the best remaining examples of an old country general store. In the 1970s, it was sold to a professor at Appalachian State University and a surgeon from Atlanta, Georgia. They modified the store’s inventory hoping to cater to a different demographic. The store passed through several owners and closed its doors, only for the winter season, in November 1977. Unfortunately, the store remained closed the following spring.

A couple from Florida with North Carolina and Virginia roots learned that the old store was for sale, so they purchased it in 1979. They packed their young family in the car along with everything else they owned and moved to the mountains in early 1980.

John and Faye Cooper worked with long-time vendors to add items to the store’s inventory that would be important to the community and would have been found on the store’s shelves in the past. The store re-opened on June 6, 1980. With an eye toward historic preservation and a knack for commerce, the Mast Store once again became the center of the Valle Crucis community. During the time that the store was closed, the community’s post office was lost. To a rural community, the post office is integral to its very existence. Members of the community approached the Coopers and asked them to try to get postal service returned to Valle Crucis. On October 4, 1980, Valle Crucis was given back its identity as a community with a contracted station of the Banner Elk Post Office. Today, you can still mail a letter at the corner post office, warm up by the pot-bellied stove, and enjoy a 5¢ cup of coffee (paid for on the honor system).

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Plan your visit to The Original Store

The community of Valle Crucis is the state’s first rural historic district. Winding out its curvy road passed pastures, barns, and the Watauga River will slow you down just enough to enjoy some time in the catbird seat on the back porch of the Original Store. While you’re there, take a little time to discover the galleries, farms, restaurants, and B&Bs just around the corner.
The community of Valle Crucis is the state’s first rural historic district. Winding out its curvy road passed pastures, barns, and the Watauga River will slow you down just enough to enjoy some time in the catbird seat on the back porch of the Original Store. While you’re there, take a little time to discover the galleries, farms, restaurants, and B&Bs just around the corner. Read less ...
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area-events

AREA EVENTS

Oct 07, 2022

Event:
First Friday Art Crawl
TIME:
5:00 PM
Place:
Downtown Boone

Oct 15, 2022

Event:
Valle Country Fair
TIME:
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Place:
122 Skiles Way, Banner Elk, NC 28604
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