The town of Boone is steeped in early American history. The year 2022 marks 150 years since Boone was incorporated, but the Blue Ridge Mountains in this area have been captivating visitors for several hundred more than that, at least. Daniel Boone spent his early life exploring the North Carolina frontier around Boone, inspiring its eventual name. Famed playwrights, poets, actors, and musicians have walked the town’s streets through the years. One of the oldest Black communities in Western North Carolina still remains near Boone’s downtown district.
Take a stroll through Boone's lively downtown, stopping at several significant markers and landmarks to truly get a feel for the history that’s taken place here.
Start at the Jones House Cultural Center
Pick up a paper copy of the Historic Downtown Boone Walking Tour and map right in the center of King Street downtown at the Jones House. The entire tour includes 27 stops along a 1.3-mile loop. The Jones House was built as a residence and office by Dr. John Walter Jones in 1908. The house still holds some of its original owners’ furniture, and functions today as a gallery and gathering space for community members & visitors.
* Every Thursday evening, from 7 - 10 pm, the Jones House hosts Old-time Jams with local and visiting musicians. Guests are welcome to hang out and enjoy the traditional music or join in with their own instruments.
Walk to the Downtown Boone Post Office
Take a right onto King Street from the Jones House and pass by Mast General Store, also known as the Old Boone Mercantile. Stop in for popcorn and old-fashioned soda pop, and take a look at the giant candy barrels. Just past Mast Store, sit on the bench next to Doc Watson’s bronze statue and get a picture with the bluegrass legend’s likeness. The Post Office, constructed in 1940, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features its original mailboxes and a beautiful mural of Daniel Boone inside, painted by Alan Tompkins.
Remember the Chocolate Bar on the way to Watauga County Library
Turn right, up Linney Street, passing the old Linney House and Law Office on your left, and cross Queen Street to visit the former location of The Chocolate Bar. Now Austin and Barnes Funeral Home, The Chocolate Bar was a thriving black-owned café and meeting place for the Junaluska Community back in the 1940s and 50s. Just next door, in front of the Watauga County Library, is a new marker dedicated to the Junaluska community’s continuing impact on the town.
*Pick up a copy of Junaluska: Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community at Foggy Pine Books after the walking tour (keep walking past the Appalachian Theatre) to read first-hand accounts about what it was like growing up in the once-segregated neighborhood.
Visit the County Courthouse & Daniel Boone Trail Marker
Follow the map for the walking tour back to King Street to head to the County Courthouse. Walk halfway up the stairs next to the courthouse (look for the flagpoles) to view the North Carolina Daniel Boone Heritage Trail Marker.
Stoneman’s Raid Marker
Read about the raid by General Stoneman during the Civil War at this Marker in front of the Watauga County Courthouse.
Stop in for a bite at Proper - the former County Jail
Cross King Street and head down Burrell Street to continue walking through Boone’s history. Proper is one of Boone’s “Hidden Gem” restaurants, serving classic Southern dishes and handcrafted desserts using local ingredients. The building is the oldest surviving governmental building in the county, and also happens to be the former Watauga County jail from 1889 to 1927. Make a reservation for dinner to check out the interior with the original steel-case door frame and messages carved by prisoners.
Daniel Boone’s Monument
Continue down the hill to Rivers Street and safely cross the road to see the Daniel Boone Monument at Rivers Street Park. The monument is a recreation of a similar version built in 1912 which marked the location of the cabin that Daniel Boone would often utilize during hunting expeditions in the area. A statue of Daniel Boone with his hunting dogs is located a short distance further down Rivers Street.
Beasley Media Complex - formerly Boone Bus Station
Keep walking down Rivers Street and turn left at Depot Street. The Beasley Media Complex, now home to the Appalachian State University radio station, was once the location of the Boone Bus Station.
Ned Payne Austin’s Star
Head back up the hill to King Street between two historic blocks of businesses, where the Watauga Veterans Memorial and Ned Payne Austin’s star can be found. Ned Payne Austin was an American television and film star who also happened to star as Daniel Boone during the first three seasons of Horn in the West in Boone back from 1952 to 1954.
The Appalachian Theatre
The Appalachian Theatre’s iconic 1920’s Art Deco marquee and architecture were recently fully restored, with the theatre reopening for live performances in 2019. Check online for the current schedule and buy tickets to an upcoming show for a chance to explore inside!
Those 10 stops only cover a small taste of Boone's incredible past. There are plenty more historic places to visit in the town, including Hickory Ridge Living History Museum and the Horn in the West Outdoor Drama. The museum and show are located at Daniel Boone Park in the center of Boone with characters dressed in period clothing, allowing you to be truly immersed in American Revolutionary times. Horn in the West, celebrating its 70th season in 2022, runs Tuesday - Sunday from July 1 to August 13.