Wilkes Heritage Museum

A great museum that showcases the history and culture of Western North Carolina.

Western North Carolina is not only full of beautiful scenery but it also is rich with history and culture. Whether you are a lifelong resident or a visiting tourist, you experience this heritage whenever you travel the hills, listen to the music, enjoy some local food, or visit a uniquely Western North Carolina heritage spot like Wilkes Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The museum is the must-see destination for everyone interested in learning more about the history of Western North Carolina. There is a lot of heritage to see at the Museum and all the information is nicely organized and presented here at the Museum.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is located at 100 East Main Street in the beautiful and historic town of Wilkesboro in Wilkes County North Carolina; which has been recognized by the federal government as part of the Blue Ridge National Heritage area. The museum is right in the middle of the historic section of town just south of the Yadkin River and the Yadkin River Greenway. There is plenty of parking available and it is conveniently located within walking distance of restaurants and shopping options. There are also restroom facilities available inside the museum. Admission to the museum, as of 2016, is $6.00 for adults and children 5 and under are free.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum was established in 1968 with the goal of restoring the Old Wilkes County Jail back to its original 1860 appearance. Since completing this it has also restored numerous other historic properties in the area as well as growing into a first class museum that preserves the past of Wilkes County and beyond. The museum houses a significant collection of artifacts and images showcasing the stories of early settlement along with local history of military, medicine, industry, agriculture, communication, education, entertainment, transportation, and even some contraband. Each themed room inside the museum is filled with relevant items that will both educate and entertain everyone in your family.

The museum also offers guided tours of the Old Wilkes Jail and the Cleveland Log Home. The Wilkes Jail has been restored to its original 1860 state and is an outstanding example of mid 19th century jails. It is one of the few remaining intact examples in the state. It also housed, for a brief period, the infamous Tom Dooley before his transfer to Statesville North Carolina.

The Cleveland Log Home was built in the 1770’s and was restored and moved to its current location behind the Wilkes Jail. It is an excellent example of an 18th century home along with the appropriate items that would be present in a home from the late 1700’s.

There is also a walking tour that includes 13 historical homes and buildings that are located in Wilkesboro. They represent the distinctive style and culture from the times and all are included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Music has always been a big part of the heritage in the region of Western North Carolina and the museum honors this musical heritage with a number of displays along with an annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame ceremony that is hosted locally each summer. This event recognizes, showcases, and celebrates the contributions specific individuals have made to the rich musical heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Past and current inductees such as Doc Watson, The Carter Family, and Dolly Parton just to name a few, are showcased in the museum .

No museum would be complete without a gift shop filled with themed items and the Wilkes Heritage Museum doesn’t disappoint. Whether you are looking for music, jams and jellies, or a gee haw whimmy diddle, you can find it at the gift shop in the museum.

For more information about the museum you can visit www.WilkesHeritageMuseum.com.

My name is Jennifer Furr, Director of the Wilkes Heritage Museum. We are very proud of our museum and I hope you come visit us soon.

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