The Catawba County Museum of History
offers testimony to the hardy settlers of the Catawba River Valley
and their resourceful descendants who carved a world-renowned
furniture and textile empire out of the backwoods. The story is
artfully displayed in the unique setting of the former Catawba
County Courthouse, an imposing National Register Renaissance Revival
structure built in 1924, on the square in downtown Newton.
Museum collections include agricultural tools and implements
forged from hand-dug iron ore, and handcrafted household cupboards,
wagon benches, beds, tables, chests, cradles, plantation desks, a
firkin, and miniature furniture samples shown by “drummers” or early
salesmen. There are treasured military uniforms, including a British
Red Coat from the Revolutionary War era (one of the few such coats
in existence) and a major repository of Civil War objects.
Two full-scale, original antebellum parlors have been
reconstructed and preserved in the museum, the Shuford-Jarett from
1830, featuring deft molding-plane embellishments and pegged muntins,
and the Munday Parlor from 1840, with trompe l’oeil dentils,
marbleized wooden baseboards, and a hand-painted dazzling central
medallion. Visitors can also walk through Dr. Hambrick’s 1920s
medical office, containing his ice-cold stainless steel examination
table and an extensive variety of instruments from the period.
Also on permanent exhibit at the museum is a 1930’s
racecar, which roared around the county fairgrounds, complemented
with a photograph gallery of the first race at the Hickory Motor
Speedway, in 1951.
Catawba County Museum of History
Distance: 1 hour and 15 minutes from Asheville
Address: 30 North College Street, Newton NC 28658
Hours: Wednesday -Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday 1:30 -
Allow: 1-2 hours
Catawba Science Center,
Harper House/Hickory History Center,
Hickory Museum of Art,
Historic Murray's Mill,
Historic Newton NC Depot
Directions: From Asheville take I-40 East towards
Statesville. Take Exit 130 toward Old US 70. Turn left at West 1st
Street, take the 2nd right onto 1st Avenue South. Continue onto North
Main Avenue, and turn left at East 1st Street. Take the 1st right
onto North College Avenue in Newton.