Penland School of Crafts

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Penland School Historic District
Penland School of Crafts panorama.jpg
Penland School of Crafts panorama
Penland School of Crafts is located in North Carolina
Penland School of Crafts
Penland School of Crafts is located in the United States
Penland School of Crafts
LocationNC 1164 (Conley Ridge Rd.), Penland, North Carolina
Coordinates35°56′16″N 82°07′41.9″W / 35.93778°N 82.128306°W / 35.93778; -82.128306Coordinates: 35°56′16″N 82°07′41.9″W / 35.93778°N 82.128306°W / 35.93778; -82.128306
Area115 acres (47 ha)
Built1929 (1929)
ArchitectBeeson, D.R.; Van Wageningen & Cothran
Architectural styleBungalow/craftsman, Colonial Revival, Rustic Revival
NRHP reference #03001270[1]
Added to NRHPDecember 10, 2003

The Penland School of Crafts ("Penland") is an Arts and Crafts educational center located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, about 50 miles from Asheville.


The school was founded in the 1920s in the isolated mountain town of Penland, North Carolina. In 1923, Lucy Morgan (1889-1981), a teacher at the Appalachian School who had recently learned to weave at Berea College, created an association to teach the craft[2][3] to local women provide a source of income that they could earn from their homes.[4] The center, called Penland Weavers and Potters,[2] provided instruction, looms, and materials.[citation needed] Local volunteers built a cabin and then a larger hall. In 1929, Penland was officially founded as the Penland School of Handicrafts after Edward F. Worst, a weaving expert and author of the Foot Power Loom Weaving, visited the school to provide instruction on weaving.[3][4] Worst added classes in basketry and pottery.[3]

Bill Brown, who took over in 1962 after Morgan, created a resident artist program and expanded the number of and length of the courses. There are 51 buildings on 400 acres.[5] Penland buildings were designed primarily by North Carolinian architects, including Frank Harmond[6] and Cannon Architects in Raleigh, North Carolina[7] and Dixon Weinstein Architects in Chapel Hill.[8]

The school campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 as the Penland School Historic District.[1] The district encompasses 31 contributing buildings, 1 contributing site, and 3 contributing structures. The district is characterized by one and two-story frame farmhouses dating from the turn of the 20th century, associated agricultural outbuildings, and Rustic Revival style log buildings. Notable buildings include the Colonial Revival style Lily Loom House and Pines; the Craft Cabin; Homer Hall; Ridgeway; and Beacon Church.[9]


As of 2005, Penland offered Spring, Summer, and Fall workshops in craft disciplines, including weaving and dyeing, bead work, glassblowing, pottery, paper making, metalworking, and woodworking. It also offers fine arts subjects, such as printmaking, painting, and photography.[2][4] Workshops are taught by visiting American and international artists and professors,[2][4] a tradition that started with Worst and until he died in 1949.[3][4] Academic degrees are not awarded by Penland, but students can receive college credit through Western Carolina University (WCU).[10] There are about 1200 people who study at Penland each year.[5]

Penland holds an annual Community Day in early March, when the school's studios are open and visitors can work on a small project with the help of the artists.[11]

An exhibition of works created at Penland was held at the Mint Museum.[12]


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b c d "Penland School of Crafts". Craft in America. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Hunter Library Digital Initiatives. "Making History: Penland Weaving Institutes, 1929-1938". Western Carolina University. Retrieved 23 December 2013. There is much more information about the history of Penland in this article.
  4. ^ a b c d e Fiber artist Edwina & potter Cynthia Bringle talk about Penland School. [Craft in America]. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "A short history". Penland School of Crafts. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Penland School of Arts and Crafts". Frank Harmon. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Penland School of Crafts - Phase II". Cannon Architects. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
  8. ^ "About Dail Dixon". Dail Dixon. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  9. ^ Clay Griffith (September 2003). "Penland School Historic District" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  10. ^ "Enrolled". Penland School of Crafts. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Open House". Penland School of Crafts. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  12. ^ "The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience". Mint Museum. Retrieved December 23, 2013.

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