For 90 years in Asheville & surrounding areas, The Southern Highland Craft Guild has showcased the region's finest craftsmen through exhibitions, craft shops, special events, and fairs. Today, we are the second-oldest craft organization in America (second to the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts) representing 800 Appalachian makers of contemporary & traditional craft from 293 counties of 9 states. The Guild has partnered with the National Park Service for more than fifty years and operates in the Blue Ridge Parkway's Folk Art Center.
A few decades following the Civil War, America's industry was booming as the Northeast experienced economic prosperity. The rural South, however, faced unemployment, loss of farmland and businesses, and increased depression. As everyday items were being produced by machines rather than the hands of the community--the art of handicraft was being lost.
On a missionary trip to aid the South, Frances Goodrich arrived in Asheville where she discovered a community of women who were still weaving traditional coverlets of local wool and cotton. To preserve this dying art, Goodrich brought their coverlets down from the mountain on horse and cart, to sell in downtown Asheville. This was the start of the marketplace for mountain art that would some day become the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
Allanstand Cottage Industries
It was in 1897, with her network of Appalachian weavers, Goodrich started a cooperative called Allanstand Cottage Industries. In a roadside cabin, once a gathering place called Allan's Old Stand, she showcased the beautiful work of Appalachian craftswomen.
Mountain Workers Unite
By the 1920s, the preservation of Southern Appalachian Craft had expanded. A conference of Mountain Workers had begun. Regional craft leaders like Allen H. Eaton, Olive Dame Campbell, Frances Goodrich, and Lucy Morgan met every year to exchange ideas, sometimes in the Allanstand Cottage. In 1926, Olive Campbell gave a speech to the assembly urging the formation of a cooperative arts organization that would educate mountain craftspeople in fine craft art and provide a market reaching a larger community. Four years later, the conference introduced the Southern Mountain Handicraft Guild with an exhibition of handcrafted work.