Visit Historic West Jefferson Arts District...

West Jefferson is a historical small town nestled within the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of northwest North Carolina. Established in 1915, West Jefferson has always held on to its small town appeal. Many businesses located in the Town have always remained local and have help build what West Jefferson is today. Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, West Jefferson gives visitors a sense of history as well as a mix of modern culture.

The first ownership of the valley that would become West Jefferson began in 1779 when North Carolina’s Governor Richard Caswell granted three hundred twenty acres to Colonel Ben Cleveland, who battled the British at King’s Mountain.

One hundred twenty years after Colonel Cleveland’s land grant, the West Jefferson Land Company surveyed the new town and fixed its limits as a square one-half mile north, south, east and west of the Virginia-Carolina Depot. The North Carolina General Assembly chartered the Town of West Jefferson in 1915.

West Jefferson developed around the Virginia-Carolina Railroad depot in the early 1900s. Before the railroad and the resulting town, a few families lived in the valley known for its cherry tree orchards. The valley is located between Mount Jefferson to the east and Paddy Mountain to the west.

For many decades West Jefferson was served by the Northwestern Railroad, better known as the “Virginia Creeper”. The railroad was the primary reason for the creation of West Jefferson, as the town became a major stop on the railway. The railroad carried mostly freight, which brought West Jefferson’s initial commercial growth. Another prime factor in West Jefferson’s early development occurred with the opening of the First National Bank of West Jefferson in 1915. West Jefferson’s Town Hall occupies the bank’s branch office built in 1962.

West Jefferson has a bustling downtown Arts District with lots of art galleries and studios featuring local and regional artists’. Throughout the summer and again at the holiday season, the famed Gallery Crawls are an opportunity for folks to stroll the streets of downtown and visit the many galleries and meet the artists in a casual open house event. The Ashe County Arts Council showcases local artists’ work with rotating exhibits and special events throughout the year. Also, West Jefferson is the site of 15+ murals that create a walking tour throughout downtown reflecting the area’s history and unique mountain character. And don’t miss all the painted fire hydrants and pedestals scattered around town.

We may be a small town, but we have a lot going on in downtown West Jefferson! Free summer concerts on the backstreet, a weekly saturday and wednesday farmers’ market, monthly gallery crawls, one of the biggest arts & crafts festivals in the high country, an antique festival, little theatre performances, annual holiday events and more!

Visit Historic West Jefferson

West Jefferson is loaded with things to see and do. Our most popular attractions include the only cheese plant in North Carolina, with a viewing room where you can see the cheese being made as well as the ever popular St. Mary’s Episcopal Church containing 3 of Ben Long’s frescos.

 The Ashe County Arts Council located in downtown showcases local artist work with rotating exhibits and special events throughout the year

West Jefferson is the site of 15+ murals that create a walking tour throughout downtown, The murals were designed and painted by local artists reflecting the areas history and unique mountain character. A walking tour map can be picked up at the Ashe Arts Center.

As part of the town streetscape improvements, the Town of West Jefferson removed 2 stop lights as well as all the large street lights. The lights were mounted on concrete pedestals that were left standing along the sidewalks. The Arts Council received permission from the Town in 2011 to utilize these 14 former streetlight concrete pedestals as a canvas to display artwork throughout the downtown. The theme of the art project was wildflowers of Ashe County. Intricate designs, detail and bright colors of each of these pedestals makes them a unique art canvas while marketing public art by local artists and beautifying and promoting the Town already bustling with public art murals and galleries. Take a stroll, can you find them all?

Another huge visitor attraction in West Jefferson is the fresco paintings by world famous artist, Benjamin F. Long IV. These life-sized fresco paintings at St. Mary's Episcopal Church are exquisite and will surely take your breath away. Part of the Blue Ridge Fresco Trail, four of these frescoes are right here in Ashe County with 3 frescoes featured in West Jefferson’s St. Mary's Church which include Mary Great with Child, John the Baptist and Mystery of Faith. The Last Supper painting is located at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Glendale Springs, just 15 minutes east of West Jefferson. The Fresco churches are open year-round and all ages, groups and buses are welcome.

Art Galleries

The Artists' Theatre

Ashe Art's Center
Ashe Custom Framing & Gallery
Broomfields Gallery & Antiques
CatchLight Gallery

Fiber Artisans' Studio

Florence Thomas Art School

RT Morgan Gallery

Ripples Gallery

Stephen Shoemaker Gallery