St. Nicholas will be arriving by horse-drawn wagon on December 3 for
Christmas at the Cabin (c.1888). The Heritage Site will host a Victorian
celebration with traditional period decorations and activities. Cinnamon,
bees wax and balsam will infuse the cabin with the aromas and ambience
of the yuletide season, while the glow of candlelight and the warmth of
the fireplace transport visitors to an earlier time. Tours of the cabin, music
and caroling, hay rides and a visit with jolly old St. Nick are free to visitors.
Victorian refreshments and hand-crafted ornaments will also be available,
with proceeds supporting the Heritage Site. Bring your kids and your
camera, and help SNCA kick off the holidays from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00
p.m. Music and caroling around the bonfire may continue until the fire is
The Nacoochee slave cabin, now fully restored and furnished, was
officially opened to the public at the Folk Life Festival in September
2011. It will be open for tours during most major SNCA events, seasonal
demonstrations and special events and by appointment. Visitors can learn
about the cabin’s history and the history of African
Americans in Nacoochee Valley through guided tours
and by the interpretive “laundry” hung on clothes lines
inside and outside the cabin. Interpretive tiles, one of
which features a QR Code for smartphone users, will
also enhance visitors’ experiences during self-guided
tours. To make appointments for tours, please contact SNCA Executive
Director Kathy Blandin at 706-878-3300.
Visitors saw, heard and tasted the folk life traditions of the Southern Appalachians on Saturday, September 3, 2011 on the grounds of the Sautee Nacoochee Center and Folk Pottery Museum, at the third annual Folk Life Festival and Folk Pottery Sale. The Festival theme was to show how three cultures – Native American, European and African-American - shaped the heritage of the Sautee and Nacoochee Valleys.
Demonstrators showed the Native-American technology of flint-knapping, while others showed such European skills as rifle-building, green woodworking and blacksmithing. Traditional African-American crafts such as gourd banjos, corn shuck chair seats and split white oak baskets were also be on display. Visitors to the Festival toured a fully restored 1850s slave cabin, framed by 19th century landscaping and antebellum artifacts. Andrea Chanay, docent at the Atlanta History Center’s Tullie Smith Farmhouse, offered interpretive history and stories of slave life.
More than a dozen folk potters representing 200 years of tradition passed down through generations demonstrated and displayed their work in the Nacoochee Gym. “In our Museum, we highlighted the Craven family, who migrated to the area in the early 1820s,” says Museum Director Chris Brooks. “Mike Craven demonstrated throwing pottery on a traditional treadle wheel, and visitors examined in depth the varied work of Lin Craven in a special exhibition that is now on view until September 1, 2012 in the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia.”
Festival admission was free and parking donations were gratefully accepted. Refreshments were available, and lunch plates of Bar-B-Q, cole slaw, corn-on-the-cob and watermelon were available at $8 per plate. Throughout the Festival, music of the Appalachians was performed on the grounds.
In the evening the Festival continued with a dinner concert commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. A traditional dinner of pork loin, greens, and black-eyed peas was served at 6pm followed by Civil War era popular songs performed by Yonah Brass and local vocalists. Tickets for the dinner concert were $20 for adults.
The Folk Pottery Museum and Sautee Nacoochee Center are located on Georgia Highway 255 North, ¼ mile from the intersection
of Georgia Highway 17, approximately 4 miles southeast of Alpine Helen. For 2012 Festival information, visit or call SNCA at 706-878-3300.
On May 10, the African American Heritage Site celebrated the
completion of the grant received from the Georgia Department of
Economic Development (GDEcD). The grant application was sponsored by
the White County Development Authority, with the Bean Creek Alliance
and White County Commission providing most of the matching funds.
This celebration marks the near completion of the African
American Heritage Site, with the restored 1850’s Nacoochee
Valley slave cabin as its central artifact.
The heritage site brings a new dimension to the
education mission of SNCA. In addition to adding the
story of slavery and experiences of African Americans
in the history of White County, the site offers an
opportunity for visitors to experience living history
demonstrations through the folk life traditions on display
in and around the slave cabin. Through live demonstrations of
traditional crafts, special events, guided and self-guided tours, visitors will
become engaged in interactive presentations that illustrate the history of
the valleys and the people who lived here.
The annual Folk Life Festival, coming up on September 3, will present a
variety of exhibitions of folk traditions that defined life in the nineteenth
century. Basket weaving, open hearth cooking, blacksmithing, butter
churning, woodworking and folk pottery demonstrations will offer visitors
opportunities to appreciate the skills of early settlers, slave and free. In
coming months, work at the heritage site will continue, with furnishing
of the cabin’s interior, addition of indigenous plants, nineteenth century
fencing, interpretive signage, a “heritage” garden and more. Diligent
attention to historical authenticity and close work with experts in the field
of historic preservation and with a landscape architect make the African
American Heritage Site a venue for students of history, as well as
those who appreciate the crafts.
At the reception celebrating the completion of the
GDEcD grant, a comment made by Andy Allen of Bean
Creek provided a fitting by-line on the significance of
the restoration of the African American Heritage Site.
In discussing the challenge of getting young people
interested in studying their own history and in visiting the
heritage site, she remarked that “...where we come from made
us who we are.” Framed by the Heritage Site’s landscaping and
stone artifacts, the restoration of the antebellum slave cabin on the SNCA
campus tells the story of a people whose labor contributed in countless
ways to life in Sautee and Nacoochee. As residents and visitors marvel at
Native Americans who created the Indian mound, browse through early
settler’s artifacts in the SNCA History museum and lobby of the Old Sautee
store, or picnic at the covered bridge, they may now add to their valley
memories a glimpse of the life lived by African Americans whose heritage
and FOLK POTTERY SHOW
Two of SNCA’s newest events were combined on Saturday, August
7, 2010 for an unforgettable look at living in the valleys 150 years ago.
2009's successful Folk Pottery Show returned to the historic
Nacoochee Gym with featured potters selling wares linked to the
utilitarian vessels of the past. Meanwhile, dozens of revived folk
crafts, from wood to metal and fiber, were demonstrated in and
around the Nacoochee Slave Cabin. With a luncheon meal based
on traditional valley favorites, the Festival was an experience
not to be missed.
Local musicians provided entertainment on the Center’s
grounds during the festival, which ran from 10:00 a.m. until
2:00 p.m. Visitors returned for an evening of old-time music
with Curley Maple, in concert in the Center Theatre.
Local woodworker and raconteur Bob Slack entertained
visitors to the Nacoochee Valley Slave Cabin during the North
Georgia Arts Tour on Saturday.
Bob demonstrated woodworking techniques used by yeoman
farmers and slaves alike to produce furniture, basket splits and
shingles in the nineteenth century.
New Arie Meaders Exhibit
Female Folk Potter and trendsetting artist Arie Meaders was featured in the Folk Pottery Museum’s changing exhibit for
September 2010 and will continue through August 2011. The exhibit draws from
a generous loan of more than 30 pieces of Arie’s work by Mr. and
Mrs. Robert Coston of Statesboro, Georgia.
FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL 2009 REVIEW
To celebrate the completion of phase one work on the Nacoochee Valley slave cabin
hosted an open house and Folklife Festival on Saturday, October 17, 2009. Visitors toured
the cabin and saw first hand the work that
the restoration craftsmen had completed. Folk
crafts from the 19th century
were demonstrated, and a silent auction allowed visitors to
bid on examples of
fine traditional workmanship.
Living History demonstrations of traditional folk life skills: basket making, pinning, corn
shelling, blacksmithing, woodworking, butter churning & much more; a raffle for craft items;
traditional music with old time tunes; and for a nominal fee traditional food cooked over an
open fire was served. Plans are to make Folkklife Festival an Annual Valley Event!
Preserving African American History
in Nacoochee Valley
Andy L. Allen, Lester Richardson,
Leona Dorsey, and other Bean Creek and Valley residents are working
with SNCA representatives to establish the African American Heritage Site. Dedicated
volunteers are working closely with professional consultants, and
significant donors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous, are
providing the “where-with-all.”
grasped the unique potential of the African American Heritage Site
from its inception and provided seed money for the project and
funds for moving the cabin. Roberta’s commitment
to crossing the racial divide dates to 1967, when she broke social
norms and color barriers in Milledgeville, volunteering to teach
at Carver, a black-segregated elementary school. Her investment in
preserving the history and heritage of the Bean Creek Community is
clearly consistent with the mission of the Sautee Nacoochee Community
Association, which was founded by her husband Bill Crittenden and
other visionaries more than twenty five years ago.
Gregory New supports
the promise of preserving and sharing this important aspect of
Valley history which was inspired by the Johnston’s
gift of the slave cabin. His mother Teresa “Kel” New
was a driving force and founding member of the SNCA History Museum.
Gregory appreciates the emphasis placed on paying scrupulous attention
to authenticity, and he applauds the involvement of professional
consultants in the project. In addition to promoting an understanding
of the legacy of slavery in the Sautee and Nacoochee valleys, Gregory
envisions opportunities to illustrate the skills and technologies
used by all Valley residents in this 19th Century frontier community.
the central theme at the African American Heritage Site is the
untold story of slavery in Nacoochee Valley, common bonds and threads
run through the lives of black and white Valley families. Similar
tools and utensils, crafts and skills, agricultural and industrial
technology, and animal husbandry techniques were common to all,
regardless of class or race, during the mid-1800s. Elizabeth Etheridge
recalls the rhythmic tap and ping of metal hammers heard at many
blacksmith shops in the area. The tools and bellows from the blacksmith
shop on her family’s farm were donated to the SNCA History
Butter churning was one of Gregory’s chores as a
remained so until I figured out that shaking the cream-enriched
clabber in a two quart Mason jar was vastly more efficient than
to Gregory, “The slave owners (and whites generally) had
much the best of it, but we cannot assume the touring student will
know that they did not have the remotest access to the cornucopia
of goods that have evolved to replace the primitive technology
characteristic of the period when slavery prevailed.”
Allen, whose great-grandmother Mary Ann was a slave, is deeply
committed and involved in all aspects of this ambitious project.
She chaired the SNCA Heritage Team and is determined to see the
African American Heritage Site successfully established and sustained
for subsequent generations of visitors and school children. Inspired
by Gregory’s endowment of the SNCA History Museum and encouraged
by Roberta’s generosity, Andy and other members of the Bean
Creek Alliance decided to establish an endowment for the Heritage
Preserve at the North Georgia Community Foundation. Gregory heartily
endorsed the fledgling organization’s move and matched the
gift. This investment is significant for the African American Heritage
Site and a substantial and symbolic commitment by the Bean Creek
participants. Legacy gifts will help the endowment grow and support
the African American Heritage
Walter Daves and Chris Brooks performed traditional
music for students at the African American Heritage Site. Chris, Director of the Folk Pottery Museum
and interpreter of folk life skills (on banjo) told the students
about the history of musical instruments in African and slave culture.
Walter Daves (on fiddle), a talented member of several local musical
groups, plays for Contra Dances at the old Nacoochee Gym and serves
on the SNCA Board of Directors.
Bean Creek resident and White County School bus driver Andy Allen
watched as Barry Stiles demonstrated the skill of blacksmithing
on a portable forge for Nara Allen’s class of fifth graders
at the Heritage Site. The craftsman and the students made metal
hooks, both decorative and utilitarian.
Nara Allen used traditional methods, technology, and experiential
education to teach twenty two students about slavery in American
history. Nara holds butter churned by students. SNCA volunteer
Lark Hutto encouraged each student to take a turn with the wooden
Sautee Valley resident, craftsman and interpreter Bob Slack demonstrated
the craft of basket making with white oak splits. Students learned
about the froe, the maul, and various other tools as they watched
Bob weave the bottom and sides of a split oak basket like those
used by the slaves and early settlers.
During their first visit, students took turns on a two-man cross
cut saw, watched shingles being made, and learned about the lives
and skills of slaves in NEGA.
Heritage Site & Cabin Restoration
Stone mason David Vandiver built piers to support the cabin using rocks from
the original site. Before he reassembles the chimney
and hearth, Vandiver will construct a portion of the “emancipation
wall” along an embankment that leads to the cabin
and other exterior exhibits. Barry Stiles used white oak logs
and traditional tools to replace rotted sills with hand-hewn
timbers. The broad axe he used was made in 1860. As funds
are available, the careful and costly restoration of the Slave Cabin
(c. 1850) will continue with scrupulous attention to detail and
authenticity. Once the Slave Cabin is restored and major supporting exhibits
are in place, the Heritage Site will become
accessible to Valley residents, visitors and school groups.
Most of you are aware of SNCA's plans for a Heritage Site to commemorate
African-Americans who labored as slaves in the Sautee and Nacoochee
Valleys. The focal point of the Site will be the rustic slave
cabin that was given to us by Jim and Courtney Johnston. The cabin
was moved several hundred yards from the Johnston's property down
Highway 17 to the Heritage Site, located on a scenic bluff
overlooking the Nacoochee Valley.
Slave Cabin is ready to leave for it's
Power lines on Hwy 17 need to be lifted
for the Slave Cabin to pass under.
Backing the Slave Cabin down into the
The Slave Cabin is safely in place at
it's new permanent home.
David Looper only needed a few minutes on
November 2 to move the Slave Cabin a few hundred yards to
its new site overlooking Nacoochee Valley, just west of the
Sautee Creek Bridge. After the cabin was safely resting on
its new foundation, Bean Creek History Project Coordinator
Caroline Crittenden told enthusiastic spectators, It
only took three years and 15 minutes, while SNCA member
Barbara Williams correctly noted, This is just the beginning,
not the end.
Craftsman Barry Stiles is using traditional methods
and materials in replacing rotten wood in the cabin. Making
a hand hewn beam with a broad axe dupli-cates the texture
of the original timber and provides an appreciation of the
labor, skills, and tools of the mid 19th century. Hand split
white oak shingles will replace the tin roof before rock mason
David Vandiver reassembles the stone chimney and fire-place.
While the cabin restoration is underway, tours of the Heritage
Site will be by appointment only.
The photos above document the move. The relocation of the cabin
to its new home is a landmark event in the development of the Heritage
Site and represents a tremendous amount of work that has been done
to get to this point by Caroline Crittenden, Barry Stiles, and the
supporters and volunteers of the Bean Creek History Project. Due
to safety concerns as work continues on restoring the cabin and
preparing the Heritage Site, visitors will be allowed by appointment