[By Kelly Kazek] When Sweetums and I were driving around North Carolina awaiting our time to visit the Land of Oz (click here to see our photos from the long-abandoned theme park), I noticed our local map marked the site of a Mast General Store. I’d visited the one in downtown Hendersonville a few years before and told Sweetums it was a quaint, if touristy, bit of nostalgia that would be worth a visit to buy some souvenirs.
I had no idea that the store we were headed toward in Valle Crucis was the original Mast General building, constructed in 1882.
This was no touristy site but a real-for-sure, old-time general store. The original store, which is now a multi-building complex, was to the left of the T of Highway 194 and Broadstone Road, while an annex was located in another historic building to the left of the intersection.
We parked at the annex, which included a large candy and clothing store, and walked the .2 miles to the General Store, passing a picturesque creek and quaint white church along the way.
The 1882 store itself was fascinating on the exterior: Its clapboards were wavy with age and one corner of the store leaned forward like the earmarked page of a well-loved book. Inside, the floor-to-ceiling shelves were filled with “notions.” You could find mason jars or apple butter, antique coolers filled with bottle of Nehi and Cheerwine, books, classic toys, quilts, snacks, tools, shoes, overalls, livestock feed, souvenirs and more. It also still houses the community’s post office and is a gathering place for locals.
A history of the store and a slideshow continue below. All photos copyrighted. Permission required.
Here’s what I learned online:
The Valle Crucis building was constructed in 1882 as a store run by Henry Taylor. In 1897, W.W. Mast became a partner and the name was changed to Taylor and Mast General Store. Mast became full owner in 1913. The store has remained open with the exception of its closure from 1977 to 1980, when it was purchased by John and Faye Cooper.
The nearby annex was once home to the Watauga Supply Co., built in 1909.
Other historic buildings now make up part of the Mast complex, including the 1907 Valle Crucis schoolhouse that was moved to the site and is now the shoe shop, where dozens of varieties of casual and hiking shoes are sold. Another small building houses a garden shop.