Banner’s Elk: Ever wonder how the town of Banner Elk got its name?
The Banner House Museum is a charming spot. Hundreds of visitors to this idyllic mountain town pass by and never give it a second look. But, they should.
Built in 1865, by Samuel Henry Banner the home stayed in the Banner family for about 100 years. Once purchased by the Greater Banner Elk Heritage Foundation, the home was restored to its original condition and today contains many family heirlooms, period furnishings and curated exhibits explaining the local area, founders, and history. It opened as a museum in 2007.
Samuel Banner was a descendant of the first Banners to settle in the area. The first Banner was 40-year-old Martin Banner who settled in the area in 1848, after passing through in 1830. Banner brothers Lewis, Anthony, Edward, and John soon joined him in the valley at the headwaters of the Elk River. They pooled their talents of woodworking, tanning, metalworking, and farming and a thriving community was born.
The spot Samuel selected for his homestead on the Elk River is now known as the Mill Pond, just off Highway 184. The area was known as Banner’s Ford or Banner’s Elk and when the town was incorporated in 1911, was shortened to the Banner Elk name we know today.
One of the most interesting things I learned during the tour, was a bit of the area’s complicated history during the Civil War. Although nearby Boone was sympathetic to the Confederacy, most Banners were Unionists, with sons fighting in the war and family members hiding and transporting escaped Union prisoners.
Plan a Visit:
For a modest $5 contribution to the Foundation, you can experience a tour given by one of the volunteer docents at the Museum. Mid-June through early-October hours are generally 11-3 Wednesday – Saturday, but call and verify they are open and giving tours. Check online for their event calendar.
Banner House Museum 7990 Hickory Nut Gap Road, just off NC 184