By Jesse Wood
The Town of Banner Elk held a dedication of the stone clock tower at the corner of Main Street and Shawneehaw Avenue, a new greenspace dubbed the “Corner on Main” park.
The dedication featured keynote speakers Mayor Brenda Lyerly and N.C. Senator Deanna Ballard – and the sounds, tunes and chimes of the brand new clock. In addition, Elaine Wold was recognized for her philanthropic efforts to help revitalize downtown Banner Elk.
“First and foremost on behalf of Banner Elk Town Council and the citizens of Banner Elk, thank you Mrs. Elaine Wold for your continued support of Banner Elk,” Mayor Lyerly said. “Not only for your vision but for funding the purchase of the property, demolition of the building and construction of the lovely clock tower and shrine, which is the anchor for this wonderful project.”
Wold, who has been called a “blessing” to the town by Lyerly, has been making an impact on the Banner Elk community since at least the ‘90s when, along with her late husband, Keith Wold, they donated the elk statue that adorns the downtown area.
Wold’s latest string of donations began a few months after the Avery County Board of Commissioners agreed to sell the historic Banner Elk School for $1 million to the Town of Banner Elk. Wold donated $100,000 for the beautification and streetscaping near the elk statue, which sits at the entrance to the newly named Town Commons, which is the greenspace in front of the refurbished school.
Last fall, just in time for the Woolly Worm Festival, the Town of Banner Elk finished the beautiful circular landscape/streetscape of rock and flowers around the statue, and the town is currently in the process of completing the fence line near the statue and adding more brick to the streetscape.
The town named the area where the stone clock tower stands “Corner on Main” park. This area is a new greenspace and is a direct result of Wold’s generosity.
Wold, a resident of Elk River, tired of seeing the old corner building sit vacant for several years. So she donated the funds for the town to purchase the old building and demolish the structure to build the park. Wold also donated the funds to build the clock tower, and the town will further improve the greenspace when donations from others roll in.
In addition, Lyerly thanked David Conrad, a realtor who facilitated the property sale, and Ginny Burton and Susan and Don Baker, who donated proceeds for the first two benches at the park.
This privately-funded park is expected to have 26 design features. Future plans include a covered colonnade seating area with benches, brick paver pathways, planter beds, a rock retaining wall, lampposts and an elk statue across Main Street near the Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s wonderful. Everyone has commented on it and everyone loves it,” Lyerly said prior to the dedication. “It’s really been an asset for us and we’re really looking forward to the completion of the entire park area. It just takes money.”
Photos by Todd Bush