By Jesse Wood
The space of the future “Corner on Main” park in downtown Banner Elk continues to evolve as funding allows. Just a few months ago, a vacant building occupied the corner of Main Street and Shawneehaw Avenue. Now, the area is a greenspace with a brand-new stone clock tower.
“It’s wonderful. Everyone has commented on it and everyone loves it,” Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly said. “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.”
On June 24 at 1:30 p.m., the Town of Banner Elk will hold a dedication for the clock. Elk River resident and donor Elaine J. Wold will be present and the public will be able to view an artist rendering of what the park will look like once completed.
“The clock plays a myriad of different tunes and it will be at that point that we’ll be firing it up for the first time with some songs,” Lyerly said, noting that the dedication event will move to the town commons nearby for cookies, lemonade and entertainment.
In a release announcing the project last October, the town noted that the privately-funded “Corner on Main” park would have 26 design features and that Wold “kicked off the process by making a donation to fund the clock tower.”
Design plans for the park also include a covered colonnade seating area with benches, brick paver pathways, planter beds, a rock retaining wall, lamp posts and an elk statue across Main Street near the Chamber of Commerce.
This project is part of the downtown revitalization made possible by Wold’s donations.
A few months after the town acquired the historic Banner Elk School for $1 million from Avery County in 2014, Lyerly announced Wold’s $100,000 donation to focus on the beautification and streetscaping near the school.
Last fall, just in time for the Woolly Worm Festival, the Town of Banner Elk finished a beautiful circular landscape/streetscape of rock and flowers around the Elk Statue across from Banner Elk Café. This area is an entrance to the old school grounds. Lyerly also noted that the town is in the process of completing the fence line near the elk and adding more brick once the wet weather fades.
Wold also donated money for the Town of Banner Elk to be able to buy that now-demolished building and turn the land into a greenspace with a stone tower clock.
Downtown Banner Elk continues to liven up. With the addition of Ensemble Stage, the Historic Banner Elk School is now nearly filled to capacity. The theatre will open for summer performances in on June 16 with The Star Spangled Girl. Other tenants include Carolina Mountain Life publication, a book exchange, Buckhead Banner Studios (photography), an art co-op and more.
It’s a big deal,” Lyerly said of Ensemble Stage making its home in Banner Elk. “They are going to be a true asset for Banner Elk and it seems to be a good fit for each other. This summer is going to really exciting and we’re looking forward to June 16.”