The site of the Appalachian Theater of the High Country is now a construction zone as the 1938 movie theater and performing arts center is being transformed to its former glory. The original design of the bold art deco facade is complete and shines, reflecting a new addition to downtown Boone. Within the storied interior, the addition of a 50 ft. mural will narrate the History of Watauga County from the 1600’s. John Cooper, Chairman of the new theater, along with Executive Director, Laura Kratt, were present to receive the generous donation from Regent Jill Privott and Historic Preservation Chair Mary Moretz, a descendant of 18th century early settler, Benjamin Howard. The $3,000 check was presented along with Cherokee descendants Barry Sheppard and Freda Sheppard Greene, who are depicted in the mural, along with Longhunter historical interpreter, Joseph Trivette, (courtesy of Hickory Ridge Historical Park) and the artist, Brenda Mauney Councill, who descended from Jordan Councill, the founder of Councill’s Store (now Boone).
The donation will fund one of the five panels being created. The Daniel Boone Chapter chose to fund the important Longhunter Period from 1760 to 1800. Regent Jill Privott notes that the artist researched original local characters for this segment of the panel. Shown are two Longhunters during an expedition, conferring with locals to gather information about the area. During this period many Longhunters were known to have frequented the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as did their Native predecessors. Modern day Meat Camp, North Carolina, was so named by the Longhunters since the location was the site of meat processing and trading during the 18th century.
“A local man named Benjamin Howard owned a slave, Burrell, who tended his flocks and cattle throughout the higher elevations,” Privott, who is also a genealogist, said. “Burrell gained valuable knowledge of the trails and paths to the western frontier.” The painting portrays Burrell kneeling with a map, showing the Longhunters a passage west. Lastly, the woman pictured represents the sister of Daniel Boone, Sarah Boone Wilcoxson. The last house she lived in still stands in Todd, N.C. Sarah Wilcoxson is listed in the surviving original church documents of Three Forks Baptist Church, which she attended. “The artist has captured the spirit of the pioneers in the Blue Ridge community and has represented, with accuracy, the diversity of the early Carolina Backcountry,” said Regent Privott.
John Cooper said,
We (the Board of Trustees of the Appalachian Theatre) are very honored to have the Historic Frieze by internationally renowned artist, Brenda Councill, and we are delighted to have the support of the Boone Chapter of the DAR. Their generous gift is helping to make this possible. The Appalachian Theatre’s Community Room presents the perfect venue for a historic mural depicting scenes of the Theatre as well as Boone, Watauga County, and the first inhabitants of the High Country area. We can’t wait to unveil this masterpiece with the theatre’s opening in the summer of 2019.
This is the second mural project funded by The Daniel Boone Chapter NSDAR. The first historically significant project, the restoration of the WPA era mural depicting Daniel Boone on a hunting trip in Watauga County, was completed in 2015. It can be seen at the historic downtown Boone Post Office. These are permanent works of public art that represent regional and local narrations of history for future generations to enjoy.
About Daniel Boone Chapter NSDAR: https://www.facebook.com/Daniel-Boone-Chapter-NSDAR-1653213041611617/
About the artist: https://councill.net/
About the Appalachian Theater of the High Country: https://www.apptheatre.org/