The Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, which was improved by Civil War general Herman Haupt, the late 19th-century Historic Murray's Mill, which boasts a 28-foot high waterwheel, and the Harper House, which showcases its intricate Queen Anne stylings, all have something in common: They're maintained and shown by the Catawba County Historical Association, an organization dedicated to preserving and exhibiting historical sites throughout North Carolina.
The Catawba County Museum of History, situated in the former Catawba County Courthouse, depicts the lives of the Catawba River Valley's original settlers and their decedents through artifacts such tools made from hand-dug iron ore, military uniforms, and hand-stitched quilts. Visitors can step back in time into the ornately decorated, Queen Anne–style Harper House, whose period-accurate color schemes, wallpaper, and architectural details paint a picture of southern life in the Victorian era. The Murray & Minges General Store's shelves are still stocked with old-fashioned toys and treats, which at one time must have kept the Murray family children occupied as their parents helmed the Murray Mill. Guests can tour the mill and imagine workers grinding corn and wheat with the tools on display, toiling away to make their sacrifices to the Corn Gods in hopes of one day receiving Fritos.
Wooden Stone's airy, 5,000-square-foot gallery space showcases fine American crafts that blend artistry and function. Now representing more than 600 American craftspeople, 100 of who are Carolinas natives, Wooden Stone primarily highlights work made by small numbers of artists at a time. The selection of finely crafted, functional artwork ranges from furniture to jewelry, and each of the pieces—composed of materials including ceramics, wood, glass, and metal—greets buyers with its own distinct feel and favorite knock-knock joke.
Unlike their mythical cousin, the velociraptor, modern-day raptors are real birds of prey that strike like death from the sky. Visitors can expect to see a wide variety of these fearsome creatures, from eagles to owls, some of which can be seen up close and personal at one of the center's several live programs and tours. On a clear day, fortunate guests can catch a clear view of the resident raptor, Emma, a white barn owl taken under the wing of the center following a series of broken bones. Too fragile to survive in the wild, Emma now pitches in around the center, raising wildlife awareness and taloning up rogue litter.
Linda Minor, a member of the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths and a former fashion buyer for J.C. Penney and Belk department stores, sells handmade creations within Bead Me’s spacious shop. Her first designed jewelry, which has been recognized as American-made by Martha Stewart, was chosen to be given to First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of the city of Charlotte, NC. She draws from her style expertise to create necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with pearls, coral, turquoise, Swarovski crystals, and semiprecious gemstones. Many of her pieces incorporate copper, an antimicrobial metal that resists fading. During fun, BYOB jewelry-making classes, Linda imparts her beading know-how to students of all skill levels, giving them hands-on practice with metal-manipulation techniques such as fold forming and reverse psychology.
Sisters and native Charlotteans Neha Negandhi and Monika Shah didn’t let respective stints in Seattle and Alaska keep them away from their hometown arts scene. Inspired by similar BYOB painting sessions seen during their travels, they harnessed their diverse experiences with event management and Alaskan train tours to open their own studio, where they encourage students of all artistic levels to tap into their inimitable creativity just as they did. Joined by an impressive cast of local artists, the sisters unfurl a calendar stocked with a barrage of painting options, allowing students to portray a sailboat with an impressionistic mast or a seahorse wearing a gilded saddle.
Drawing from the more frightening pages of the area's history, Carolina History & Haunts’ guides lead lantern-lit tours of eerie and haunted locales. The “Nightmares Around Elm Street” tour sends groups through the specter-laden streets of Greensboro, while the Beyond the Grave tour braves uptown Charlotte’s paranormal avenues to learn the fates of the less fortunate and possibly even witness a prankster ghost grabbing a dog's tail as it's chased.
Carolina History & Haunts partners with local businesses to give tour goers discounts on accommodations and food, and large groups are eligible for discounted pricing and private tours.