A small Madison County town, Marshall, NC is an enclave of artists that’s in the midst of a renaissance.
Marshall, population 800, is the Madison County seat and sits on the banks of the French Broad River some 20 miles north of Asheville. Marshall’s Main Street offers signs of the town’s unique blend of old and the new. There’s a bookstore and numerous cafes, galleries, antique shops, and eateries.
The epicenter of local arts are the Marshall High Studios, a former high school on Blannahassett Island in the middle of the French Broad River that’s connected to downtown by a bridge. The building, which dates to 1925, was renovated and reopened in 2007 as a home for 28 artist studios. In addition to hosting working artists who specialize in numerous different media, the 28,000-square-foot facility hosts regular classes, exhibitions, and performances.
“You know, I’m real fortunate to live in a community where everybody’s an artist of some sort,” said Joel, owner of Zuma Coffee on Main Street. “It made way for a lot of new people to move here and to become part of the community.”
Another Main Street mainstay is The Depot, an old-timey general store. It’s a great community shopping spot that doubles as a performance venue on Friday nights, when local musicians strike up a soundtrack of traditional bluegrass and country music. The Madison County Arts Center, also on Main Street, presents regular exhibitions of both traditional and contemporary art.
A couple of blocks away is the volunteer-run French Broad Institute (Of Time and The River). “The FBI,” which was opened in 2007 in a former Methodist church built in 1912, served the community “by providing a forum for curated collaborations, multidisciplinary performances,” and “an investigative think tank for reimagining the relationship between traditional and avant-garde arts, and between the time-based arts and the natural sciences.”
“I love that it’s growing very slowly and very organically, and that it happens through the people,” said Joel. “There’s a real impetus on keeping it community based. So, I see it still continue to grow in this pattern and becoming a real living community, as opposed to a tourist community.”
See the beauty of Marshall for yourself! Read more about Marshall, NC, see more photos, or search for homes in the area, from our Beverly-Hanks Marshall community page.