Profile of Valle Crucis
Valle Crucis, North Carolina • Population 400
Coordinates • 36°12’33"N 81°46’42"W
Country • United States
State • North Carolina
County • Watauga County
Elevation • 2,677 Feet
Time Zone • Eastern (EST) (UTC-5), Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code • 28691
Area Code • 828
Located 2 Hours from Charlotte, Raleigh, or Asheville, Valle Crucis is an unincorporated community located in Watauga County, North Carolina near Blowing Rock, Banner Elk & Boone. Valle Crucis is North Carolina’s first rural historic district and the entire community is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are many of its historic settlements and buildings in their own rights. The Mast Farm was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and designated by the state legislature as "one of the most complete and best preserved groups of nineteenth century farm buildings in western North Carolina."
The name of the town is Latin for "Vale of the Cross," a reference to a valley in the area where three streams converge to form a shape similar to an archbishop’s cross. The community is located along NC 194 & Broadstone Road, between the towns of Banner Elk and Boone.
There was scattered settlement in the region in the 1840s when an Episcopal missionary, William West Skiles, came to the area. He founded the first Episcopal church in the region, "Easter Chapel", and lived in the area for the remainder of his life. While there, he founded the Valle Crucis Mission School, which has had several purposes throughout its history and currently serves as a conference and retreat center, hosting among many other events the Jink and Diddle School of Scottish Fiddling. Skiles also founded the first monastic order within the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross. Holy Cross Episcopal Church, located in Valle Crucis, is a direct successor to Easter Chapel.
The church building, circa 1926, is modeled on a now-defunct medieval monastery in Wales and is noteworthy for its architecture. Regular services are still held at the church. The region was a significant missionary area for the Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century. This brought some degree of outside influence and progress to an area that was otherwise isolated from the rest of the state and world.
During the past 25 years, Valle Crucis has transformed from a little-known rural community in western Watauga County to a popular destination for vacationers and new residents. The valley’s scenic beauty and situation in the Blue Ridge Mountains have been major factors in the recent growth of Valle Crucis. Where crumbling buildings or open pastureland were once located in the 1970s, one can now find new and revitalized businesses catering to visitors, including beds and breakfasts and restaurants such as the world renowned Mast Farm Inn, on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mast General Store, located in the heart of the Valle Crucis community, is a major stop for visitors to the area.
Weather ranges from warm summer days and cool summer evenings to cold winter nights. Rainfall is moderate, averaging 43 inches per year. Severe storms are rare. Snowfall occurs in the winter with some accumulation to be expected several times between December and April.
The heart of Valle Crucis, including the bulk of the stores, the elementary school, and community park is in the valley, low lying and flat in comparison to the mountainous terrain of the immediate surrounding area.
The Valle Crucis community park is also a must for visitors and residents alike. The park hosts a variety of events. The park boasts one of the highest rates of participation for the population it serves in the state. Characteristics of the park include a small lake and walking trail that was, a number of years ago, expanded from one loop measuring slightly over half a mile to a figure eight that amounts to near a mile. The park is continuously undergoing improvements. The town is also host to a Watauga County School System kindergarten through 8th grade elementary school that typically has an enrollment of about 400 children from the area.