The Birth of Tryon Arts and Crafts School

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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And all the people were stuck at home! Commerce was stopped. Schools were closed. For weeks! March, 1960. Historic times of crisis bring forth noble ventures. Always have. Always will.

It snowed every Wednesday for three weeks in a row. Big snows. Deep snows. Below average temperatures held the snows in place. The south was frozen into stillness. It seemed endless. This period was a record-breaking historical time which is well documented in weather annals.

In Boone, 83 inches of snow were recorded in a 43 day period. Around Tryon, 12 to 14 inches of snow every Wednesday for three weeks was adequate to keep folks home and businesses and schools closed. Cabin fever grew.

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As Grace Hall and other Tryon residents struggled at home alone through the weeks, an idea was born.

She reached out to the Tryon Daily Bulletin and found the spirit of support for her idea: an organization to teach skills embedded in Tryon history but fading out of practice. These skills would give people creative outlets and activities to occupy them during times like those from which the town was just emerging.

In April 1960, 200 Tryon residents met at Oak Hall, and each gave $2 to bring the idea of Tryon Arts and Crafts to life. Since 1960, our local craft school has been busy teaching craft and encouraging the spirit of creativity.

Today as we are at home because of a historic pandemic, many of our residents and neighbors are living what Grace Hall envisioned 60 years ago. Shuttles are flying on looms at home as weavers who learned to weave at Tryon Arts and Crafts School are creating woven art. Jewelry is being crafted, wood is being carved, clay is being shaped. Creativity thrives in Polk County and beyond because of the idea born from being stuck at home 60 years ago during a hard time.

Tryon Arts and Crafts School was a great idea and is a local gem to be treasured and supported by our community. Facing temporary closure of our school, TACS continues our mission of community support during hard times with internet courses, clay pick-up and delivery services, and the new Masks 4 Masses initiative.

Masks 4 Masses facilitates the distribution of much needed masks for our community citizens and health care heroes while encouraging creativity and purpose for those of us at home – and it does so with an edge of competition! It is being embraced by local organizations, leaders, artists, and health care providers. Visit to become part of this vital community support project.

Grace Hall would be proud of what Tryon Arts and Crafts School has become on its 60th Anniversary, and how it continues to be relevant to and support our community. We can all be proud!

For more information about the school, please contact the office at (828) 859.8323 or visit our website,

Submitted by Will Barclift