Tales of Tryon to feature discussion on Tryon Toymakers, Charlotte Yale and Eleanor Vance

Published 11:58 am Friday, October 20, 2023

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TRYON—The Tryon History Museum will present the next installment of the popular Tales of Tryon program on October 26, at Holy Cross Episcopal Church.

Author Bruce Johnson, who has just published a very definitive new book about Charlotte Yale and Eleanor Vance, will discuss the history of the Tryon Toymakers. These ladies are a central part of Tryon’s history. They came here in 1914 from The Biltmore Industries and had a close association with The Biltmore House. There was already a significant and known arts presence in Tryon by that time, which influenced their decision.

Vance and Yale were part of a social movement that sought to help the less fortunate by teaching them skills by which they might make a living. They believed especially in training young people for a skill. They set up shop, literally, in Tryon and began to recruit children and young adults to teach them woodcarving. Carvings included household items, decorative architectural features, chairs and fireplace mantles. 

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At the suggestion of Tryon resident William Gillette, they began to teach the children to carve and paint a collection of wooden toys. These toys were modeled after some that were seen in the Italian Tyrol area of the Alps. There was even a children’s novel about the Tyrolean toymakers written by local author, Margaret Morley, Donkey John of the Toy Valley.

The public is invited to attend Bruce Johnson’s talk at Holy Cross Episcopal Church Parish Hall on Thursday  Light bites will be served at 4:30 p.m., and the program will start at 5 p.m.

The author will have books available and is happy to autograph them.

This a Free Community event underwritten by the Polk County Community Foundation.


Submitted by Wanda May