News & Events

Ramsey Center to Hold Grand Reopening and Open Barnhill Exhibition

After a summer and a fall semester closed for renovations, the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies at Mars Hill University will hold its grand reopening celebration on January 27, 2016 from 3 to 5 p.m. The event, which will include tours of the renovated facility, is free and open to the public.

The celebration will coincide with the opening of a new historical exhibition at the Ramsey Center, titled "Appalachia a Century Ago, Craft through the Lens of William A. Barnhill," an exhibition which showcases items from the Barnhill Collection in the Southern Appalachian Archives.

According to Dr. Karen Paar, Director of the Ramsey Center, renovations to the Ramsey Center have more than doubled storage space for collections in the archives, increased security for holdings, made room for additional content in the exhibition areas, created additional staff office space, and streamlined public service procedures.

"The Ramsey Center takes very seriously its commitment to maintain both physical and intellectual control over the items entrusted to us," Paar said. "These renovations will help us serve the public well, while being a secure and accessible repository for archival materials documenting the history of Mars Hill University and the region."

In addition to physical renovations, the Ramsey Center will change how patrons access the Southern Appalachian Archives. All requests for materials and assistance will now take place on the Ramsey Center's main area on the first floor of Renfro Library. In this way researchers will have the same access to the archives's holdings, with greater space and security for the items in storage.

William Barnhill Reems Creek 1915 02Coinciding with the grand reopening will be the opening of "Appalachia a Century Ago: Craft through the Lens of William A. Barnhill.” The exhibition showcases Barnhill's photographs of western North Carolina residents demonstrating traditional crafts and a bark basket made by Dave Penland, a Confederate veteran whom William Barnhill visited and photographed in 1915 in Beech, North Carolina, near Weaverville. The exhibition will run through the end of July 2016.

Barnhill took the photographs in the exhibition while he was living in Asheville and spending the weekends traveling around the adjoining countryside from 1914 to 1917. He spent most of his life in other parts of the country but retained his interest in this region and in craft.

The Barnhill exhibition was made possible through the inspiration and generosity of Bill Alexander of Knoxville, Tennessee. Alexander, a bark basket maker and collector, donated the funds to create the exhibition and loaned baskets from his own collection.

Other items appear courtesy of the Reece Museum at East Tennessee University and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Matthew Provancha of the Mountain Gateway Museum’s Exhibit Outreach Program, under the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, designed the exhibition, which was researched and written by Ramsey Center Archives Associate Patrick Cash and Director Karen Paar.

Beginning February 1st, the Ramsey Center will be open to the public on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am until 12 noon, and on Tuesday and Thursday from 1 until 4 pm. Appointments at other times will be gladly given when the University is in session. Contact Program Coordinator Hannah Furgiuele for appointments or more information, at 828-689-1571 or For research in the archives, please contact Patrick Cash at 828-689-1581 or