Elk Park School


The Elk Park School, constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1935 and 1938, sits on a hilltop north of Elk Park’s business district. Rising authoritatively above the town, the school is an important surviving public building in the small mountain community of Elk Park, which lies in the western part of Avery County, North Carolina near the Tennessee border. The school is surrounded by a small residential area. The building served elementary school students of Avery County until 1999 and then was temporarily used for two years by students of Cloudland Elementary in Carter County, Tennessee, whose school was damaged by a flood in 1998. Elk Park School Road (SR 1304) approaches the school from the southwest and terminates in a paved circular entrance drive that passes both in front of and to the rear of the school building. Stone steps lead from the lower driveway to the front of the building; a wood sign supported by a square stone pillar rising from a stone base stands just to the east of the base of the steps. 

Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal era relief program, the Elk Park School is a one-story, E-shaped Rustic Revival style stone building sixteen bays wide with a large gymnasium projecting from the rear of the building. The school is capped by a hip roof with a plain boxed cornice. Stone masonry fire walls separate the central block of the building from the two end wings and rise above the roof line to form a low parapet. Other stone masonry walls, which connect the main block to the gymnasium wing, rise above the ridge line at the center of the building to form a peaked parapet. The two end wings, which extend to the north, were originally equal in length. Around 1951, a one-story, flat-roof, concrete block cafeteria addition was constructed at the north end of the west wing. A one-story, flat-roof block with additional classrooms was also added around 1951 and demolished ca. 2000. The east wing was extended to the north by two bays in 2004, with stonework and windows closely matching the original construction of the school. New stone pilasters located on the side walls obscure the joints between old and new construction.

Although Avery County was not created until February 23, 1911, settlement in the area began nearly a century earlier. Northern industrialists were interested in the area’s mineral deposits, especially iron, as early as the 1790s, but the remote area was accessible by only the most rugged trails. The settlement remained sparse through most of the nineteenth century, with small subsistence farmers spread thinly along the river bottoms and creek valleys and a few concentrations of population near the iron mines at Cranberry and the mica mines at Plumtree.


National Register of Historic Places - Banner Elk Hotel
Elk Park School
NRHP ID05001410
Architectural ClassificationRustic Revival
Date Added12/16/2005
Property2.0 acres
WallsStone / Concrete Block
Significance1938 – 1955
BuilderWorks Progress Administration
NRHP ApplicationPDF

Notable People

  • Harry Blevins

Geography & Location

Elk Park School
253 Elk Park School Road
Elk Park, North Carolina  28622

GeoHack Map

Elk Park School Gallery