Linville Falls Tavern


Linville Falls Tavern, now known as Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant, is a historic tavern located at Linville Falls, at the tri-point between Burke County, Avery County, and McDowell County, North Carolina. It was built in 1936 and is a 1 1/2-story, eight-bay, native stone Rustic Revival-style building. It has a hipped roof with dormers and two stone chimneys.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

In 1835 Levi Chandler and Samuel Franklin settled in the “Village of Linville Falls,” building their dwellings on large tracts of land at the foot of Humpback Mountain. This area of western North Carolina was settled in the early nineteenth century by people attracted to its lush forests, abundant fresh water, and fertile valleys. In the late nineteenth century, settlers were drawn to this area by the commercial potential of the large hardwood forests. Railroad lines opened more economic opportunities leading to the establishment of churches, stores, hotels, and schools by the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

From 1916 to 1920, US 221 was extended from Marion, the McDowell County seat, through Linville Falls to Boone in the north. Development in Linville Falls began to move northeast toward the junction of US 221.

At the location of the Linville Falls Tavern, the three counties of Burke, McDowell, and Avery converge at a point where there once stood a large tree referred to as the “tri-county tree.” In a 1926 photograph, Mr. J. M. Franklin, then the postmaster at Linville Falls, is pictured standing in view of the tri-county tree. In 1929, an auto repair garage owned by “Shorty” Cashwell was located below the tri-county tree. Uphill from the tree site was Bob Franklin’s General Store and adjoining this was a summer gift shop selling authentic mountain crafts made by the local residents.  These buildings, none of which have survived, were built of stone in the rustic style. In the next few years, Linville Falls Tavern was built, as well as a garage and a new stone Rustic Revival post office.

During the 1930s, several taverns flourished in Linville Falls, including Rich and Rat’s Tavern, Culbertson’s Tavern, and Benfield’s Tavern. They were famous for their “Wild West” atmosphere and drew people from miles around to the “social” activities. In response to disturbances at these taverns, a bunker-type concrete jail was built in the mid1930s to hold the “rowdys” when there was no time to take them to the appropriate county jail. Because of Linville Fall’s unusual geographic location in three counties, North Carolina Governor Huey, in the mid-1930s, gave Justice of the Peace Romulus Franklin a special two-mile radius jurisdiction from the center of town, and thus “law and order” came to Linville Falls.

Opening in 1936 as Linville Falls Tavern, the building housed a tavern, restaurant, service station, and boarding house. A local advertisement proclaimed it, “One minute South of the Parkway on US 221. Grade A cafe. Country Ham and Fried Chicken Dinners, beer and soft drinks, Gulf gas and oil.  Its opening welcomed the town’s citizens and filled a need for a place where they could socialize and exchange news about the community.

The Linville Falls Tavern is significant in the social history of the area. It played a central role in the development of the small village of Linville Falls as it reformed around the intersection with US 221 during the 1920s and 1930s. Taverns, such as the Linville Falls Tavern, and community stores provided a social gathering place for residents of the area. A major part of their business was the fellowship of the customers. People gathered to hear the latest news, tell stories, and catch up on local events. Restaurants and country stores, such as the Parkway Junction Store, located at the Linville Falls exit from the Blue Ridge Parkway, still serve as centers of community life.

National Register of Historic Places - Banner Elk Hotel
Linville Falls Tavern
NRHP ID00001554
Date AddedDec 28, 2000
Property< 1 acre
Builder / StonemasonLenoir Franklin
ClassificationRustic Revival
WallsStone / Wood
RoofAsphalt / Cedar Shake
Significance1936 – 1950
Linville Falls Tavern - Avery County, North Carolina
Linville Falls Tavern
Linville Falls Tavern - Avery County, North Carolina
Linville Falls Tavern - Interior

Notable People

  • Franklin, Lenoir

Geography & Location

Linville Falls Tavern
25 Rock House Lane
Linville Falls, NC 28675

Linville Falls Tavern Gallery