A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

[caption id="attachment_176546" align="alignright" width="300"] In 1881, a brick courthouse was built in Pittsboro for just under $11,000. Today, it’s the architectural jewel of downtown and a grand backdrop for the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

[caption id="attachment_176546" align="alignright" width="300"] In 1881, a brick courthouse was built in Pittsboro for just under $11,000. Today, it’s the architectural jewel of downtown and a grand backdrop for the

A Locals’ Guide to Downtown Pittsboro

Christmas lights in downtown Pittsboro, NC
People watch the illumination of the Fraser fir Christmas tree in front of the courthouse in downtown Pittsboro, NC

In 1881, a brick courthouse was built in Pittsboro for just under $11,000. Today, it’s the architectural jewel of downtown and a grand backdrop for the tree lighting. photograph by Selbe Bartlett/A Different Lens Photography

Before the turkey has been carved, Christmas comes to downtown Pittsboro. The Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, an 18-foot-tall Fraser fir, grown in the North Carolina mountains and procured by Phillips Farms of Chatham, is erected in front of the Chatham County Courthouse.

Community volunteers wind lights around the evergreen branches in preparation for the town’s tree lighting. Just as the founders of Pittsboro intended when they created infrastructure plans, the 1881 brick courthouse — standing at the center of four main roads within a roundabout — remains the heart of the town and of the tree lighting.

When the holidays come around, that energy radiates down those roads — square bushes and trees bordering Hillsboro Street are wrapped in lights — and into the brick storefronts that line them. Shop owners set out festive decorations and merchandise so that families can enjoy cups of hot chocolate while sitting at the counter of S&T’s Soda Shoppe or browse rolls of holiday wrapping paper and bows at Deep River Mercantile. During the season of giving, locals joyfully share their hospitality.


Local: Tiana Thurber

Tiana Thurber, owner of Reclamation in Pittsboro NC

Tiana Thurber, the owner of Reclamation, can trace her ancestry in North Carolina back to 1793, when her ancestors settled in Chapel Hill. photograph by Alex Boerner

In December, holiday decor takes center stage at Reclamation home furnishings, a yellow shiplap building that sits on a gravel lot at the end of Fayetteville Street. The shop is well stocked with Christmas items, including wreaths, ceramic Christmas trees, Santas in a variety of sizes, and Shiny Brite ornaments — a bestseller this time of year. Owner Tiana Thurber’s ancestors were among the first to settle in Chapel Hill around 1793. The Tenney Circle neighborhood in the college town just 17 miles to the north is named for her six-times great-grandfather Oregon Tenney. Thurber grew up scoping out vintage items on her family’s Orange County homestead and browsing the antique jewelry in her grandmother’s vanity. “There was a lot of history in [my grandmother’s] house,” she says. “When I got into the world, I could recognize [antiques] as items that have value.” Since taking ownership of Reclamation in 2020, Thurber has connected folks with treasures from the past. True to her roots, she maintains a large display of antique jewelry, including pieces from the Victorian, Art Deco, and mid-century eras.

Did you know? A handful of vendors rent space at Reclamation and set up their own vignettes, but any other merchandise — furniture, glassware, china, artwork, and more — is stocked by individual “pickers.”

136 Fayetteville Street
(919) 200-2176

The Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, NC

The holiday season casts a resplendent holiday glow upon Fearrington House Inn within Fearrington Village. photograph by The Fearrington House

Festivities at Fearrington

Enjoy the holiday decorations and sip seasonal libations at Fearrington Village, former farmland that was transformed into an English-inspired village more than 40 years ago. Stop in to hear Appalachian storyteller Donald Davis, experience fine dining and accommodations at The Fearrington House Inn and The Fearrington House Restaurant, find new reads at McIntyre’s Books, and more.

2000 Fearrington Village Center

Gift Local

Circle City Books & Music

Since 2012, this shop has sold used books — including signed copies — vinyl records, and CDs.

121 Hillsboro Street
(919) 548-5954

Deep River Mercantile

This curated shop features candles, clothing, gourmet foods, coffee table books, and more.

115 Hillsboro Street
(919) 542-8166

Woven baskets at French Connections in Pittsboro, NC

Shop artisanal fabrics, woven baskets, and antiques at French Connections. photograph by Alex Boerner

French Connections

In this charming yellow house, browse a large selection of fabrics, woven baskets, and antiques sourced from around the world.

178 Hillsboro Street
(919) 545-9296

M² Graphics

For a custom gift, M² can screen-print and embroider one-of-a-kind designs on clothing and hats.

106 Hillsboro Street
(919) 542-4560

Pittsboro Toys

Shop for the smallest people on your list at this store, which sells puzzles, crafts, books, and more.

15 Hillsboro Street
(919) 545-1546

Plate of raw oysters on the half shell at Postal Fish Company

Postal Fish Company serves shellfish and seafood hand-selected from fishermen in the Carolinas and Virginia.  photograph by Anna Routh Barzin

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

Postal Fish Company

Located in the old Pittsboro Post Office, this seafood restaurant prides itself on offering fish that the owner has personally procured from fishermen in the Carolinas and Virginia.

75 West Salisbury Street
(919) 704-8612

Red Moose Brewing Company

Toast to the holidays with a barrel-aged coffee milk stout at this family-owned brewery.

90 East Street
(919) 533-6409

The Phoenix Bakery

Dessert lovers can enjoy handmade cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and pastries at this bakery, which also offers a full breakfast and lunch menu.

664 West Street
(919) 542-4452

Plate of cinnamon rolls from Phoenix Bakery in Pittsboro, NC

The recipe for the most popular sweet at Willy’s Cinnamon Rolls Etc. comes from the shop’s namesake, the owners’ grandma. Photography courtesy of WILLY’S CINNAMON ROLLS

Willy’s Cinnamon Rolls Etc.

Named after matriarch Wilmetta “Willy” Mariam Sprague Jacomet, this bakery is run by Willy’s children and grandchildren, who employ individuals on the autism spectrum and veterans living in challenging situations.

35 West Chatham Street
(252) 305-9227

Carolina Cravings Co.

Try a traditional Mexican dessert — like conchas, a sweet bread with shortbread crumb topping, or tres leches cake — or pick up macarons, chocolate truffles, cakes, and more.

84 Hillsboro Street
(919) 444-2023

Carolina Brewery & Grill

Relax with a craft beer at this pub, sports bar, and brewery. In a festive mood? Try Santa’s Secret, a Belgian strong ale with flavors of dark malt and fruity hops.

120 Lowes Drive, No. 100
(919) 545-2330

S&T’s Soda Shoppe

From 1916 to 1962, this storefront operated as a soda shop, serving milkshakes and fizzy treats to the Pittsboro community. After a stint as a furniture store, the shop found a new owner, Gene Oldham, who opened S&T’s Soda Shoppe in 1997, naming it after his sons, Steve and TJ.

85 Hillsboro Street
(919) 545-0007

Lucky Bar Farm Bed & Breakfast

Nancy and Steve Adams turned their farmhouse into Lucky Bar Farm Bed & Breakfast, located at the edge of downtown Pittsboro.  photograph by Alex Boerner


Lucky Bar Farm Bed & Breakfast
Locals: Steve & Nancy Adams

Steve and Nancy with their Tennessee walking horse, Dakota.  photograph by Alex Boerner

When Nancy Adams reaches the end of her gravel driveway and looks up at her white farmhouse situated on 10 bucolic acres, she breathes a sigh of relief: She’s home. Nancy wanted to share those feelings of peace and relaxation, a gift that she knows not everyone has waiting for them at the end of a long workday. So in 2019, she and her husband, Steve, turned their property into Lucky Bar Farm Bed & Breakfast. Now, guests are welcome to stay in their three-bedroom house nearly year-round. They can sit in the rocking chairs lining the front porch, wrap up in a red flannel blanket and play with Annabelle and Georgia — the Adamses’ golden retrievers — or help Nancy feed the other animals: Cash, a Tennessee walking horse; Dakota, a medicine hat paint horse; fainting goats Rodeo, Radar, and Noah; and Wyatt the cat. Inside Lucky Bar, a North Carolina-made Buck woodstove is fired up in the Adamses’ living room while Steve prepares gourmet multicourse breakfasts and dinners for overnight guests who want to stay in. His meals include appetizers like a roasted beet salad with fried goat cheese, entrées like beef tenderloin with homemade cabernet sauce, and ice cream and chocolate chunk cookies for dessert. “Life is hard,” Nancy says. “We want to take care of people and provide comfort.”

Stay in or go out? Guests are welcome to stay on-site and enjoy the Adamses’ hospitality or drive into town for a meal and some local shopping.

291 Meadow View Drive
Moncure, NC 27559
(919) 274-2497

1907 Corliss steam engine in Pittsboro, NC

This 1907 Corliss steam engine once powered factories and mills. Thanks to passionate locals like Jackie Johnson, it was restored, rebuilt, and moved to the Silk Hope Farm Heritage Park in 2001. photograph by Alex Boerner


Silk Hope Farm Heritage Park
Locals: Jackie Johnson & Johnny Johnson

Jackie Johnson and Johnny Johnson are longtime members of the Silk Hope Club, which runs Farm Heritage Park in Siler City. photograph by Alex Boerner

A windmill wrapped in Christmas lights shines over Silk Hope Farm Heritage Park, a field inhabited by log structures — a blacksmith shop and stables, a corncrib and a smokehouse — and steam engines from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite its Siler City mailing address, the park is located in Silk Hope, a Chatham County community about 20 minutes northwest of downtown Pittsboro.

Jackie Johnson, a Silk Hope Ruritan Club member since the early 1970s, inspects a 1907 Corliss steam engine on-site. The machine, a stationary engine that once provided power to factories and mills, is a point of pride for Jackie, who was one of several people responsible for moving it to the park in 2001 and who made it run again. “His veins operate with steam, not blood,” says Johnny Johnson, watching Jackie. Johnny is also a longtime member of the community service organization that runs the park and, despite his last name, has no familial relation to Jackie.

Farm Heritage Park is most active during the club’s annual Old-Fashioned Farmers’ Days, which have taken place every Labor Day weekend since 1976. During the event, the machines are fired up and used — one provides the power to churn out creamy cups of ice cream. The event and the park’s very existence kindle memories of Silk Hope’s history as an agricultural community — when tobacco, dairy, and small-grain farmers used machines like these to make their living.

Stroll through the park: To schedule a tour of Silk Hope Farm Heritage Park, call the Ruritan Club.

4221 Silk Hope Road
Siler City, NC 27344
(919) 663-0331

This story was published on Nov 27, 2023

Chloe Klingstedt

Chloe Klingstedt is an assistant editor at Our State magazine, a Texan by birth, and a North Carolinian at heart.