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The Blue Ridge Parkway’s historic assets all serve as vehicles to the past and the region’s cultural heritage. Time has eroded many of the amphitheaters, signs, and fences that date back to the Parkway’s birth. Historic assets such as bridges, buildings and fences become weathered and in need of repair. FRIENDS brings its volunteers and partner groups in to the restoration and presevation of many of these.

These old buildings do not belong to us only, they belong to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not in any sense our own property to do with as we like with them. We are only trustees for those that come after us.
William Morris
Artist, Writer

Our adoption programs allow qualified groups or organizations to adopt a cemetery. This program assures regular maintenance and repair of the historic cemeteries inside the Parkway boundaries. The groups or organizations train with FRIENDS and the NPS on the proper safety and maintenance procedures for their assets. They are then able to operate autonomously, free to come and go in these areas as best suits their availability. Work hours and task reports are provided to FRIENDS. These further assist the NPS, alerting the them to problems which need further attention.

In past years, FRIENDS volunteers have built split-rail fences and snake fences, painted milepost markers and Parkway signs, helped renovate outdoor features at the historic Johnson Farm in The Peaks of Otter and supported the preservation and restoration of Kelley School. This important work is constant, just as a cycle is completed it must be started over to ensure these features remain in top shape.

Johnson Farm

Johnson Farm (at milepost 85.6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway) in the Peaks of Otter, Virginia is the one remaining property in the community that existed prior to the building of the Parkway. Architecturally, the Johnson Farm is the Parkway’s best example of a log home that was enlarged successively, clap boarded and otherwise modified to support successive generations of the Johnson family. It is an invaluable study of the evolution and development of Appalachian homes, representing what might be styled ‘middle class’ life in the mountains.

Additional historical information may be found in the National Park Service (NPS) Johnson Farm Historical Resource Study.

Kelley School (Pate/Ware Store)

Kelley School (at milepost 149) in Floyd County, Virginia is part of the rich history of the county leading back to the earliest settlers in the area and the Kelley family which was strongly dedicated to the service of others and the local community.

The school opened in 1876, a one-room frame building with a shake roof that was painted white. It had no running water, no electricity, and as late as 1917 there was no outhouse. The building was rectangular, with a door in the short side facing what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway. The rural school closed in 1939 and the building became the residence of Virgie Pate and her son, Herman, both of whom were former students. The Pates wanted a place to live and also to have a small ‘country store’ business. The Blue Ridge Parkway was built at this time and in the summer months, travelers stopped to get a drink, stretch and talk. The store was known as Pate’s Grocery Store and they ran it until 1972 when it was sold to Mr. O. B. Ware and his wife, Juanita Love. They, in turn, ran it as ‘Ye Old Country Store’ and kept the interior and contents in keeping with its history. Ye Old Country Store existed until 1984 when Mr. Ware’s ill health prompted him to retire and sell the property to the Blue Ridge Parkway NPS.

This historical information is courtesy of the the NPS Kelley School Historic Resource Study. Additional history of the area and the school can be found in the study.
If you’re interested in our cemetery adoption program, please see the links at left for more information and an application. There are unadopted cemeteries available and needing your help.

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