north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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     In 1952 journalist LeGette Blythe met Dr. Mary Martin Sloop, then almost eighty years old, and they collaborated on Miracle in the Hills, her life story. The book, the winner of the Mayflower Cup, was in large part the story of Crossnore School, which remains as her legacy on seventy-two acres in Avery County.

     The daughter of a mathematics professor at the University of North Carolina and at Davidson College, Sloop was educated at Statesville Female (later Mitchell) College and the North Carolina Medical College. Being the sole female in her class and not permitted to work with cadavers, she could not finish her training in this state and transferred to the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia. She did meet her husband Eustace Sloop while in school in Charlotte and they wed in 1908. “Both tough as pine knots,” they moved to Plumtree and in 1911 to the mountain village of Crossnore.

     Dr. Mary Martin Sloop founded Crossnore because of the deficiencies of the public school system. As local schools improved, Crossnore’s mission altered to serve orphans and children from broken homes (in excess of 3,000 children over time). Today it is licensed to serve sixty-eight boys and girls, most of school age from the mountains and foothills. Dr. Eustace Sloop founded the local hospital and power company. His wife worked to reduce through education the problems of child brides and illegal liquor. She worked on behalf of the Good Roads Movement. In 1951 she was named American Mother of the Year. In 1928, with Frances Goodrich, Olive Dame Campbell, and Lucy Morgan, she organized the Southern Highlands Handicrafts Guild.

     The Weaving Room at Crossnore, begun in 1920, played an important role in the revival of Appalachian handicrafts. The crafts program is similar to that offered at Penland School. Of students’ craft work, Dr. Sloop said, “It is their character building qualities which concern us most at the school.” The products have also strengthened the finances of Crossnore School.


References:
Mary T. Martin Sloop (with LeGette Blythe), Miracle in the Hills (1953)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 364 -- sketch by John C. Inscoe
Howard E. Covington Jr. and Marion A. Ellis, eds., The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000 (2002)
Allen H. Eaton, Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands (1937)
Philis Alvic, “The Weaving Room at Crossnore,” Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot (Fall 1996)
The State (March 1996)
Our State (October 1996)
Crossnore School pamphlets
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