Metcalf Mill

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: About 1880 to 1988
Location: Weaverville, Buncombe County, NCmap
Surnames/tags: Metcalf, Howie, Shepherd Forks_of_Ivy, Buncombe_County
This page has been accessed 968 times.

The Metcalf Mill was a familiar landmark for many of us who grew up in north Buncombe County. It was located on what is now Bartlett Road at the Forks of Ivy, on the bank of Big Ivy Creek just a short distance east of where Bartlett Road intersects the Old Mars Hill Highway and where Big Ivy Creek joins Little Ivy Creek to flow on toward the French Broad River. The intersection of Bartlett Road and Old Mars Hill Highway also marks the boundary between Buncombe and Madison Counties.

Three different mills occupied the site over two centuries. An old mill[1] dating back to the 19th century was washed away in a flood in the early 20th century.

Another mill was built at the site and operated by Oscar Duckett and Zeb Foister at different times.

Ossie Vernon Metcalf purchased that mill from Zeb Foister in the mid 1930's. He tore it down and replaced it with a new mill (the one shown in the photo) around 1937.

A great challenge of the construction project was to find a skilled millwright who could build the elaborate wooden chutes required to move the grain, meal, and flour around the building during the processing. While ordinary carpenters were available for a labor cost of one dollar per hour, a good millwright commanded ten dollars per hour.

During World War II, the mill went out of service, but afterward was revived by Ossie's son W. D. Metcalf who operated it for seven years more. During this period the mill ground as much as 600 bushels of corn per week and distributed the bagged corn meal to grocery stores all over western North Carolina. The mill used water power primarily, but kept a diesel engine for use in times of low water.

Later, the mill was operated by Paul Ramsey, and after that by Tony Roberts. The building was destroyed in a fire lit by vandals in 1988. See the report in the Madison News Record.


  1. John Angus McLeod mentioned "Metcalf Mill" in describing how timbers for the 1850's construction of what became Mars Hill College were "hauled up Little Ivy to the Pritchard Place, or Metcalf Mill [emphasis added], and by the Alfred Sprinkle place to the present Mars Hill", page 19 in his book From These Stones, Mars Hill College Press, 1955.

[This account is based on a telephone interview of W. D. Metcalf, by Dwight Childers, 27 Dec 2007.]

Memories: 2
Enter a personal reminiscence or story.
From Phena Shepherd Howie, as told to Dwight Childers:

In 1942, Phena was being courted by Doyle Howie, who had traveled from east Buncombe County to see her at her family home east on Hobson Branch. After Doyle had met the family, he and Phena wandered down the road for some private talk. They sat on the little porch on the front of the mill and chatted. There he proposed marriage and Phena accepted (subject to the approval of her parents). It all worked out and they were together until death took Doyle decades later.

posted 11 Sep 2020 by Dwight Childers   [thank Dwight]
When I was about 15-16 years old, I would walk by this mill every week on my way to a piano lesson by Mrs. Rachel Smith who lived up the hill in the parsonage of Forks of Ivy Baptist Church.
posted 21 Sep 2017 by Dwight Childers   [thank Dwight]
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