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Great Road Style

The Decorative Arts Legacy of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee
Betsy White

BUY Cloth · 224 pp. · 9 × 10 · ISBN 9780813923529 · $59.95 · Jan 2006

Linked historically, culturally, and geographically, the counties that make up southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee are also connected by a shared decorative arts tradition. "Great Road Style," so called because of the region’s historical importance as a stage route connecting the eastern seaboard with the western frontier, is evidenced in distinctive forms of furniture, ceramics, textiles, and metalwork. Yet until now, the area’s rugged geography—and the isolation of its communities—has prevented systematic documentation of its decorative artifacts. With Great Road Style: The Decorative Arts Legacy of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, Betsy White takes readers on an engaging tour of an underexplored region’s striking material culture, and in doing so fosters a new appreciation of its role in the development of American decorative arts.

The first substantive effort to conduct primary research in a largely undocumented territory, the survey upon which this book is based involved thousands of hours’ worth of fieldwork conducted across two states in an attempt to offer the most detailed accounting possible of handmade objects produced along the Great Road before 1940. The eventual product of that exhaustive research was an archive of photographs, slides, and data sheets on more than two thousand objects representing diverse sectors of the survey area. In organizing and providing a narrative for this treasure trove of material, White and her research team have defined and delineated for the first time what constitutes Great Road Style.

Lavishly illustrated with compelling examples, and including a full listing of the artisans who have been identified to date, Great Road Style s a beautiful and historically informative catalog showcasing the diverse arts and crafts of this region. It will be a valuable resource for collectors, museum curators, antique dealers, and indeed anyone interested in southern culture or the decorative arts.

Publication was generously supported through a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund


As a native of Southwest Virginia, I was surprised and delighted to find this marvelous book containing, literally, all the stuff of my childhood—from coverlets to furniture to pottery. What care, expertise, and passion has gone into the compiling and editing of this necessary and monumental work!.

Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

About the Author(s): 

Betsy White is Executive Director of the William King Regional Arts Center in Abingdon, VA.

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