Historic Johnson Farm Property - rural landscape featuring a large white barn with a rusted roof to the left, a smaller white outbuilding to the right, and a white house partially obscured by trees in the background. The scene is set against a backdrop of lush green grass under a clear blue sky, with various trees around the buildings indicating spring or summer season. A wooden fence runs across the foreground, adding to the pastoral charm of the setting.
Guests at the Boarding house would do farm cores during the day.

Historic Johnson Farm

For details on our visit check out our Historic Johnson Farm Field Report

The Historic Johnson Farm Today

The Johnson Farm today consists of 10 historic buildings surrounded by 15 acres. The oldest buildings are the original farm home, smokehouse, and granary all built by Riley Barnett in the 1880’s for Oliver H. Moss, the original owner of the farm. The granary has been converted into an old one room schoolhouse to give children a sense of what schooling was like in the past.

The boarding house built by the Johnson Brothers in the 1920’s still stands next to the farm house and is now the home of Heritage Weavers and Fiber Artists of Hendersonville. They’re an organization dedicated to preserving traditional Appalachian fiber crafts and passing on fiber craft skills to the next generation. If you’re interested in learning weaving, bobbin lace, knitting, crocheting, rug hooking or spinning visit their website and sign up for classes. And while you’re at the farm, drop into the gift shop they operate. All items are hand made locally by members.

The Johnson brothers also constructed the barn on the property in 1923. Today it houses a few barnyard animals liker donkeys and goats that you can visit.

A small cottage sits on in a shaded space behind the smoke house. It’s a cottage Vernon Johnson built for himself in 1933. If you walk around to the back, you can see the basement he set up as a wood shop where he made tables and wooden toys he would gift to new families and children in the area.

Visiting Historic Johnson Farm

The farm is owned by the Hendersonville School System and operates as a place where school kids and adults alike can learn about farm life in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Tours of the house are available at 10:30 AM Monday through Friday during the school year and cost $10, but you need to call ahead to make arrangements.

Although the tour is the only way to see the inside of the original Johnson Farm house, the property remains open and guests are welcome to wander around on their own or take the self guided tour seven days a week.

There are a few picnic tables along the path behind the house leading to the barn, and there’s a short nature trail on the far end of the property. The trail has pages of children’s books posted along the path where kids can take a walk and read a book at the same time. So the farm is a great place to bring the kids for a picnic.

Volunteers from The Heritage Weavers and Fiber Artists of Hendersonville work out of the boarding house and keep their own schedule. They’ll be happy to let you have a look inside the building as well as telling you about their organization and if you’re interested you can sign up for fiber arts classes on the spot. Don’t forget to have a look around their gift shop before you leave.

The Johnson Farm’s History

In the early 19th century, Western North Carolina was a vastly different place. Where today you’ll find high end housing developments and resorts catering to out of state visitors, you once had subsistence farmers working tracts of land and small rural communities.

Internal Improvement / Boom and Bust

That all began to change in 1828 when as part of the nationwide Internal Improvement Movement, the Buncombe Turnpike was completed. Running between Tennessee and the State Road in South Carolina, the turnpike was the final connection between the Ohio River Valley and the Port of Charleston. Hendersonville sat right in the middle of this thoroughfare. New settlers seeking to take advantage of this trade route arrived, and with them large scale agriculture began to develop. Soon attempts were made at growing the cash crop of the day which was tobacco.

That’s what brought Oliver H. Moss to Henderson County from Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 1874 he bought a large tract of land with the intent of growing tobacco. In 1876, he hired Riley Barnett, a local builder, to construct a home, smokehouse, and granary on his property. Moss’ prosperity was short lived, though. By 1888 the tobacco industry in Hendersonville had collapsed, and he was forced to sell his farm and home to Robert Liverett.

Liverett farmed the land until his death in 1913 and along with his wife, Mary, raised four children. His daughter Sallie Johnson returned to the farm with her two sons, Vernon and Leander, after the death of her husband in 1896.

A Shifting Economy and the Johnson Farm

As the Hendersonville economy shifted from agriculture to tourism, so too did life on the farm. After her fathers death, Sallie Johnson began taking in borders to make ends meet.

Wealthy land owners had been traveling to the Western North Carolina mountains to escape the heat further south for years. Nearby Flat Rock had so many seasonal residents that it was often called “Little Charleston in the Mountains.” By the turn of the Twentieth Century even more city dwellers were able to afford to spend time in the cooler climates and escape the summer heat.

In what was an early example of AgroTourism, the Johnson farm became a popular destination for city folk looking to “get back to the land.” Visitors would spend their days working on the farm and then relax in rocking chairs on the front porch in the evenings. Business was so good that in the early 1920’s the Johnson brothers, Leander and Vernon, built an additional boarding house next to the original farm home.

The family took in boarders until 1958 when Sallie died. The brothers continued to live on the property and were both active in the community. After spending years doing volunteer work for area schools and as neither brother ever married, they decided to donate the farm to the Henderson County Board of Education so future generations could learn about farm life first hand.

Fast Facts About Historic Johnson Farm

Type:Historic Farm
Admission:$10 for House Tours, Free to visit the grounds
Location:3346 Haywood Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28791
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Things to do: Historic Home Tour, Walking Tour, Picnicking, Farm Animals

Map to Historic Johnson Farm