By Melissa Locker
April 24, 2020
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Boone General Store Home in North Carolina
Credit: Courtesy of Leigh Ann Henion

So many places around the South bring back memories of the past. They remind us of neighbors, communities, and friendships. And that was certainly the case for one family who decided that a local general store, long abandoned, was the perfect spot to transform into a family getaway.

Leigh Ann Henion, a writer and photographer, documented her family’s decision to transform a store on the outskirts of Boone, North Carolina, into their new family escape for Our State. It’s an inspiring story not only about home renovation, but of community, history, and good neighbors.

Boone General Store Before Renovation
Credit: Courtesy of Leigh Ann Henion

Henion’s husband is a builder, which gave him the confidence to recognize a dilapidated building’s “healthy bones” and the skills to transform the spot overlooking the New River, which flows through North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. For Henion herself, though, it was her neighbors’ stories and memories of the place that convinced her to buy the rundown spot and all its “corroded door knobs,” “rotten front porch,” and “several broken windows.” In fact, Southerners really do find charm in those aged and historic elements – proof that there are stories behind each and every inch.

According to Henion’s account, the store closed in the 1980s, but before that it was the heart of the Boone community with folks stopping in to the small outpost in the Blue Ridge Mountain town. “When my neighbors started reminiscing about the store in its heyday, saving the place from total ruin began to feel like a duty,” she wrote, noting that country “stores are, as they have always been, more than the sum of their parts…They’re hubs of local heritage.”

As the family started to rebuild, the previous owner’s son and nephew stopped by to see the transformation, reminiscing about the work that went into constructing the building the first time. It became clear that the store was dear to the community, and they would have a chance to see it as a gathering place again.

These days, the former general store has a new name —The New River Nest—and is open to neighbors dropping by. Its doors are open to other visitors, too, although, it’s not for folks looking to pick up odds and ends at the local mercantile, but to anyone who books a reservation on Airbnb.

Read the full transformation story on OurState.com.