Celebrating Valdese

The July 26th “Coffee at the Museum” welcomed Laurie Johnston and Gretchen Lane Costner, who featured a slideshow of photographs detailing the history of the town of Valdese.

Johnston is the curator of the North Carolina Room at the Burke County Public Library, and Costner is the executive director of the Waldensian Heritage Museum in Valdese. The pair organized the slideshow in preparation for the 125th anniversary of the founding of Valdese, which has been celebrated with multiple events this year.

Their slideshow features numerous photographs taken from their collection of more than 150 photographs, on file at the Waldensian Heritage Museum and Picture Burke, the historical photograph collection housed in the North Carolina Room. These images were incorporated into the slideshow, accompanied by Waldensian hymns, and presented to the public at the Edict of Emancipation celebration in February in Valdese.

The photographs document the entire span of Valdese history, from when the first Waldensian settlers arrived in the spring of 1893 through modern day. Many of the photographs came from the family of Antoine Grill, who was one of the first settlers and the first Waldensian photographer in the area.

The speakers encouraged those present to visit the Waldensian Heritage Museum or the North Carolina Room for more information and lists of events.

Costner and Johnson are featured in the photograph below.

Gretchen Lane Costner, left, and Laurie Johnston, right

Gretchen Lane Costner, left, and Laurie Johnston, right

Gretchen Lane Costner, left in the photo, has served as the Executive Director of the Waldensian Heritage Museum for more than 11 years. She also works as a Curator at the Museum, conducting tours for visitors of all ages. Laurie Johnston has served as the Curator of the North Carolina Room for nearly four years, where she collects and catalogues information and photographs related to Burke County, which she uses to help people research local history and genealogy.