Historic Carson House, Marion NC

Our Stewardship of the Carson House

The Carson House was built by John Carson, who emigrated from Ireland in 1773 and made his way to the Western North Carolina frontier in search of land and opportunity. Carson married into the McDowell clan, speculated in land, became a farmer and enslaver, ran a stagecoach stop and inn, and mined for gold on his way to becoming one of the area's wealthiest citizens. When McDowell County was formed in 1842, his home served as the county seat until a proper courthouse could be built in Marion.

The Carson family sold the property in the 1870s. By the early 1960s, Carson House had seen several owners and dozens of renters. Abandoned and unattended, the destruction wrought by time and the elements had begun.

Led by Misses Mary, Ruth and Nina Greenlee, local educators and historians, along with Carson descendant Moffitt Henderson, the citizens of McDowell County raised funds to rescue and restore this significant historic structure. The house was opened to the public as a museum and library in 1964, and has since seen many improvements, including expansion of the library and handicap accessibility.

A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Historic Carson House is a private museum overseen by a volunteer board of directors. The museum depends upon donations and fundraising efforts to remain in operation. All donations are tax deductible.

Carson House maintains a unique collection of research materials and books, along with dozens of family histories in its library.  The Mary M. Greenlee Genealogical Research and History Room has been a part of the house since the early 1970s, and is constantly adding to its archives.  Thousands of family historians have found valuable clues to help them on their journey into their past.  Access to the collection is available during regular hours at no cost.  Donations are appreciated.