Valley Rewind: Harriet Styles

Todd Runkle
Black Mountain News

This week, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center celebrates Women’s History Month by honoring one of the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center’s founders, Harriet Styles (1920-2014). According to her late daughter, Martha Eloise Styles, Harriet was a woman brought up in a family “that honored the tradition of service.” Harriet was well known and well-loved throughout the Swannanoa Valley community. She was a Renaissance woman with interests in botany, the environmental preservation of Bat Cave, Scouting, the Black Mountain Woman’s Club and our valley's history. In 1976, Harriet created a small history exhibit for the Black Mountain Woman’s Club to celebrate the Independence Day Bicentennial. This would become one of the inspirations for a few Swannanoa Valley residents to start the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center in 1989. Harriet accepted the task in 1989 of putting exhibits together for the newly formed Swannanoa Valley Museum. She knocked on doors, talked to neighbors and friends, and collected the very first artifacts to help tell the history of the Swannanoa Valley. She served as the museum’s curator and director, and was a member of the museum’s board for two decades. She retired from the museum board in 2010 at the age of 90. Harriet’s legacy continues to this day in the Museum's exhibits and artifacts that help to interpret the vast history of the Swannanoa Valley. To learn more about Harriet Styles and to view many of the artifacts she collected, please come visit the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center during our open season later this year. For more information, visit our website at