Burnsville Town Square








1834 Town Square

In 1834, John “Yellow Jacket” Bailey gave land to the state of North Carolina to create a Public Square for the new town of Burnsville.  Later, the Yancey County Courthouse was built in the center of the Square.  In 1908, a new courthouse was constructed across the street (the building that now houses Burnsville Town Hall).  The statue of Otway Burns was placed in the middle in 1909.  Today Burnsville Town Square still serves as a gathering place for the community.

Burnsville Town Hall

Yancey County Courthouse









After he retired from the sea, Otway Burns served 14 years in the NC State Legislature.  In 1833, at the cost of his own political career, he cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of creating new western counties, including the establishment of Yancey County.

Otway Burns Statue

The statue of Captain Otway Burns, commander of the Snap Dragon sailing ship during the War of 1812, was placed on Burnsville Town Square in 1909.  Burns was a privateer who wreaked havoc on British ships during the war.  






In 2014, Burnsville Town Square won the People’s Choice Award in the Great Public Places contest in North Carolina.


























From early spring through the Christmas holidays, there are special events held each month on Burnsville Town Square.

John “Yellow Jacket” Bailey

This gravemarker belongs to John “Yellow Jacket” Bailey and his wife, Lovada.  Bailey conveyed the land to the state to create the new town of Burnsville in 1834 with the request that it be named in honor of Otway Burns, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the state legislature to permit new western counties to be formed in the North Carolina mountains.  






John and Lovey Bailey are buried next to their children on a hill above the Toe River near the community of Relief.

Built in 1908

In 1908, a new two-story courthouse was built on West Main Street, now Burnsville Town Hall.  

When it first opened on the corner of West Main Street in 1908, court was held upstairs near the judge’s chambers.  There was also a cell for prisoners, and at one time, the local office of the draft board was located here.  The clock tower was placed on top of the building later, after the original cupola was moved to the new courthouse during construction. 

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and still houses town administrative offices, Burnsville Police Department, and the Mayor’s office.  


Yancey County Courthouse

The Yancey County Courthouse opened in 1965, across from the east side of Burnsville Town Square. Today it serves the community as the state courthouse, and houses administrative offices and agencies, and the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department.