Yancey Collegiate Institute Historic District

Today, after a community preservation project, the former YCI building continues to serve the community as the public library. 

Yancey Collegiate Institute

In 1901, the Yancey Collegiate Institute – a college prep high school – opened its doors on Baptist Hill in Burnsville. For 25 years, YCI educated the children of Burnsville and Yancey County, and beyond.  After YCI closed in 1926, the building was used for the high school, and later the elementary school. 









After an extensive restoration project, the newly renovated Yancey County Public Library opened in 2011 in the former YCI building.

Mountain Heritage Center

In 1914, YCI built the Brown Dorm for boys (left), the last of four dorms around the campus.   Students came from across North Carolina and 7 other states to attend YCI.  Today the building serves as the Mountain Heritage Center and includes the Lesley Riddle Recording Studio and home of the Traditional Voices group. 

Parkway Playhouse

The Burnsville Playhouse was started in 1947 by a college professor from Greensboro named William Raymond Taylor, who also created the School of Dramatic Arts, a theatrical education program that was the first of its kind in the South.  The name was changed to Parkway Playhouse in 1979.

The Playhouse was constructed in the old Burnsville High School gym.






1930s WPA Building

This rock building was built in the 1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration project for Burnsville High School.  It’s located on the original site of the Frank Watson Dorm for girls at YCI.  At its peak in 1921, Yancey Collegiate Institute had 350 students, with more than 80 percent of them going on to college.  Today the building houses the Yancey County Schools Administration offices.