A Look at Present-Day Mars Hill, North Carolina

Feb 22, 2022

main street in mars hill north carolina

Not to be outdone by Marshall, the hilltop college town of Mars Hill has become part of the Madison County boomlet, according to a Dec. 2, 2021 article by Linda Ray in the Asheville alternative weekly, The Mountain Xpress. She writes, “Mars Hill’s Main Street has retained its picturesque look of bygone days, with much of the streetscape remaining unchanged except for the paved roads and motor cars there now.”

The Appeal of Mars Hill

Thanks to its proximity to Asheville – a 20-minute drive on I-26 – and the county’s scenic beauty, residential home sales – as well as housing prices – are up in Mars Hill, a town of 3,000 residents. “People have decided they want to have a less congested life but still have access to restaurants and shopping,” realtor Angela Morgan told the reporter.

To capitalize on the town’s growing attraction, the community hosts gatherings on the first Friday of each month. At least six shops and businesses have opened since the fall of 2020. Among them are those with both a traditional and New Age flavor. 

For instance, Abbas Rakhshani relocated his ayurvedic, holistic health practice from a south Asheville shopping center. “I thought I would have to educate the community about mind/body wellness,” he told the reporter. Instead, he found locals “very receptive.” Rakhshani took over a former law office, which has been converted into The Yoga Wellness Center, sharing the space with a massage therapist, mental health counselor and children’s speech therapist.

In the autumn of 2020, Michele Clark and Sydney Keating moved from a kiosk to a property on Main St., opening The Wild Violet, an organic market and café. The mother-and-daughter team offers locally-sourced produce, along with smoothies, teas, herbs, and vegetarian dishes. 

Mars Hill’s old skating rink has been refurbished and converted into Mars Landing Galleries, which includes artists’ studios by Miryam Rojas, a transplant from New York and Florida. Sharing the complex is Meadowsweet Creamery, an ice cream parlor. “The sophisticated flavor combinations we do go really well with the ambiance of the gallery,” Meadowsweet’s Michael Clem told the Mountain Xpress. These exotic flavors include apple pie ice cream with cheddar cookies and lavender with lemon curd.

Another new Main St. business is Yiayia Black Sheep yarn shop, owned by LeeAnn Petropoulos, who called Mars Hill a “fabulous little community.” The shop joined Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery and Camden’s Coffee House, which opened in 2019.

To hear more about the murder of Nancy Morgan and my upcoming book, Met Her on the Mountain, check out my latest podcast with Kentucky Focus. 

Join me for a free virtual event with Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe on Wednesday, April 6th at 6 p.m. EST. I hope to see you there!

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