PROFESSOR WILLIAM RAYMOND TAYLOR, in 1947, succeeded in founding Parkway Playhouse, originally known as Burnsville Playhouse, Inc. and School of Dramatic Arts, the first of its kind in the South. A professor of English at Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (WCUNC) in Greensboro, he not only took on the arduous task of planning the courses of study for the new venture, but he planned the complete conversion of the old Burnsville High School gymnasium into a well equipped theatre. Because of his knowledge of the many fields connected with the theatrical profession, he became widely recognized as an authority, and he served as consultant on theatre and stage design for many architects.

August 1, 1947 “Claudia” opened at The Burnsville Playhouse, Inc. After producing the show at WCUNC in the spring of 1947, Professor Taylor brought the production to Burnsville with complete set and costumes. Among the cast was WCUNC student Anna Kirkman, who played the title role. One Burnsville local, Rush Wray, filled in the role of Jerry Seymoure. The rest of the cast was made up of selected students from area colleges and universities.

On May 7, 1979 The Burnsville Playhouse, Inc. officially and legally became Parkway Playhouse. The name and “scarecrow” logo is attributed to Claude “Slats” Rayborn who had spent many summers at the Playhouse as a student of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Clay Griffith (June 2003). “Yancey Collegiate Institute Historic District” (pdf). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2015-07-01.

Explore page with information and photos of the Yancey Collegiate Institute Historic District

Yancey Collegiate Institute Historic District Wikipedia article

Yancey County Cultural Resource Commission’s Mountain Heritage Center web page