Early motorists traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway could stop for fuel and food at Bluffs Coffee Shop and Service Station. It was one of the first concession areas to be designed and built along the parkway, with construction at the site occurring between 1938 and 1949. The property demonstrates rustic stylistic features of early park development, while also incorporating materials typically used in later decades. It continues to be a place for travelers to rest and refuel.
Bluffs Coffee Shop and Service Station is a 6-acre component landscape within Doughton Park, a developed area of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The site is directly off the parkway at Milepost 241.1. Major features of the site include the coffee shop, the gas station, parking areas, and an abandoned picnic area.
The Coffee Shop and Service Station both feature the rustic stone detailing and workmanship typical of early park development, while also incorporating materials such as concrete shingles that show the transition to more economical construction methods used in post-WWII development. The land slopes steeply away from the parkway and is heavily wooded in the rear picnic area, with a scattering of trees and along the parkway road. With no major developments since 1949, the vegetation and buildings have remained fairly consistant through the years.
The features of the Bluffs Coffee Shop and Service Station landscape were planned and built during the first three periods of Blue Ridge Parkway history (spanning 1936-1955), and therefore contribute to the significance of the parkway as a National Historic Landmark. Construction at Bluffs Coffee Shop and Service Station began in 1937, and all major features at the property were in place by 1949. The picnic area that was built in 1937-38, consisting of 35 sites, was originally designated for African-Americans.
In 1950, the wider area known as the Bluffs was renamed Doughton Park in honor of North Carolina Congressman Robert L. Dougton, a strong supporter of the parkway. Later plans for expansion and additions at the site of the Bluffs Coffee Shop and Service Station were never actualized.
Today, the site retains all major features from the period of significance. Although the picnic area has been abandoned, the property maintains its original association as a place for parkway travelers to eat and refuel.
- Cultural Landscape Type: Vernacular, Designed
- National Register Significance Level: National
- National Register Significance Criteria: A, C
- Period of Significance: 1933-1987
Part of a series of articles titled Cultural Landscapes of Blue Ridge Parkway: Doughton Park.
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Last updated: December 31, 2020