Courier-Tribune: Downtown Siler City is a delight

Anyone traveling about 21 miles east of Asheboro on U.S. 64 goes through the northern part of Siler City, bypassing the downtown of Chatham County’s largest town.

One drives by Oakwood Cemetery, where the town’s most noted resident, Frances Bavier, is buried. She retired to Siler City after portraying Aunt Bee on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry R.F.D.” from 1960-70.

Not too far away, traveling east, is Johnson’s Drive-In, a Siler City mainstay since 1946 when U.S. 64 was just a gravel road. It’s known, even beyond North Carolina, for its juicy burgers which you’d better get before all the meat is gone for the day.

But, if a motorist takes a detour — off the beaten path into downtown Siler City — one discovers a charming little town full of lots of surprises. “Discover Siler City” and “Delightfully unexpected” banners beckon visitors.

The downtown historic district focuses on the preservation of the structures listed in 2000 on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. These buildings were constructed between about 1890 and 1930 and include five primary residential dwellings along with the First Baptist Church and parsonage. They’re representative of the Classical Revival and Bungalow/American Craftsman architectural styles, according to the register.

And there’s an art culture which beckons to artisans and art lovers, alike. The N.C. Arts Incubator is an example, but there are plenty of other attractions, too, like the Farmers’ Alliance, offering items from hoop cheese to galoshes and in business for more than 125 years.

Murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings also offer a glimpse at Siler City’s past and present.

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