The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts and its vision of becoming an integral component of the Town of Marion, Virginia began with a few dedicated town folk over five years ago. In an effort to save the 1908 Schoolhouse from being torn down and turned into a parking lot, a group of concerned citizens presented their dream to Town Council. The Town listened and the journey began and The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts was created.
Initially, it was to be a school that focused upon the rich musical heritage, not only the playing of music, but the making of stringed instruments, a craft known as Lutherie. This craft has a rich heritage in Southwest Virginia and Wayne C. Henderson is a Master Craftsman.
The school is named after Mr. Henderson, a guitar maker that resides in Rugby, Virginia and specializes in the crafting of handmade custom acoustic guitars. He also constructs other instruments, such as mandolins, banjos, and fiddles, all hand-built in limited quantities. Wayne was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 1995 in recognition of his instrument-making talents and has built guitars for Eric Clapton, Zac Brown, Vince Gill, Doc Watson, and Tommy Emmanuel.
As the first Executive Director of the school, I believe in creating an artistic environment where people with varying interests are given a chance to come together through song, art, nature, gardening, cooking, storytelling, writing and much more. Our school belongs to the community, it is the community that rescued the building, the community supports our amazing artisans and their projects. This region has a wealth of talented artisans, and a phenomenal history that runs deep within the mountains and hollows of Appalachia.
Please take time to visit our wonderful community. Marion, Virginia embraces its heritage and values the importance of artistic expression in all its forms. Please stay in touch as the school continues to grow, inspiring our community and inviting visitors to share in our magnificent world of music, arts, and crafts.
Catherine Schrenker, Executive Director
Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts