[Note: This post, prepared originally for the NC Folklife Institute's NCFood blog, is hosted on the institute’s website, with excerpts and a link to the website posted here.]
The center of small town is not always a town hall, courthouse, or church. Sometimes it’s a pot of bubbling stew as it is each fall in Mount Gilead, a community of slightly more than 1,000 residents in Montgomery County. Although the community is small, just about everyone knows about the Brunswick stew served when Brown’s Hardware has its open house.
|A tasty pot of Brunswick stew|
creates a lot of interest.
Incorporated in 1899, Mount Gilead boasts a downtown historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The heart of historic downtown is a hardware store that has been open continuously for more than 100 years, and the floor creaks like it is even older. Known now as Brown’s Hardware, the business presents itself as an “old timey general store and mercantile,” and it is.