Ken Abbott’s photography and Hickory Nut Gap Farm is a marriage made in heaven, or about as close as we get to heaven here in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. For almost a hundred years, one extended family has lived on and created a uniquely beautiful farm and community in this place. In Useful Work, Ken Abbott so thoroughly and beautifully depicts the surface and soul of this home and farm, that he reminds us how the best photographers can focus on something seemingly small, yet evoke our common humanity. This book represents an extraordinary achievement in life and in art.  

– Alex Harris, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University

About ten years ago I started photographing a very special place – Hickory Nut Gap Farm, perched near the top of the eastern Continental Divide, in Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It was once known as Sherrill’s Inn, and in the late 1800s it was a busy stagecoach stop on an old trade route out of the southern Appalachian Mountains. The inn declined some after the railroad arrived in Asheville, but in 1916 a young couple in the area on their honeymoon, Elizabeth and Jim McClure, fell in love with the house and surrounding land, and bought it from the old innkeeper and his wife. read more