It’s hard not to think about the history of Asheville with the vast array of architecture throughout the city. From Art Deco to Romanesque Revival and everything in between, it is clear the city has a past full of diversity.
A little over 230 years ago, William Davidson and his family tracked through the Blue Ridge Mountains and settled on what is now modern Asheville. A year later, in 1785, a permanent settlement was founded and in 1791, Davidson, with the help of Colonel David Vance, established Buncombe County. The area attracted other settlers and as popularity grew, Asheville became official in 1797 getting its name from then Governor Samuel Ashe. What started out with one family in 1784 grew to be a lively city with a population close to 90,000 in 2015.
As more roads, passages, and railways were completed, Asheville’s economy grew as the city blossomed into an affluent resort destination. In the 1880s, Asheville caught the eye of wealthy George W. Vanderbilt. After purchasing 125,000 acres, Vanderbilt built the Biltmore Estate. America’s largest private residence, the beautiful estate is also Asheville’s biggest tourist attraction with lush gardens, incredible architecture, a winery, stunning views, and so much more. It is a must see around the winter holidays as the magical estate is reminiscent of a family Christmas in 1895.
The grand architecture of the Biltmore Estate was just the beginning for Asheville. A remarkable collection of structures from the 1890s and the early 1900s have made Asheville famous for their architecture. Other luxury resorts were soon constructed, Grove Park Inn, Langren Hotel, and Kenilworth Inn. Downtown Asheville Historic District is full of Art Deco masterpieces, even rivaling that of Miami Beach. City Hall, the Jackson Building, the S & W Building and First Baptist Church, just to name a few, but it’s more than just Art Deco. The Romanesque Revival styled All Souls Episcopal Cathedral, the Spanish Baroque inspired Basilica of St Lawrence, the Neoclassical design of the Flatiron Building, and many, many more bring diversity and depth to the city.
After the devastation of the 1930s Great Depression, Asheville slowly bounced back. The addition of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was constructed under the Franklin Roosevelt administration, brought the city back to the forefront for tourism and provided much needed employment. Asheville then had it all, elegant resorts, outstanding architecture, hopping nightlife, and a spectacular outdoor playground to sightsee and explore.
To learn more about Asheville’s history, visit one of the fascinating house museums. Biltmore Estate is top on the list but there are many others in the area. Thomas Wolfe Memorial is located in the heart of downtown Asheville. The boardinghouse, known as ‘Old Kentucky Home’, is one of literature’s most famous landmarks. Twelve miles north of downtown is Vance Birthplace State Historic Site. The farmstead is the birthplace of Zebulon Baird Vance, Governor of North Carolina and US Senator. Be transported back to the 1830s in the five-room log house. Smith-McDowell House is the first mansion and the oldest home in Asheville. The restored mansion serves as the local history museum and has numerous exhibits. A short drive from Asheville is Moses Cone Memorial Park. This historic mountain estate on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a must see. The 20-room mansion is the centerpiece of the 3,500-acre property. Take a self-guided or ranger guided tour, enjoy outstanding views from the front porch, and browse the craft center with works by hundreds of local artists.
To enjoy all Asheville has to see, consider taking a sightseeing tour that highlights the different points of interest. Two of our favorites include Gray Line Trolley Tours and Asheville by Foot Tours. When in Asheville, we’d love for you to stay with us at Crooked Oak Mountain Inn. To check our availability, go to https://reserve2.resnexus.com/resnexus/reservations/lodging/0C26D817-55A0-4891-A218-3775063CC2B2?ID=2480 and Happy Sightseeing!