Montford - no one knows where the name came from - emerged in 1890 when the Asheville Loan, Construction and Improvement Company announced plans to start selling building lots north of town. Asheville was in the early stages of a boomtime that would see the population rise from 2,500 in 1880 to over 50,000 before the onset of the Great Depression in 1930. Montford spread out across 300 acres and by 1893 there were 50 or so people here when the community incorporated as a town. The heady days of independence lasted until 1905 when Montford was swallowed by Asheville and became a city district on the north edge of downtown.
Businessmen and lawyers and doctors moved into Montford - not the ultra-rich but well off enough for homeowners to mimic the popular building styles of the day and for some to hire architects. Most of the homes in Montford were constructed between 1890 and 1920. The earlier homes reflect the late Victorian era with Queen Anne and Shingle Style designs and later structures embraced the Arts and Crafts, Neoclassical and Colonial Revival trends that followed. Montford went into a period of decline in the middle 1900s and bulldozers became an increasingly common sight on the curving, shaded streets. In December 1980, the Asheville City Council designated the Montford Historic District as the city’s first local historic district. There are now four and Montford is the largest, as well as one of the largest in the state of North Carolina. More than 600 century-old structures are now protected. Our journey back into Asheville’s past will travel on patterned-brick sidewalks and we will begin in a slice of greenspace donated by Asheville’s greatest benefactor...
between Montford and Cumberland avenues on Panola Street/Montford Park Place
George Willis Pack was born on a upstate New York farm in 1831 and followed his family to the northlands of Michigan while in his twenties. In Port Huron he and his father established one of the first sawmills, called Pack’s Mills, in the Black River area. From there Pack continued to amass timberlands and lumber companies before taking his sizable fortune to Cleveland in the 1870s when that Great Lakes city ranked only behind the great Eastern seacoast cities in prominence. He soon became one of the leading citizens of Cleveland. In 1884 Pack and his family relocated to Asheville for health reasons. Pack’s generosity to his adopted hometown is legendary with influences in virtually every aspect of Asheville life. He is best known for giving the land that is Pack Square in the heart of Asheville but he also donated four acres of land here for Montford Park. The park was said to once serve up the most beautiful spring floral display in Asheville but today is more of a recreational space.
WALK DOWNHILL THROUGH THE PARK OVER TO CUMBERLAND AVENUE. ACROSS THE STREET, ON THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF CUMBERLAND CIRCLE, IS...
333 Cumberland Avenue
No grand architectural pedigree here, just a bit of Merrye Olde England rendered in brick and cast concrete to kick off the walking tour.
CROSS OVER ONTO CUMBERLAND CIRCLE AND BEGIN WALKING UP.
Applewood Manor Inn
62 Cumberland Circle
When the lots for this small enclave of Montford went up for sale in the early 1900s the deed restriction required that at least $2,500 be spent to build. That was no problem for John Adams Perry who lavished $8,000 on his one-and-a-half acre plot, hiring William Henry Lord to design a timeless Colonial Revival residence, dressed in cedar shake siding around a pedimented central hall entrance. The house was finished in 1912. Perry was a member of one of America’s most distinguished Naval families - his uncles were Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who became the American hero of the War of 1812 when he scuttled the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie and Commodore Matthew Galbraith Perry who opened Japan for trade with the West in 1853. John Perry’s father was an Army officer when he was born in Fort Leavenworh in Kansas in 1859; the sonwent on to become an Army captain as well. Perry lived here until he died in 1939.
Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn
46 & 48 Cumberland Circle
Richard Sharp Smith was born in Yorkshire, England in 1852 and picked up his architecture training on the job. He sailed to America in 1882 and landed in the office of Richard Morris Hunt. In 1889 he received the plum assignment to come to Asheville as Hunt’s supervising architect of the Biltmore House. When the 250-room chateau was completed Smith stayed in town and hung out his own shingle. He found himself quickly immersed in a busy practice, including designing more than two dozen buildings in Biltmore Village. Smith also won scores of commissions in Montford and more than any other architect was responsible for shaping the appearance of the Asheville streestscape of the early 1900s. This substantial Colonial Revival-flavored home spanned two Cumberland Circle building lots and was completed in 1908 for David Latorette Jackson, who owned the Euneeda Bakery and Dairy. Wythe Peyton, one of the state’s first highway engineers, purchased the house in 1921.
CONTINUE TO THE INTERSECTION WITH CUMBERLAND AVENUE AND SOCO STREET. ACROSS THE STREET, IN THE ELBOW OF CUMBERLAND AND SOCO, IS...
At Cumberland Falls Bed & Breakfast Inn
254 Cumberland Avenue
This National Register of Historic Places property dates to the turn of the 20th century and was constructed with maintenance-intensive shingles over weatherboards.
IMMEDIATELY ON YOUR LEFT IS...
Whiteford G. Smith House
249 Cumberland Avenue
Whiteford G. Smith was a Greenwood, South Carolina native who graduated form the Maryland Pharmaceutical College in 1890 when he was 31 years old. He arrived in Asheville a year later and found work with the T.C. Smith Drug Company but was running his own apothecary on Patton Street by 1894. Smith, a veteran of both the Spanish-American War and World War I, built a Queen Anne home at 263 Haywood Street that is now on the National Register of Historic Places before moving here.
TURN LEFT ON CUMBERLAND AVENUE.
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
227 Cumberland Avenue
Founded in 1922 by a tiny band of Greek immigrants, the congregation likes to remind folks that Greek was the principle language of the civilized world until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and is still the tongue of 13 million people worldwide. The current property was acquired in 1958 and the Mediterranean-styled church erected. Since 1986 the popular Greek Festival has been held on the grounds each September.
Carolina Bed and Breakfast
177 Cumberland Avenue
Richard Sharp Smith tapped the nascent Arts & Crafts movement for this 2 1/2-story home in1901. The pebble-dash stucco was a favorite building material of Smith and a hallmark of the English-based country style - look for it around Montford. Smith’s client here was Maria Brown but she never lived in the house, marrying and moving out of town instead. Her brother took over the property after living in New Zealand where their father was in the foreign service. After Vance Brown, president of the Asheville Mica Company, died in 1933 the building did duty as a boarding house before being resuscitated as a bed and breakfast.
The Cumberland Apartments
141 Cumberland Avenue
These three-story brick apartments are distinguished by a quartet of full-height, fluted Ionic columns, ornamental brickwork and a fanlight over the Federal-style entrance. Its twin, the Colonial, albeit with keystones, is down the street.
A Bed of Roses
135 Cumberland Avenue
Oliver Davis Revell was born in the middle of the Civil War in Camden, South Carolina. After the war his widowed mother brought her brood to Asheville to live with family. When his mother died when he was 16, Revell was on his own and taught himself to be a carpenter. Described as frugal to a fault, Revell had purchased a lot and constructed a small house to rent out by the time he was 19. By the 1890s he was building homes in the eclectic Queen Anne style around Asheville, of which this property constructed in 1897 stands as his best survivor. It was an investment property for Carolyn Gray, whose husband was a retired Union Army officer. After John Grey died, Revell married his widow. In 1902 the Revells migrated west to the booming Indian Territory, soon to be Oklahoma, where he built four offices buildings in Muskogee as the town’s leading developer.
90 Cumberland Avenue
This splendidly maintained Colonial Revival with pitched gable roofs was once the home of Henry Redwood. Redwood was born in Baltimore but ran away to enlist in the Confederate Army when he was 16. During the war he met Edward Dilworth Latta, who would one day be known as the “Pioneer Builder of Charlotte.” The two worked together in a clothing store in New York City after the war. In the 1870s Latta and Redwood parted, each going into business for himself in Charlotte and Asheville, respectively. Redwood eventually became vice-president of the American National Bank; his wife held a similar position with the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
TURN LEFT AND WALK DOWN ELIZABETH STREET ACROSS FROM THE REDWOOD HOUSE. TURN RIGHT ON ELIZABETH PLACE.
32 Elizabeth Place
Built between 1846 and 1848, this is the oldest surviving wood-frame house in Asheville. William Dinwiddie Rankin was born in 1804 in Tennessee, less than a decade after the state was admitted to the Union. He operated a successful frontier commissary in Newport, just across the state line, until the 1840s when his wife Elizabeth was smitten with the tiny mountain town of Asheville during a visit. The Rankins acquired about 75 acres on this wooded hillside and constructed this substantial five-bay, two-story house. William Rankin transfered his mercantile interests to Asheville and also operated the area’s largest tannery on the property. He put in a stint as mayor of the town from and served during the Civil War as a member of the “Silver Greys” - men who were too old to serve but protected the homefront. The house was raided by Yankee troops and during a skirmish on April 3, 1865 took a cannonball in one of its chimneys. In 1879 William Rankin was kicked in the head by a mule and died at the age of 75. The family began selling parcels of land that would become the Town of Montford but remained in the house until 1912. A century later you can still see the Greek Revival form and entranceway with transom and sidelights. The porch and bracketing are Victorian affectations added in the post-Civil War period.
TURN RIGHT ON STARNES AVENUE.
Brexton Boarding House
33 Starnes Avenue
When the railroad in the late 1800s opened access to Asheville’s clean mountain air to less well-heeled vacationers, furnished boarding houses began to spring up to accommodate these new middle class tourists. “The Brexton,” an architecturally undistinguished form of the breed, opened in the mid-1890s. In 1906, the Sisters of Mercy operated a sanitarium out of the house when St. Joseph’s Hospital owned the building. To ease the suffering of their tubercular patients sleeping porches were added to the outside and these can still be seen today behind the modern siding.
CONTINUE TO THE END OF STARNES AVENUE AND TURN RIGHT ON CUMBERLAND AVENUE AND THEN TURN LEFT ON BEARDEN AVENUE TO ITS END. ON YOUR LEFT AT MONTFORD AVENUE IS...
89 Montford Avenue
Henry Lamar Gudger, the Asheville postmaster, purchased this property at the gateway to the Montford District in 1890. He constructed a rambling Queen Anne frame house awash with gables and towers which remained in the family until the 1950s. Afterward came a familiar tale of subdivision and decline into disrepair. In 1978 the condemned Gudger House was acquired by the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County and became one its first success stories.
111-113 Montford Avenue
Here is a modern take on the Arts and Crafts styling that permeates the Montford streetscape. The grouping of four houses form an “urban quad” that stand in the stead of a razed mansion.
Montford Arts Center
235 Montford Avenue
The future of American retailing changed forever on September 6, 1916 when Clarence Saunders opened the first Piggly Wiggly food store at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Main Street in Memphis. Until that time, customers presented their lists at a front counter and clerks went to collect the goods and weigh out ground coffee scooped from large wooden barrels. At Piggly Wiggly, shoppers wandered the aisles and filled their own carts with items they plucked from the shelves. Within five years Saunders had franchised self-service groceries in 40 states, ushering in the age of the supermarket. This brick building was constructed in 1926 as a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Over the years it has done time as a North Asheville police station and is currently gallery space for local artists and craftsfolk.
TURN LEFT ON CHESTNUT STREET.
Montford Recreation Center
34 Pearson Drive at southwest corner of Gay Street
This is the control center for goings-on in Montford, including the Montford Park Players who bring free Shakespeare to a hillside amphitheatre every summer. The theatre company began in 1973 back in Montford Park where the tour started before moving here a decade later. The actors and technicians of the Montford Park Players are all volunteers and it takes the efforts of over 200 people to bring these productions to Asheville.
WALK DOWN GAY STREET TO MADISON LANE AND TURN RIGHT INTO STUMPTOWN.
west of Pearson Drive between Courtland Avenue and Cullowhee Street
Stumptown, named for the abundance of tree stumps left in the ground after timber was cleared in the 1880s, predates the blossoming of Montford a block away. The historically black community once housed about 250 families on fewer than 30 acres; many in the church-oriented community worked in Riverview Cemetery up the hill. Later, as Montford became a wealthy suburb, Stumptown residents found work in the homes and then the emerging downtown hotels. Gentrification leveled many of the modest houses and spruced up others but some of the flavor of this historic pocket of Asheville remains.
TURN RIGHT ON GRAY STREET. TURN LEFT ON PEARSON DRIVE AND LEFT ON BIRCH STREET.
end of Birch Street off Pearson Drive
The Asheville Cemetery Company established this graveyard in 1885 on a hillside overlooking the French Broad River. It became a city cemetery in 1952 and it is the resting place of over 13,000 Carolinians. Riverside is the burial place of noted authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sidney Porter, better known as O. Henry. Confederate generals James Martin, Robert B. Vance and Thomas Clingman are interred here as are former North Carolina governor and Senator Zebulon Baird Vance, Senator Jeter Connelly Pritchard, and Governor Locke Craig. A self-guided walking tour is available.
AFTER EXPLORING THE HISTORIC CEMETERY RETURN TO PEARSON DRIVE AND TURN RIGHT. TURN LEFT ON CULLOWHEE STREET TO RETURN TO MONTFORD AVENUE.
Morris Lipinsky House
211 Montford Avenue
Before turning left and continuing to tour Montford Avenue, look across the street to the right to see the tell-tale gambrel roof of the Dutch Colonial Revival home of Morris Lipinsky. Like his father before him and his son afterwards, Lipinsky was a downtown Asheville merchant. Starting as an errand boy, Lipinsky worked his way to the presidency of the Bon Marche department stores.
TURN LEFT ON MONTFORD AVENUE.
The Lion & The Rose Bed & Breakfast
276 Montford Avenue
Elmer Horace Craig was a Special Examiner in the United States Pension Office in Wisconsin when his health broke. Seeking relief he brought his family to Asheville where they moved into this classically-flavored Victorian house in 1896. Craig could only enjoy it a short time, however, before he died at the age of 51 in 1898. His wife Charity, daughter of Jeremiah McLain Rusk, a Civil War general, three-time governor of Wisconsin and the second United States Secretary of Agriculture, managed the household thereafter. She was a President of the Women’s Relief Corps whose purpose was to perpetuate the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic. Charles and Ethel Toms bought the house after Charity Craig’s death in 1913. The house is centered around a flamboyant gable above a wraparound porch with double Doric supports on stone pedestals.
The Black Walnut Bed & Breakfast Inn
288 Montford Avenue
Here is another design from the pen of Richard Sharp Smith, created in 1899 for Ottis Green with elements from the Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles. Green was a graduate of Trinity College before it became Duke University and operated a prosperous hardware concern on Pack Square. He also served as mayor of Asheville in the 1930s. It is said that, after receiving a tip during the Depression, Green led a procession of employees - some with shotguns at the ready - to the Central Bank and Trust Company to take all his money away in a wheelbarrow. The next day the bank failed.
The 1900 Inn on Montford
296 Montford Avenue
Here is another Richard Sharp Smith creation. Smith was nimble working across a number of styles and this interpretation of an old English field house was designed for Charles S. Jordan, a physician who had recently returned from serving as a first assistant surgeon in the Spanish-American War.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO WANETA STREET AT THE CORNER OF THE BLACK WALNUT AND TURN RIGHT. AS WANETA DISSOLVES INTO PEARSON DRIVE, CONTINUE ON PEARSON.
224 Pearson Drive
Charles Newton Parker came to Asheville from Ohio in his teens after the death of his father. The year was 1900. He embraced the outdoor lifestyle and found work as a surveyor and then as a draftsman for the City of Asheville in 1906 when he 21. Parker opened his own shop in 1913 and two years later became one of the first licensed architects in North Carolina, issued license certificate #28. He specialized in English Tudor Revival houses in Asheville’s new suburbs and this halftimbered brick house, designed in 1920 for Robert W. Griffith, is a superb example. A few years later Parker won the commission to build a massive indoor shopping center for drug manufacturer Edwin W. Grove and the Grove Arcade became his crowning achievement.
230 Pearson Drive
This Dutch Colonial Revival corner house - note the trademark Gambrel roof - was the property of Charles Hartwell Cocke and built in 1924. Cocke was born in Columbus, Mississippi, where his father was the president of Mississippi College for Women, in 1881 and earned a medical degree from Cornell University in 1905. Practicing in Birmingham, Alabama he contracted tuberculosis during which he convalesced in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. Afterwards he shunned the city and moved to Asheville in 1911 where he became medical director of Zephyr Hill Sanatorium, a governor for North Carolina of the American College of Physicians and author of numerous papers on tuberculosis and internal medicine.
Wright Inn and Carriage House
235 Pearson Drive
Osella and Leva Wright ran a leather goods shop called the Carolina Carriage House on Patton Avenue when they built this picturesque Queen Anne residence in 1899. With its irregular roofline, multiple gables and asymmetrical massing it is an exemplary example of the form. The Victorian showcase is a George Barber design. In 1888 George Franklin Barber, an Illinois architect, relocated to Knoxville, hoping the mountain air would restore his declining health. While in town he mastered the technique of mail order architecture, issuing The Cottage Souvenir No. 2 in 1890 with 59 house plans. Barber’s designs have resulted in houses in all 50 states. The Wrights sold the house in 1913 and the same day Leva Wright bought back a portion of the property. She remained here taking in boarders until 1945. The house was called “Faded Glory” by the locals until it was faithfully restored as a bed-and-breakfast in the 1980s.
301 Pearson Drive
William Henry Lord was a native of upstate New York who migrated to Asheville in the late 1890s and became one of the region’s leading architects, designing schools, private residences and churches. He lived in Montford in a house he designed and built at 267 Flint Street. In the last years of his life when commissions dried up during the Great Depression Lord and his son, also a prominent architect, produced ornamental ironwork at a forge on Flint Street, supplying prestigious clients throughout the East. Here Lord designed an addition in 1906 for the Dutch Colonial with cedar shakes from 1893. The owner was William B. Williamson who began his career in Asheville peddling furniture and later became a banker.
TURN RIGHT ON SANTEE STREET. TURN RIGHT ON MONTFORD AVENUE. TURN LEFT ON ZILLICOA STREET.
19 Zillicoa Street
Dr. Robert Sproul Carroll came from Duke University to Asheville in 1904 to open Highland Hospital, based on Carroll’s theories of electroshock and insulin-therapy for the treatment of mental illness. In 1927 he constructed this Norman-influenced manor house of uncoursed stone highlighted by a corner turret. The pride of Homewood was the 1,500 square foot piano room where Carroll’s second wife, Grace Stewart Potter, a concert pianist, would perform and give lessons. At other times, Bela Bartok, regarded as Hungary’s greatest composer, would give private concerts here. Carroll remained the director of Highland Hospital until 1944; four years later “Dr. Carroll’s Sanitorium” made the headlines when a kitchen fire killed nine women, including author Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had been a patient off and on since 1936. Homewood is currently an event and conference center.
49 Zillicoa Street
James Edwin Rumbough was the only mayor the Town of Montford ever had, serving from 1892 until its annexation by Asheville in 1905. This splendid hilltop manor house was worthy of a man of such distinction, considered the finest residence in all of Montford, but James Rumbough had little to do in its creation. Rather it was his father-in-law, James Baker, a Philadelphia inventor who not only paid for the construction of the house as a wedding gift in 1892 but attended to every detail, right down to picking each piece of lumber. It seems the Bakers never built with any lumber that wasn’t at least 60 years old. Rumbough, the son of an old stage coach operator and owner of the Mountain Park Hotel in Hot Springs, was an early automobile enthusiast. In 1905 he became the first person to drive a car from Asheville to New York City - a trip that took 14 days. In 1911 Rumbaugh became the first motorist to drive across the Appalachian Mountains into Tennessee.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS BACK TO MONTFORD AVENUE AND TURN LEFT.
346 Montford Avenue
Bricks were not a trendy building material in Montford but this Colonial Revival mansion from 1908 used the familiar clay blocks. It became the Norburn Hospital in 1928 under the guidance of brothers Russell Lee and Charles Norburn. Despite taking care of over 33,000 bed patients, the hospital struggled to survive through the Depression, when few patients could afford to pay their medical expenses. The hospital was eventually taken over by the Mission Memorial Hospital. After the Highland Hospital was destroyed by fire it relocated here. This is another design of William Henry Lord, drawn up for George S. Powell, a businessman and first president of the Appalachian National Park Association.
YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT MONTFORD PARK.