Asheville History

Unlock the secrets to Asheville’s storied past. Hidden among the tree-lined streets of Asheville lies a rich history waiting to be discovered. 

Asheville at the Crossroad

Asheville was a primitive outpost in 1797. Frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett traveled through in the early days. Asheville was little more than a crossroads of Indian trails on a plateau surrounded by mountains and rivers on all sides.

The railroad transformed Asheville and Buncombe County into a resort and therapeutic health center when it arrived in 1880. Asheville became a Mecca for visitors searching for a mountain escape, its population climbing to nearly 30,000 seasonal residents in 1890.

Rich Architecture

Asheville had no money to invest in urban renewal projects that were so popular in other cities following Black Monday. The magnificent buildings built during the boom years were spared the bulldozer as a result of Asheville commitment to repay its debt. Check out our online guide to downtown Asheville’s 1920’s architecture.

This is why Asheville is a snap shot of what an American boomtown looked like during the turn of the century. It isn't unusual to find quaint mom and pop shops in elegant surroundings.

Pioneers, Philanthropists and Artists

Asheville has always drawn visionaries, poets and explorers.

George W. Vanderbilt came to Asheville in the late 1880s and quickly purchased 120,000 acres to build his grand estate. The endeavor took six years and Vanderbilt commissioned renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds and gardens, and celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to help him plan the house. Biltmore Estate has withstood the test of time and modern mansions are dwarfed by the regal home.

Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville and grew up in his mother's rambling boardinghouse, known as "Dixieland." Wolfe is one of the giants of American literature, and Asheville is the backdrop for his autobiographical novel, "Look Homeward, Angel."


African American Voices Speak of Rich History and Vibrant Future

by Ami Worthen

We meet our guide Joe Greene at the WRES studio next to Jack of the Wood on Patton Avenue, as the groovy sounds of R&B, soul, and funk emanate from the station’s speakers. The music brings smiles and an occasional booty shake from … read more

Asheville's African-American History Tours Uncover Voices from Past & Present

by Ami Worthen

Take A Walk Around "The Block" With Hood Tours Founder DeWayne Barton It’s a festive Saturday afternoon in Asheville, N.C.'s Triangle Park on South Market Street, just a few blocks from the city center, and we are greeted by the … read more

From Biltmore to the Forests: Your Guide to the Serafina Experience

by Jason Tarr

Plan an escape that will bring the best-selling novel series to life In the cavernous basement of the Biltmore Estate and in the magical forests surrounding Asheville is a mythical protagonist, 12-year-old Serafina, who has captivated the attention … read more

50 Things to Do in Asheville

by Del Holston

If you’re looking for things to do in Asheville, then consider this list your primer to the many activities available in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, or perhaps well acquainted with the flair of this … read more

Asheville's Literary Connections

by Asheville Insider

Asheville's literary heritage stretches across the 20th century and contemporary authors continue to be drawn here. These well-known novelists, poets, essayists and storytellers have ties to Asheville: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent two summers … read more

Moog Music: Pioneer of Modern Sound

by Asheville Insider

Bob Moog is a well-known legend in the music industry. In fact, in many ways he was a pioneer. Having invented the Moog Synthesizer back in the 1960s, Moog revolutionized the way we enjoy music today. You would be hard pressed to find any major band … read more

Appalachian Food Legacies and Mountain Harvest

by Asheville Insider

From hand-tied fishing lures to moonshine lore, Appalachia embodies a colorful culture all its own The Blue Ridge Mountains, the spine of southernmost Appalachia, are gently rolling as ranges go. Some of the oldest mountains in the world, the Blue … read more

Over the Blue Ridge to Cherokee Territory

by K.C. Cronin

Asheville’s Ancient Connections Beyond the stunning Art Deco architecture, the sounds of drums in Pritchard Park on a Friday night and the smell of Mexico as you pass White Duck Taco - stop and ponder this…you are in the shadows of a … read more

Mountain Sounds, Legacy of Dulcimers

by Cat Kessler

Locally Crafted Instruments Lend Melodies a Blue Ridge Ring Enthusiasts of Appalachian music are likely familiar with the whimsical sounds of dulcimers, instruments that have a rich legacy tied to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jerry Read Smith, a local … read more

Asheville’s Awe-Inspiring Church

by K.C. Cronin

Visiting the Basilica of St. Lawrence A European Master Comes to Asheville Described as “The Paris of the South,” Asheville can boast some keen similarities to the “City of Lights,” especially those reminiscent of the Left … read more