“Asheville’s sweetest neighborhood” is one of the slogans for historic Montford in North Carolina. If you loved watching The Gilded Era on HBO, then you might want to check out this neighborhood as well as Asheville’s arts district, food scene, and the Grove Arcade.
I traveled 130 years back in time when I strolled down the wide streets of Montford, North Carolina in the spring. Founded as an autonomous community in 1893, Montford is the most historic neighborhood in Asheville, NC. Many homes feature the hummingbird banners celebrating Montford’s history.
“The Montford Neighborhood consists of about three hundred acres and retains more than six hundred structures representing a rich diversity of architectural styles, most constructed between 1890 and 1920 during Asheville’s emergence as the greatest city of the Southern Appalachians.”www.Montford.org
The architecture includes Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts, Colonial Revival, and NeoClassical.
I had to stop at nearly every home to admire the architectural detail. The Queen Anne-style houses include big porches with decorative wood trim, an asymmetrical front facade, and steep roofs with large dormers or cross gables.
I would not have been shocked to see a little girl wearing a long dress with petticoats rush out the front door cradling a doll.
National Register of Historic Places
Montford was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. And not too soon as the wrecking ball had already torn down many houses, including the Coleman House at 36 Montford Avenue.
Thanks to the hard work of the Preservation Society, these grande belles in Montford were not all torn down to make room for undistinguished office buildings during the 1970s. They also learned a hard lesson from the Coleman House debacle. It was better to buy the historic house rather than let a developer purchase the house and then knock it down.
“Banking on its architectural past when many cities were busy razing downtowns in the name of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s, Asheville invested in its future as a visitor destination.”Asheville Citizen-Times
Richard Sharp Smith is one of the main architects that designed multiple homes in Montford in 1900, including the Annie West House. He had also been the supervising architect for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate.
“The appearance of English architect Richard Sharp Smith to Asheville in the late nineteenth century profoundly affected the city’s subsequent architectural development.”Montford.com
Smith’s signature style for his Montford multi-gabled homes featured half-timbering, pebbledash or stucco, heavy porch brackets, and diamond-pane windows.
“Several exemplary designs on Montford Avenue—including the Ottis Green House and Charles Jordan House, both ca. 1900—show Smith combining the pebbledash and half-timbered effects with other elements from the Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles.”NC State University Libraries
According to the placards installed on Montford Avenue, African Americans were always part of the neighborhood. They lived in small streets like Short, Harrrison, Ocala and Young and in Stumptown. Some of these residents owned their own houses and were ministers, teachers, nurses, midwives and business owners,” reported History at Hand: A People’s Collection.
“Montford is a snap shot of the period from 1890-1925. It was a trolley suburb for the well to do as well as a small African American community named Stumptown.”Historian Sharon Fahrer
Sharon’s mission is to make history accessible through interpretive history panels in public spaces, walking tours, lectures and exhibits. She has been doing this since 2002.
During my stroll through Montford, I also noticed signs at one house to “Please be curious! MontfordandStumptown.com. The fund’s slogan is: “Historical & Hopeful. Learning from the past and creating new futures.”
Black Walnut B&B
Located at 288 Monford Avenue, this historic home is featured in the new edition of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” It is a Select Registry Property. There are six rooms in the main house and two brand new, pet-friendly suites in the restored carriage house.
The Black Walnut Bed & Breakfast Inn was designed and built by the supervising architect for The Biltmore Estate, Richard Sharp-Smith, in 1899.
Alicia Wilson, the innkeeper, retired to Asheville after a career with a global chemical company. She purchased the inn in 2019. “I fell in love with Black Walnut and the Historic Montford District the first time I sat on our beautiful large front porch,” reported Wilson.
1900 Inn on Montford
This expansive Arts and Craft style B&B allows you to slip back into turn-of-century life. “The Inn exemplifies the Arts and Crafts style made popular in Asheville by noted society architect, Richard Sharp Smith, supervising Architect to Biltmore House,” according to the 1900 Inn on Montford’s website.
Take a nap on the wraparound porch at the 1900 Inn on Montford. Sip a cup of tea while nibbling on a homemade cookie. Blink an eye and you almost can picture a horse and buggy arriving to drop off new hotel guests. There is even a pet-friendly suite.
The inn is furnished with English and American antiques dating from 1730 to 1910. It has a Four-Diamond rating and is a part of Select Registry.
Willy and Shawnie Gruber are the innkeepers at 1900 Montford Inn.
Lion & Rose B&B
The Lion and the Rose B&B is described as “a stunning pink lady in the Montford Historic District.” The inn promises that the manicured lawns, luxurious decor, and welcoming innkeepers invite you in for an unforgettable stay at an exceptional value.
Built in 1898, this residence is located within walking distance to downtown Asheville. This house is a Queen Anne/Georgian style inn, which has been restored to its original splendor. It has earned the privilege of being the first stop on Asheville’s historic trolley tours.
The innkeepers Steve and Karen, are affectionately known as Mr. and Mrs. Wild, for their love of wildlife and adventurous spirit. They have been fortunate enough to travel extensively and meet so many wonderful people along the way.
Arts & Crafts Bungalows
While Montford is home to many splendid estates, usually Queen Anne-style mansions, there are also many Arts & Crafts bungalows. They were built roughly between 1900 – 1929 (prior to the Great Depression.
These homes featured low-pitched, gabled roof. There were wide overhanging eaves and decorative brackets (such as knee braces or corbels). Typically, there was a front or corner porch under the roofline, according to ArchitectureStyles.org.
“Generally, the Arts & Crafts movement was a reaction to the extravagant, machined, and mass-produced Victorian styles that in turn represented the Industrial Revolution.”www.ArchitectureStyles.org
Since 1987, the Grove Park Inn in Asheville has hosted the National Arts & Craft Conference. The Grove Park opened in 1913 and is considered one of the finest examples of historical Arts & Crafts architecture in the country.
The Riverside Cemetery was designed in 1885. The Victorian-style cemetery is the final resting place of Asheville’s most esteemed writers, including Thomas Wolfe. While disparaged after the publication of Look Homeward Angel, Wolfe became a beloved member of Asheville society in later years.
“Set on 87 shady acres, Riverside is a walk through Asheville’s past on smooth, paved trails, past over a dozen family mausoleums and impressive statuary.
Wolfe’s mother ran the Asheville boarding house which Wolfe described in his novel.
Thomas Wolfe Memorial
“The cemetery is still active, with more than 13,000 people buried here, 9,000 monuments and 12 family mausoleums,” according to Montford.org.
There is no better way to enjoy this historic neighborhood than to walk up and down the streets of Montford, as I learned with my puppy (Parker).
If you do not have a dog, ask a neighbor if you can borrow their Fido. Then proceed to sashay down Montford Avenue to admire the grand mansions of the early 20th century.
During high season, you can book Asheville by Foot’s walking tour of historic Montford.
“As Asheville oldest organized neighborhood, Montford is a stunning collection of Victorian-era homes including the Queen Anne styles as well as English Cottage, Castleate, Craftsman, and Neoclassical.”
“Also learn about Riverside Cemetery, where some of Asheville’s most famous characters are laid to rest as well as Highland Hospital, a once-controversial mental health asylum where Zelda Fitzgerald was killed while a patient.”Asheville by Foot Tours
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JasminaApril 16, 2022 at 8:44 am
This neighborhood looks so pretty, I can see myself walking up and down the streets!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 10:56 am
I wish I could have spent an entire day exploring Montford. I didn’t leave enough time.
BethApril 16, 2022 at 8:52 am
Loved this snapshot of this pretty little town!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 10:56 am
Awww thank you. It is so pretty!
BejalApril 16, 2022 at 9:05 am
Thanks Terri once again for this historical and articulate introduction to Montford. The neighbourhood is super charming and yep I’d be borrowing a four legged friend for that beautiful walk!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 10:56 am
Bejal I am so glad you enjoyed your virtual tour of Montford. Your canine guide (Parker) was happy to show you around the neighborhood. The turn of the century houses are magnificent.
HelenaApril 16, 2022 at 10:23 am
I just love the style of houses, we have nothing like this in the UK so it’s so fascinating to see these pictures and learn more about the neighbourhood!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 10:54 am
I am actually taking an architecture course at college right now because I am so fascinated by the residences built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These homes in Montford are gorgeous.
SarahApril 16, 2022 at 10:55 am
What an adorable community! This reminds me of a town called Port Colborne that I have near me! Looks like you picked the perfect place to visit, too. I’d love to come here and travel back in time (plus what an adorable photo of Parker with the tulips!)
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 11:56 am
You actually do feel like you time traveled when you visit Montford! The town turns back the years with its historic homes. I want to stay in one of the exquisite B&Bs one day when I return.
ErinApril 16, 2022 at 3:19 pm
Terri, this looks like such a quaint neighborhood with historical homes. I have never been to this part of NC, and home to make it there in a few months. You did a great job capturing the beauty of this area.
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 6:52 pm
Erin thank you. I wanted to make sure my readers learn about Montford because it is such a charming neighborhood. I wish I had longer to explore the side streets.
Elena PappalardoApril 16, 2022 at 3:21 pm
Montford looks so charming! I’ve been to Asheville, but never to this gem. Thanks for putting it on my radar!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 6:51 pm
You must visit. It is one exit off Route 26. I also missed this neighborhood on my first trip to Asheville. It is a gem if you love historic homes.
simplyjolayneApril 16, 2022 at 3:42 pm
A perfect history of such a delightful town. I agree, it would be wonderful to wander through town admiring such beauty and craftsmanship.
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 6:50 pm
I particularly like the Arts & Crafts style architecture. These bungalows are charming. I want to own one lol!
Sue (PhilaTravelGirl)April 16, 2022 at 5:45 pm
What a lovely neighborhood full of history and charm. Love when a B&B has such gorgeous architecture and makes you one with its history. Thanks for sharing this secret town
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 6:49 pm
I think it would be amazing to spend a long weekend at these historic B&Bs in Montfort. They are gorgeous.
AdaApril 16, 2022 at 5:55 pm
I love old houses and I’m so glad so many of these house could be saved. I definitely want to check this area out the next time I’m in North Carolina!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 6:48 pm
I highly recommend visiting the Blue Ridge In NC and exploring all these mountain towns. This neighborhood is one of a kind with its historic homes saved from the wrecking ball.
KatyApril 16, 2022 at 7:09 pm
The homes in this neighborhood are *gorgeous*. I love the fact that many are converted to B&Bs. It would be fun to stay in one 🙂
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 8:51 pm
I absolutely want to stay in one of these “grande” B&Bs on my next visit to Asheville!
ErinApril 16, 2022 at 7:46 pm
Those homes…and their massive yards…are incredible. I’m pretty sure I went through that area a few years ago when I was in Asheville, but now I want to go back and explore it on foot! Looks like there are plenty of incredible places to stay when I go.
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 8:51 pm
Being from Savannah, you would love Montford & its architecture. The best way to admire it is a walking tour. I wish I could have spent the night in one of the B&Bs. Next visit!
TishApril 16, 2022 at 10:50 pm
Montford is definitely a charming place I would like to visit.
Thanks for the beautiful pics esp of Parker so cute!
TerriApril 17, 2022 at 7:39 am
I think you would enjoy an architectural walking tour of Montfort. Parker says woof!
StephanieApril 16, 2022 at 7:59 pm
What a beautiful area of North Carolina! I’m a sucker for exploring historic places and checking out old homes and buildings like these! It definitely feels like your stepping back in time!
TerriApril 16, 2022 at 8:49 pm
You are so right. I think Montford might have more historically significant residences than any other neighborhood in NC but don’t quote me!
AlexApril 16, 2022 at 9:06 pm
When I visit Ashville I will be sure to see this gorgeous historic neighborhood! Would love to stay at one of the B&Bs. Thank you for sharing!
TerriApril 17, 2022 at 7:41 am
I really hope you can visit soon. Plan a long weekend and stay at a B&B in Montford!
KathrynApril 16, 2022 at 10:45 pm
As residents of North Carolina, we are always looking for ideas for our next road trip. Thanka for these suggestions!
TerriApril 17, 2022 at 7:40 am
You absolutely must plan a long weekend in Asheville and take a walking tour of Montford. They also have the outdoor Shakespeare festival in the summer. Enjoy!
HeatherApril 16, 2022 at 11:53 pm
Beautiful homes! And I especially love seeing your puppy out and about with you. So cute! I didn’t know that about the arts and crafts movement. Very interesting! Heather
TerriApril 17, 2022 at 7:38 am
The Arts & Crafts movement fascinates me too. I love the adorable bungalows in Montfort. In the DC area, you also see these homes in Glen Echo, Maryland. Parker says woof!
NicolaApril 17, 2022 at 3:07 am
I totally feel like I was born in the wrong era and I’m obsessed with the Gilded Age so I love this kind of travel. Thank you for transporting me back in time with this blog post and I’m glad I found your blog.
TerriApril 17, 2022 at 7:36 am
I am obsessed with this time period too! The architecture – chateauesque at the Biltmore Estate – blew me away. Thanks for reading my article.
KatyApril 17, 2022 at 3:23 am
Wow, what a beautiful town! I’d love to take a stroll along the streets and look at the beautiful houses.
TerriApril 17, 2022 at 7:35 am
Strolling Montford Avenue is unbelievable. I couldn’t believe there were so many historic mansions cluster together. I am glad you enjoyed the post.
BrittanyApril 18, 2022 at 10:36 am
Wow, Montford is such a beautiful neighborhood! I visited Asheville a few years ago, but I had never heard about this spot. I’ll have to put it on my list for next time. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
KristaApril 21, 2022 at 8:40 am
I really enjoy visiting historical places when I travel so I would love to go here! Thanks for sharing and adding it to my bucket list.