The Montford Historic
District is Asheville’s oldest and largest with over 600 buildings reflecting a
variety of late 19th and early 20th century styles. Montford is a culturally
diverse and thriving community, and was the creation of Asheville’s boom times,
having its origins as an upper middle class suburb in 1889. Asheville’s most
famous son, writer Thomas Wolfe, describes Montford Avenue in Look Homeward
Angel as “the most fashionable street in town.”
Montford’s Riverside Cemetery is well worth a visit for scenic beauty alone; but
is also notable as the final resting place for two of America’s most important
writers: O. Henry (William Sidney Porter) and Thomas Wolfe. Located just across
I-240 from downtown Asheville, a drive through Montford reveals a collection of
architecture from the Queen Anne to Georgian Revival styles, with many
variations in between. Quite a few of these majestic old homes have been
converted to bed & breakfasts, making Montford one of Asheville’s premier
destinations for those seeking a pleasant stay in a historic setting. The best
way to see Montford is by car and the historic sites in this section will be
presented as a self guided tour. Plan at least an hour, perhaps more if you wish
to get out and visit Riverside Cemetery on foot, for the tour. Another way to
see this historic district is to take a tour on one of two replica trolleys. See
Asheville Tours for more information.
Directions & Self-Guided Tour
Directions: From I-240, take Exit 4C Haywood Street/Montford
Avenue. Begin at the top of Montford Avenue just on the north side of I-240.
Montford Avenue turns off of Haywood Street just west of the Asheville Visitor
Center. Continue down Montford to 276, The Lion and The Rose Bed & Breakfast on
The Lion & The Rose Bed & Breakfast (NRHP) 276 Montford Ave.
This beautifully landscaped bed & breakfast is housed in a charming three-story
Queen Anne/Georgian Revival style pebbledash building and is officially known as
the Craig-Toms House. Interesting features are the double Doric posts on stone
pedestals and the elaborate center gable. Built in 1898, this house has been
faithfully restored to its original elegance, with all its rooms furnished with
antiques, oriental rugs and period appointments. High embossed ceilings, golden
oak, classic leaded and stained glass windows create a feeling of the Victorian
era. Right next door is The Black Walnut Bed & Breakfast Inn.
The Black Walnut Bed & Breakfast Inn (NRHP) 288 Montford Ave.
This large handsome residence, designed by Richard Sharp Smith was constructed
around 1900. Known historically as the Otis Green House, after Otis Green who
owned the residence for many years, it embodies the eclecticism characteristic
of Smith’s work, combining flourishes of the Shingle style, Queen Anne and
Colonial Revival styles of architecture. Beautifully landscaped also, this
striking building is faithfully restored and decorated throughout with antiques
and fine traditional furniture. The third of three bed & breakfasts located on
this side of the street is The Inn on Montford, next door to The Black Walnut.
The Inn on Montford (NRHP) 296 Montford Ave.
Originally known as the Dr. Charles S. Jordan House, this “Old English” style
house at 296 Montford Avenue was de-signed by Richard Sharp Smith. The house is
typical of architect Smith’s interpretation of the “Old English” style. Two
major gables with splayed eaves are presented to the street at attic level, and
a combination of shingles and pebbledash are employed. Construction of the house
dates back to around 1900. This lovely bed & breakfast has period landscaping
with rows of neatly trimmed boxwoods and other plantings. Queen-sized poster
beds, English and American antiques and fine paintings all add to the atmosphere
of an “English Cottage.” After viewing these three inns, turn left on Watauga
Street and proceed to Pearson Drive. Turn left on Pearson. On your left will be
the romantic Wright Inn.
The Wright Inn and Carriage House (NRHP) 235 Pearson Dr.
The Wright Inn is one of the finest examples of Queen Anne architecture in the
Montford District and in all of Western North Carolina. With stylized Doric
porch posts on paneled pedestals, multiple gables and slate roof, this
wonderfully restored building is a delight to behold. Elegantly appointed inside
with antiques and family heirlooms, the 1899-1900 Victorian masterpiece was
designed by George Barber.
Right across the street is the Colby House, another bed & breakfast.
Colby House (NRHP) 230 Pearson Dr.
This bed & breakfast was built in 1924, and is a Dutch Colonial Revival-style
dwelling with Gambrel roof. Interesting features include the elliptical leaded
fanlight at the entrance door and the exterior of North Carolina blue granite
with beaded mortar joints. Originally called the Dr. Charles Hartwell Cocke
House, the Colby House today welcomes guests to a relaxing refined environment.
Continue down Pearson Drive and turn right onto Birch Street to the historic
Riverside Cemetery (NRHP) 53 Birch St.
Historic Riverside Cemetery at the end of Birch Street and is operated under the
direction of the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities
Department. It is the burial site of Thomas Wolfe, O. Henry (William Sidney
Porter), Zebulon Vance (N.C. Governor and U.S. Senator), three Civil War
Confederate Generals, Thomas L. Clingman and Robert R. Reynolds (U.S. Senators),
and many of Asheville’s founding families. Group tours are welcomed at this
87-acre cemetery. A walk through Riverside Cemetery is a walk through a rich
source of area history. More than 13,000 people lie in marked graves, many with
grave sites marked with angels and lambs crafted of Italian Carrera marble. The
cemetery is open around the clock, but office hours are Monday-Friday, 8
a.m.-4:30 p.m. The office phone number is 258-8480. Leaving the cemetery, return
by way of Birch Street back to Pearson Drive and turn right.
Continue down Pearson to West Chestnut Street and turn left. On West Chestnut
you will cross Montford Avenue and continue on to Cumberland Avenue. Turn left
at Cumberland and look for another lovely Victorian bed & breakfast, A Bed of
Roses, immediately on your right.
A Bed of Roses (NRHP) 135 Cumberland Ave.
This splendidly restored house dates back to around 1897 and is a playful
variant of the Queen Anne style, with the dominant feature being the large
second store polygonal corner projection with a broad ogee roof. The front porch
also has stylized Doric type posts on stone pedestals. It was built by O.D.
Revell and is officially named after the first long-term occupant Marvin B.
Wilkinson who purchased it in 1904. Today, the house welcomes guests to its
rooms furnished with antiques, handmade quilts and fresh flowers. Continuing on
down Cumberland Avenue you will see the Maria T. Brown House on your right at
177, restored as the Carolina Bed & Breakfast.
The Carolina Bed & Breakfast (NRHP) 177 Cumberland Ave.
This 2½-story stucco dwelling was designed by Richard Sharp Smith and built
before 1901. The porch has unusual brackets, shed dormers and a high hipped
roof. The pebbledash stucco is typical of that period of architecture. The
Carolina Bed & Breakfast has been graciously restored and features warm
heart-pine floors, spacious rooms and seven working fireplaces. Farther down
Cumberland on your left is The Cumberland Falls Bed & Breakfast at 254
At Cumberland Falls Bed & Breakfast Inn (NRHP) 254 Cumberland Ave.
This early 20th century house is a 2½-story vernacular shingle dwelling which
features shingles over weatherboards, bay windows and porch. Charming rooms with
antique furnishings, ornamental fireplaces and ceiling fans await the visitors
to this graciously restored dwelling. At this point you will want to take the
right fork onto Cumberland Circle. Ahead on the left will be the Wythe Peyton
House at 46 Cumberland Circle, known today as Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast
Abbington Green Bed & Breakfast Inn (NRHP) 46 & 48 Cumberland Cir.
This stunning Colonial Revival home was built in 1908 for businessman David
Latourette Jackson and was officially named the Wythe Peyton House for another
prominent resident who lived here during the 1950s. It was designed by Richard
Sharp Smith and has been lovingly restored to all of its former glory. It
features shingles over weatherboards, Doric porch posts, molded trim and a
central gable. Inside, each of the eight stylishly appointed guest rooms is
named after parks and gardens in London.
Continuing on Cumberland Circle you will see the red Applewood Manor Inn on your
Manor Inn (NRHP) 62 Cumberland Cir.
Built before 1917, this shingle-sided Colonial Revival building features a
pedimented entrance supported on Doric columns and flanking porches. Located on
an acre and a half this finely restored bed & breakfast is a touch of country in
Continue on Cumberland Circle until it rejoins Cumberland Avenue and turn right.
Take Cumberland Avenue until you reach Panola Street. Turn left and go to
Montford Avenue. Turn right on Montford and then right again on Zillicoa Street.
Directly ahead on your left is the Homewood School Building and just beyond it
is the magnificent Rumbough House.
Homewood School Building (NRHP) 49 Zillicoa St.
Constructed in 1934 and designed by Dr. Robert S. Carroll, founder of Highland
Hospital, Homewood was for many years the home to Dr. Carroll and his second
wife Grace Potter Carroll. The castle-like Homewood was constructed of uncoursed
stone masonry, with an asymmetrical facade and entrance deeply recessed beneath
a basket arch. A crenellated polygonal tower at the building’s southeast corner
and additional crenellation atop a projecting bay at the north end give the
former residence the romantic image of a fortified castle.
Rumbough House (NRHP) 49 Zillicoa St.
Built in 1892 by James H. Rumbough, this elegant building, featuring a
combination of Queen Anne, Colonial Revival and Neoclassical elements, is
generally considered to be the most impressive residence in the Montford area.
It features weatherboarding, wide porches and pairs of tapered and molded porch
posts on stone pedestals. It is also known for its elaborately finished rooms.
The house was owned by James Edwin Rumbough (1861-1941) who became the first and
only mayor of the autonomous village of Montford when it was incorporated in
1893. Among his various other distinctions he is credited with being the first
person to drive an automobile across the Appalachian Mountains, a feat that he
accomplished in 1911. The house was purchased in 1952 by Duke University to
become the administration building for the former Highland Hospital. It now
houses the Carolina Center for Metabolic Medicine.
Turn around here and return on Zillicoa Street to Montford Avenue and turn left.
Continue down Montford for 3 blocks to Blake Street and turn left on Blake to
the stop sign. Turn right onto Cumberland Avenue and you’ll find The Redwood
House immediately on your right.
Redwood House (NRHP) 90 Cumberland Ave.
This early 20th century house is officially known as Redwood House and is a fine
example of Colonial Revival architecture. It features shingles over stucco,
Doric porch posts and a high pitched roof. Turn left in front of Redwood House
onto Elizabeth Street and continue to Flint Street. Turn right on Flint. Just
ahead on your right you’ll see the Flint Street Inns.
Flint Street Inns (NRHP) 100 & 116 Flint St.
The Flint Street Inns are two, side by side, distinguished old family homes that
date back to the turn of the century. The structure at 100 Flint Street is a
half-timbered stucco gable end dwelling. 116 Flint Street is thought to be one
of Richard Sharp Smith’s designs and features shingle over weatherboard,
bracketed eaves, Montford brackets and a large dormer. Rooms in the Inns are
furnished in turn-of-the-century style.
Your tour of Historic Montford is now over. Continue straight ahead up Flint
Street to Haywood Street and downtown Asheville.