The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook
 

Susanna Pantas, Artist

Albemarle Park
Historic District

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Albemarle Park Historic District

    Albemarle Park, located off Charlotte Street, is a planned residential community that is composed of 45 residences reflecting diverse and very attractive architectural styles that were built on a 32.42-acre tract of land acquired by William Green Raoul in 1886. Raoul, who served as president of both Georgian and Mexican railroads, was the visionary who conceived of Albemarle Park and who purchased the land from a local farmer named Deaver. It was his third son, Thomas Wadley Raoul, however who was to be the foreman of the project and the one who made the vision a reality. For almost twenty-five years he devoted his energies to overseeing the construction and management of The Manor and cottages.

The main building, The Manor, was built in 1898 by Thomas. He conceived the idea of a twenty-five room English style country inn to be used as a boarding house. He later modified his plan to include several individually designed cottages to complement the main house. From these beginnings the Albemarle Park neighborhood began to take shape, with Raoul insisting upon only the finest materials and workmanship to be used in the construction.

This neighborhood has very narrow curving streets that preserve much of the wooded landscape of the area. It is situated on the western slope of Sunset Mountain and is crowned by The Manor that graces a knoll that slopes down to Charlotte Street. This district is evocative of Asheville’s dramatic turn-of-the century resort town boom era, and its rich craftsmanship and informal charm is related to Biltmore Village.

The original site plan was designed by Samuel Parsons Jr., the landscape architect of New York’s Central Park. The design catered to wealthy lowlanders from Georgia and North and South Carolina who saw the mountains as a summer refuge. The crown jewel of this marvelous complex is The Manor, one of the last intact grand hotels from the late 19th century resort era. It was used for the filming of one of the scenes for the recent movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” This historic building also hosted the film crews for the movie, “The Swan,” and Grace Kelly, who starred in the film was a guest at the inn. Her former rooms are now known as the Princess Suite. Alec Guiness, Agnes Morehead and Louis Jordan also stayed at The Manor during that time.

The Manor was converted to a retirement hotel in 1961 by Charles Lavin. By 1976 The Manor had changed owners again and at this time it became a residential hotel, and in 1984, after severe winter damage, it was closed. The Preservation Society bought The Manor in 1989 when it was threatened with demolition, and in 1991, it was sold and restored in an historically sensitive way as an apartment complex. Without the efforts of this important local organization, this historical treasure would have been lost forever.

Each building in the neighborhood was intended to have a distinctive architectural style. A walk through the neighbor-hood reveals cottages that show Italian, French and Swiss influences as well as Georgian Revival, Appalachian and Adirondack styles of architecture. The primary architect of Albemarle Park was Bradford Lee Gilbert, who also designed the Virginia Beach Hotel (1888) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the Berkeley Arms Hotel (1883) in Berkeley, New Jersey.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating Historic District, you may purchase a copy of The Manor Cottages, a book published by the Albemarle Park-Manor Grounds Association, Inc. (P.O. Box 2231, Asheville, NC 28802), 258-1283. This excellent publication gives an in-depth look at the history and architecture.

                                        
Directions & Self-Guided Tour

Directions: To reach Albemarle Park take Charlotte Street north till you come to the original Gatehouse on your right at 265. Turn right onto Cherokee Road. The Manor will be on your left. Park your car if you wish in the small parking lot on Cherokee Road.

The Manor (NRHP, LHL) 265 Charlotte St.
Constructed in 1889, The Manor is a rambling group of interconnecting wings which combine elements of Shingle, Tudoresque and Dutch Colonial Revival architecture. The main portion of The Manor was built soon after the property, originally part of the Deaver Farm, was purchased in 1886 by the elder Raoul. This main portion of the inn is a twenty-five room five-part structure of rough field rock above which is a stucco and timber level. A second wing, built in 1903, angles out from the main body of the inn towards the road. The main level of this wing is Tudoresque and has cross timbering beneath the windows that is painted a deep red color. A third wing projects in the opposite direction and is composed of rough stone below green shingles. This wing was added in 1913-1914.

The interior of The Manor is wonderfully executed craftsmanship that is believed to have been done by Italian workmen from Biltmore Estate. An immense brick fireplace, a long, curved glass-enclosed sun corridor and Tiffany-type stained glass windows are among the notable features. Just below The Manor are the Gatehouse and the Clubhouse.

The Gatehouse (NRHP)
Also referred to as the Lodge, this building was the first structure built in Albemarle Park, erected by James A. Tennent in 1898. It was designed by Gilbert in the Tudoresque Shingle style with pebbledash stucco at the first floor and granite foundation. The Lodge arched over the entrance drive leading from Charlotte Street into The Park. During the early years of the development, the offices of the Albemarle Park Company were on the ground floor of the two-story shingle and stone turret. Today the Gatehouse is used for commercial office space.

The Club House (NRHP)
Built around 1903, it originally contained the tennis courts, bowling alleys, pool and billiard rooms and a reading lounge. It is an L-shaped building of stone and timber that has a long gallery on the second floor. Three small hexagonal offices now dot the area between the old tennis court and the Gatehouse, and though modern, are in character with the round and polygonal forms found on several of the earlier buildings. The Club House today is used for commercial office space.

After viewing these main buildings, you may wish to venture on foot to see some of the lovely cottages throughout Al-bemarle Park. Dogwood Cottage, Foxhall and Rose Bank are all within walking distance.

Dogwood Cottage Inn (NRHP) 40 Canterbury Rd.
This large 1˝-story rustic shingle cottage is now operated as a bed & breakfast, the Dogwood Cottage Inn. Main features are a continuous shed dormer across the main facade, casement windows and a bracketed hood over the entrance. It was built as a home for William Green and Mary Raoul in 1910 and sits on a commanding mountainside site offering views of the mountains to the west. The rustic style of the Dogwood Cottage relates to the traditional architecture of the Appalachians.

Foxhall and Fox Den (NRHP) 60 Terrace Rd.
Foxhall is the larger of the two and was built in 1914 by E.A. Fordtran, who was the owner of the New Orleans Times/Picayune newspaper. It is a 2˝-story building, originally stucco and shingle, which has been refaced with brick veneer and siding. The building has graceful roof lines and fenestration and is beautifully landscaped. Fox Den is a two-story gambrel roofed garage apartment of stucco and timber that adjoins Foxhall.

Rose Bank (NRHP) 106 Orchard Rd.
Rose Bank is a two-story shingle cottage with a projecting Dutch gambrel wing and double porches, designed in the Dutch Colonial Revival Style. Built around 1905, Rose Bank has distinctive windows that have diamond-paned upper sashes playfully arranged. Windows of various sizes and shapes are tied together with simple trim.

 

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