The Chestnut Hill
Historic District is centered around Chestnut Hill, the apex of a knoll running
west from Patton Mountain just 500 yards north of the center of Asheville. The
neighborhood surrounding the hill was once an extension of the
nineteenth-century residential streets that began a block off the city’s Public
Square. This district is a relatively compact late-nineteenth and
early-twentieth-century residential neighborhood whose architectural styles and
landscaping form a well-defined place. Tree-lined streets, brick-paved sidewalks
and granite curbing are all unique features.
Practically all of the more than 200 buildings in the district were originally
dwellings. Architecturally they range from the local in-town vernacular of the
period to sophisticated versions of the nationally popular Queen Anne, Colonial
Revival and Shingle styles.
The district dates from Asheville’s post-railroad (post-1880) boom period and
its finer homes reflect the relative sophistication of the city’s more
substantial citizens of that time. Besides a continuous growth in permanent
residents, Asheville experienced an annual influx of thousands of summer and
winter tourists and a number of Chestnut Hill “cottages” were built as high
quality rental properties.
In this section, some of the more important houses will be presented as a
self-guided driving tour. This is a very convenient way to see the Chestnut Hill
district. Allow about an hour for the tour, and slightly more if you wish to
park occasionally to get out and examine some of the buildings closer. As a
note, Chestnut Hill District and the following two districts, Albermarle Park
and Grove Park are very close together. It is possible to see all three of these
important neighborhoods in a few hours.
Directions & Self-Guided Tour
Directions: Begin your tour by taking Merrimon Avenue
north to Hillside Street. Turn right onto Hillside and go to
second right North Liberty Street. Turn right onto North
Liberty. A short distance on the left you’ll see a classic
North Liberty Victorian House 76 North Liberty St.
A wonderful example of Victorian architecture, the elegant house is intricate in
its detail and styling. It is a multi-gabled structure with flaring eaves and
standing-seam tin roof, and has a square tower with a mansard-like shingled cap
dominating the house adjacent to two projecting bays. The house’s elaborate
porch features turned posts, a scroll-bracketed cornice above a ladder frieze
and a Chinese-Chippendale-like balustrade. Currently the building is undergoing
restoration. Continuing on North Liberty you will come upon the historic
Beaufort House Bed & Breakfast on your left.
Beaufort House 61 North Liberty St.
This Victorian bed & breakfast is a grand 2˝-story pink Queen Anne style house
built in 1895 by former State Attorney general and prominent Asheville resident
Theodore Davidson. This elegant building features a roof line that sweeps down
upon an ample veranda accented at its southern end by a fanciful pergola.
Elaborate interior woodwork includes paneled wainscoting and a closed-stringer
stairway with intricately carved newel post and balusters. The building has been
wonderfully restored as Beaufort House Bed & Breakfast and is furnished with
antiques and period furniture.
From this unique house continue down North Liberty and turn left on East
Chestnut Street. Located just one block down are two wonderfully restored bed &
breakfasts. Chestnut Street is noted for its many fine examples of Colonial
Revival, Queen Anne-influenced and bracketed Victorian homes.
White Gate Inn & Cottage 173 East Chestnut St.
Known officially as the Kent House, it was built circa 1889 and is a tall
2˝-story Shingle style house. The building features tall exterior chimneys
centered on minor gables. Mr. Kent who owned the house reportedly ran the
Asheville Ice Company. Today it houses the White Gate Inn that is beautifully
furnished with period antiques, fine furniture and collectibles. Directly across
the street is the Chestnut Street Inn.
Street Inn 176 East Chestnut St.
Officially known as the William R. Whitson house, this Grand Colonial Revival
House was built circa 1905. The house is constructed out of pressed brick and is
two and a half stories with hip-on-hip roof with central Palladian dormer. The
house, constructed for Whitson by J. M. Westall, has some of the finest woodwork
in Asheville, including a graceful closed stringer stairway, beautiful arts &
crafts wainscoting, and elaborate mirrored mantles. Today, Chestnut Street Inn
welcomes visitors to its gracious and exquisite interior impeccably furnished
with antiques and period decorations.Just down the street on the right is the
Annie West House.
Annie West House 189 East Chestnut St.
Built around 1900, this picturesque half-timbered cottage was designed by
Richard Sharp Smith. Standing 1˝ stories, it features a “veranda” across facade
beneath a large central gable and smaller flanking dormers. This detail links it
stylistically to early Biltmore Village architecture. Continue down East
Chestnut to the Jeter Pritchard House.
Jeter Pritchard House 223 East Chestnut St.
This imposing two-story frame house was built by architect and builder James A.
Tennent, who sold it to Sena-tor Jeter Conly Pritchard in 1904. Construction
dates back to around 1895. The building is a boxy weatherboard form under a
multi-gabled roof. The interior of the house features exceptional woodworking.
Continue down East Chestnut to Charlotte Street and turn left. Take a right onto
Baird Street and take your second left onto Albemarle Place to find The Carl Von
Ruck House on your left.
Carl Von Ruck House (NRHP, LHL) 52 Albemarle Pl.
This rambling three-story house was built in three distinct stages by Dr. Carl
Von Ruck, famed tuberculosis specialist who founded the Winyah Sanitorium on
Sunset Mountain. In 1904 he bought twenty acres, including two houses that were
on the property. One of the houses is incorporated into the north end of the
present structure. In 1912 he built a separate house for his resident MDs just
to the south and in 1915 he built between these two buildings, connecting them
with a grand two-story music room with twin elliptic conservatories to either
side. The music room features Viennese-crafted mahogany woodwork and houses Dr.
Ruck’s sixty-seven rank Aeolian Organ, with 4800 handmade wooden pipes rising
two stories behind a curved mahogany screen.
At this point, turn around and return down Albemarle Place to Baird Street. At
Baird turn left and look on the left for the Edward I. Holmes House.
Edward I. Holmes House 60 Baird St.
Built around 1883, this wonderfully restored house is an elaborated frame
two-story double-pile plan design. There is a hip roof with internal brick
chimneys and gabled projecting bays on each elevation. Other unique features are
chamfered posts on opaque shoulder brackets and an elaborate scrollwork
balustrade. No other 20th-century building in Asheville, especially of the finer
structures, is as little altered as this house.
Turn right onto Furman Avenue across from the Holmes House and continue down to
East Chestnut Street. Turn right onto East Chestnut and just before you reach
Charlotte Street you will see the white Thomas Patton House on your left. The
main entrance is off Charlotte Street but virtually impossible to see from that
direction because of the trees and landscaping.
Thomas Patton House 95 Charlotte St.
Built in 1869, the Thomas Patton House is a two-story frame house formally
organized around central and traverse hallways. It has very interesting external
features in chevron-latticed bargeboards. Tradition maintains that the house was
built by black carpenters working from the plans of Thomas Patton. Patton was
the grandson of James Patton, mayor of Asheville and active public servant.