To purchase a print of this drawing by author/artist
Lee Pantas, visit
Cherry Orchard Studio
itself has four distinct neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive
qualities and ambience: Battery Park, the area that includes Haywood Street,
Wall Street, and Battery Park Avenue; Lexington Park, spanning Lexington Avenue
and Broadway; Pack Square, encompassing Pack Square, South Pack Square, Biltmore
Avenue, and Patton Avenue; and Thomas Wolfe Plaza, centered on Market Street and
One of the very best ways to experience these neighborhoods and most of the
downtown Asheville historic buildings presented below is to walk the Asheville
Urban Trail. This self-guided walking tour visits all four of the neighborhoods
discussed here, with stations and thematic markers along the way. For more
information about this extraordinary way to trace the footsteps of Asheville’s
historic past, go here
Asheville Urban Trail.
Another way to see the historic districts is to take a tour on one of two
replica trolleys. See
Asheville Tours for more information.
Pack Square, and the nearby South Pack Square, Biltmore Avenue, and Patton
Avenue, is the heart of Asheville. Lo-ated at the intersection of Biltmore
Avenue, Broadway, and College Street, it was once known as Public Square and was
renamed in 1901 for city benefactor George Willis Pack when he moved the
courthouse off the square and, in agreement with county commissioners, the
square was designated a public park. This spacious square is surrounded by
wonderful examples of Classical, Gothic, Art Deco, and Contemporary
Today, Pack Square and its surrounding streets are a vibrant and historic city
center that not only boasts elegant architecture but superb museums, shops,
music halls, art galleries and world class restaurants. A visit to Pack Square
will show you immediately why Asheville has been called “Paris of the South.”
Vance Monument (NRHP) Pack Square
Located in the square’s center is a 75-foot tall granite obelisk, the Vance
Monument, erected in 1896 and named in honor of Zebulon B. Vance, an Asheville
attorney who was twice governor of North Carolina and was also a U.S.
Senator.Two-thirds of the $3,000 cost was paid by philanthropist George W. Pack,
and the architect R.S. Smith donated his services. The granite obelisk was cut
from the Pacolet quarries in Henderson County.
Pack Memorial Library Building (NRHP, LHL) 2 South Pack Square
Located on the southern side of Pack Square is the Pack Memorial Library
Building. Today this noble Second Renaissance Revival structure is home to the
Asheville Art Museum, part of the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center.
Built in 1925-26 and designed by New York Library architect Edward L. Tilton,
the four-story building presents symmetrically arranged elevations faced with
white Georgia marble and ornamented with a low-relief classical cornice.
Jackson Building (NRHP) 22 South Pack Square
To the left of the Library Building is the wonderfully elegant Jackson Building.
Built in 1923-24 by real estate developer L.B. Jackson and it was the first
skyscraper in Western North Carolina. The architect was Ronald Greene and the
building he designed rises 13 stories on a small 27 x 60 foot lot. Neo-Gothic in
style, the building originally had a searchlight on top that illuminated the
City Hall (NRHP, LHL) 70 Court Plaza
To the east of Pack Square is the Art Deco masterpiece designed by Douglas D.
Ellington, and built in 1926-28. One of the crown jewels of Asheville it is set
on a marble base and topped with a pink and green tiled octagonal ziggurat roof.
A wonderful unity of appearance is achieved through the luxurious use of color
and form. The main entrance is through a loggia of pink marble with multicolored
groin vaults. One of the most striking and beautiful buildings in all of North
Carolina, City Hall is a show stopper in a city graced by many unusual and
County Courthouse (NRHP) 60 Court Plaza
To the left of the City Hall is the Buncombe County Courthouse. Designed by
Milburn and Heister of Washington, DC, and built in 1927-28, this steel frame
seventeen-story courthouse has a brick and limestone classical surface. It has
an opulent lobby ornamented with polychrome classical plaster work and marble
balustrades. Polished granite columns at the entrance are echoed by similar
columns above at the jail section. The large superior court room has a coffered
plaster ceiling and elegant woodwork.
Young Men’s Institute Building (NRHP, LHL) Market and Eagle St.
Located behind the Pack Place Education, Arts, & Science Center on the corner of
South Market and Eagle streets is the Young Men’s Institute (YMI) Building,
built by George Vanderbilt in 1892 to serve as a recreational and cultural
center for black men and boys. It was sold to the Young Men’s Institute in 1906
and became a center for social activity in the black community and contained
professional offices and a black public library. Designed by R.S. Smith in a
simplified English Cottage style with a pebbledash and brick surface, today it
houses the YMI Cultural Center, part of Pack Place Education, Arts & Science
Eagle and Market Streets (NRHP)
This district was the heart of the black community in Asheville in the early
days and today contains many fine buildings of historic importance, including
the YMI Building mentioned earlier. Of interest are the Campbell Building at 38
South Market Street, originally an office building, and the former Black Masonic
Temple Building at 44 South Market Street.
Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church (NRHP) 47 Eagle St.
Also in this historic area is the large and handsome Mount Zion Missionary
Baptist Church. A three-tower red brick Late Victorian Gothic structure built in
1919, it has a tin-shingled roof that has ornamental sheet-metal finials. The
large number of Art Glass windows that grace the church are another unusual
feature. It was home to one of Asheville’s largest black congregations,
organized in 1880 by the noted Reverend Rumley.
Kress Building (NRHP, LHL) 21 Patton Ave.
Just down from Pack Square on Patton Avenue, you will encounter one of
Asheville’s finest commercial buildings, the Kress building. Housing today an
antique and crafts emporium, this four-story building was built in 1926-27.
Distinctive features are the cream colored glazed terra-cotta with orange and
blue rosette borders that face the front three bays of the building. In addition
the side elevations above the first level are tan brick with terra-cotta
inserts. This classical design preceded the many Art Deco Kress stores built
around the country in the late 1930s and is unique in that sense.
Building (NRHP) 48 Patton Ave.
Farther west is the splendid Romanesque Revival Drhumor Building. Built in 1895,
this structure is an imposing four stories of brick trimmed with rock-faced
limestone and graced by a marvelous first floor frieze by sculptor Fred Miles.
One of the bearded visages is supposedly of local merchant E.C. Deake, who
watched Miles sculpt. Miles was also the sculptor who did the figures atop the
Basilica of St. Lawrence. A complementary limestone frontispiece was added to
the north side of the building in the 1920s and the original corner entrance was
filled in. The building was de-signed by A.L. Melton for Will J. Cocke and his
relatives, Mrs. Marie Johnson and Miss Mattie. The name Drhumor comes from the
Johnson family’s ancestral home in Ireland.
Cafeteria Building (NRHP, LHL) 56 Patton Ave.
A little farther down Patton Avenue is another of the crown jewels of Asheville,
and one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in North Carolina, the
S&W Cafeteria Building. It was built in 1929 for the cafeteria chain which
occupied the building until 1973. The building was designed by Douglas D.
Ellington, and is two stories with a polychrome cream, green, blue, black and
gilt glazed terra cotta facade that employs geometrically-stylized Indian and
classical mo-tifs. The interior is divided into dining rooms and lobbies with
Art Deco decorations of superb quality. The building today is used for catering
of meetings, receptions and banquets.
Public Service Building (NRHP, LHL) 89-93 Patton Ave.
Farther west is the Public Service Building built in 1929. This imposing
eight-story Neo-Spanish Romanesque steel frame office building is one of North
Carolina’s most attractive 1920s skyscrapers. Built of red brick and glazed
terra cotta, its first two and upper floors are lavishly ornamented with
polychrome terra cotta including such whimsical details as Leda-and-the-Swan
spring blocks on the second-floor windows.
Building (NRHP, LHL) 10-20 Battery Park Ave.
The Flatiron Building is an eight-story tan brick building that has classical
detailing and a “flatiron” plan. Built in 1925-26, and designed by Albert C.
Wirth, this elegant and unique building is faced with limestone ashlar and is
perched at the entrance to the historic Wall Street district. A large metal
sculpture of a household iron sits outside on the Wall Street side of the
Wall Street (NRHP)
This charming one-block street of small shops was named Wall Street
after the retaining wall built behind the structures that face
Pritchard Park. In 1926 Tench Coxe and Ed Ray remodeled and
repainted the rear entrances to these building to create a boutique
district, which they called “Greenwich Village.” That name never
caught on, and the district was simply called Wall Street. Today it
is a one of Asheville’s most interesting shopping districts, with
many top-¬quality gift and specialty shops. When there, notice the
unusual gingko trees planted along the street.
Arcade (NRHP, LHL) 10-20 Battery Park Ave.
Located just north of Wall Street, the grand Grove Arcade building
occupies a full city block. This imposing building was begun in 1926
by E.W. Grove to be a commercial mall topped with an office
skyscraper. Completed after Grove’s death minus the skyscraper, the
building is surfaced with cream glazed terra-cotta in a Neo-Tudor
Gothic style. It is one of several major buildings for which the
millionaire was responsible, with the most noteworthy among them
being the Grove Park Inn. The arcade was designed by Charles N.
Parker. Among the most interesting details are a pair of winged
Griffin statues guarding the Battle Square entrance of the building.
After years of service as offices for the federal government, the
Grove Arcade is now home to commercial shops and venues.
Battery Park Hotel (NRHP, LHL) 1 Battle Square
The hotel is a huge 14-story T-plan Neo-Georgian hotel erected by
E.W. Grove in 1923-24. This extraordinary building was designed by
hotel architect W.L. Stoddart of New York and replaced a previous
Queen Anne style hotel of the same name. It is surfaced in brick
with limestone and terra-cotta trim. The hotel building today houses
apartments and is located just north of the Grove Arcade.
United States Post Office and Courthouse (NRHP) 100 Otis St.
Located just west of the Grove Arcade is the former post office and
courthouse building, one of the state’s finest Depression-era
Federal buildings. This Art-Deco influenced building was designed by
the Federal Architect’s Office under James A. Wetmore. The building
has a majestically massed central entrance in which the Art Deco
influence can be seen.
Church of Christ Scientist (NRHP) 64 North French Broad Ave.
The First Church of Christ Scientist is of a refined Jeffersonian,
Neo-Classical Revival style, constructed of orange brick. Built
between 1909 and 1912, it was designed by S.S. Beaman of Chicago.
of Saint Lawrence, D.M. (NRHP) 97 Haywood St.
To the north of the Grove Arcade area is the Basilica of Saint
Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, built in 1909. A Spanish Baroque
Revival Roman Catholic Church built of red brick with polychrome
glazed terra-cotta inserts and limestone trim, it was designed by
world-famous architect/engineer Raphael Guastavino. The church
employs his “cohesive construction” techniques in its large oval
tile dome and Catalan-style vaulting in its two towers. The massive
stone foundations and the solid brick superstructure give silent
testimony to the architect’s desire to build an edifice that would
endure for generations. There are no beams of wood or steel in the
entire structure; all walls, floors, ceilings and pillars are of
tile or other masonry materials. The dome is entirely self
supporting, has a clear span of 58 x 82 feet and is reputed to be
the largest unsupported dome in North America. The Crucifixion
tableaux of the Basilica altar features a rare example of
seventeenth century Spanish woodcarving. The windows are of German
origin, and the Basilica has two chapels. Attached by an arcade is
the 1929 Neo-Tuscan Renaissance brick rectory designed by Father
Michael of Belmont Abbey. Self-guided tour brochures are available
at the church, and guided tours are given after Sunday masses.
Loughran Building (NRHP, LHL) 43 Haywood St.
The Loughran Building was in 1923 and is a six-story steel-frame
commercial building that has a restrained white glazed terra cotta
classical facade. It was designed by Smith and Carrier for Frank
Loughran and its first occupant was Denton’s Department Store.
Central United Methodist Church (NRHP) 27 Church St.
Located on Church Street, south of Patton Avenue, this Gothic
limestone-faced church was designed by R.H. Hunt of Chattanaooga,
Tennessee. The church is noted for its fine stained and Art Glass
windows and was built between 1902 and 1905.
First Presbyterian Church (NRHP) 40 Church St.
This Gothic Revival church is home to one of Asheville’s oldest
congregations and is one of the oldest church buildings in the city.
Located on the corner of Church and Aston streets, the brick nave
and steeple were constructed in 1884-85 and have deep, corbelled
cornices, hood-molded windows and blind arcading at the eaves. The
north chapel and the south building were added in 1968.
Trinity Episcopal Church (NRHP) Church and Aston St.
Located on the opposite corner of Church and Aston Streets, the
Trinity Episcopal Church is the third of the three churches in this
Church Street neighborhood. Built in 1921, it is a Tudor Gothic
Revival style brick with granite trim build-ing and was designed by
Bertram Goodhue of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, well-known church
architects. This lovely building has a simple gable roofed sanctuary
with transepts and a short gable-roofed blunt tower.
Ravenscroft School Building (NRHP, LHL) 29 Ravenscroft Dr.
Built in the 1840s, this two-and-a-half story brick Greek Revival
house is probably the oldest structure in the downtown area and one
of the oldest in Asheville. It housed the Ravenscroft Episcopal
Boys’ Classical and Theological School after 1856 until the Civil
War. Thereafter it was used as a training school for the ministry.
In 1886 it was used again as a boys’ school. After the turn of the
century, it was a rooming house, and today it is used for
professional offices. Details of the house in Academic Greek Revival
are of a type not common to Western North Carolina.
Mears House (NRHP) 137 Biltmore Ave.
Located on Biltmore Avenue, the Mears House is a wonderful example
of Queen Anne style architecture. Built around 1885, this brick
residence has a slate-shingled mansard roof, gables and dormers.
This is the most distinguished of the remaining late nineteenth
century residences near downtown.
Scottish Rite Cathedral and Masonic Temple (NRHP) 80 Broadway
Built in 1913, this imposing four-story building is constructed of
pressed brick and trimmed in limestone and grey brick. A two-story
limestone portico with a pair of Ionic columns graces the Broadway
entrance. The building was designed by Smith and Carrier.
Lexington Avenue (NRHP)
This once thriving market district was where farmers and others once
came to water their horses and buy and sell local produce. Because
natural springs kept it wet, Lexington Avenue was first called Water
Street. Double doorways accommodating farmers’ wagons are still
evident on renovated buildings. Lexington Avenue is Asheville’s
premier antique district and many antique shops, specialty stores,
galleries and nightclubs are found today in this interesting
Baptist Church of Asheville (NRHP) 5 Oak St.
Built in 1927, the First Baptist Church of Asheville was designed by
noted architect Douglas Ellington from his sketches of a cathedral
in Florence, Italy. Three major additions have been made to the
building. The Children’s Wing was added in 1968, and the Sherman
Family Center in 1980. This wonderfully elegant building is an
unusual combination of an Early Italian Renaissance form and color
scheme arranged in a beaux arts plan with Art Deco detailing. Of
particular interest is the Art Deco copper lantern atop the dome and
the subtle gradation of color in the roofing tiles. The walls are an
effective combination of orange bricks, terra-cotta moldings and
pink marble. This striking building is at the corner of Oak and
First Christian Church (NRHP) 20 Oak St.
Right across the street is the First Christian Church, built between
1925 and 1926 in a traditional Late Gothic Style, and constructed of
rock-faced grey granite masonry with smooth granite trim. Designed
by the home office, it has an unusual feature in that the placement
of the tower is at the intersection of the nave and transept.