Thomas Wolfe’s autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel tells the story of a fictionalized Asheville, N.C. In it he writes, “Dull people filled him with terror.” This observation makes sense, given that only a handful of people lived in the small town of Montford when Wolfe was growing up.
However, the neighborhood was annexed to the city of Asheville in 1905 following a development plan organized by the Asheville Loan, Construction, and Improvement Company. From there, the once-dull neighborhood of Montford dropped its independence and picked up fabulousness.
Though predominantly used for single-family homes, land use in Montford has been mixed since the earliest days of development. The old Highland Hospital, located off the northern end of Montford Avenue, was the scene of a deadly fire in 1948—among the victims was Zelda Fitzgerald.
Author William Sydney Porter, commonly known as O’Henry, was also a native of Montford. His grave can be found at the Riverside Cemetery, along with Wolfe’s. Clearly this small neighborhood, bounded by the U.S. Routes 19/23, I-240, and Broadway, managed to amass an arsenal of stellar literary figures.
But these literary giants were not the only neighborhood stars. For starters, the enterprise that was Montford was taken over by George Willis Pack, known back then as a Midwestern lumber tycoon and now recorded in history as a “philanthropist and benefactor” of both the town’s library and square.
The demographic sphere in Montford was comprised of mostly middle class, day-to-day players such as lawyers, doctors, businessmen and architects. Many working class and African-American citizens also found a home in this neighborhood.
Montford became a listed Historic District in 1977 in the National Register of Historic Places, a merit it also achieved at a local level in 1981 through the Asheville City Counci
Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.
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