Tour the Smith-McDowell House, Asheville’s first mansion and oldest surviving structure, now restored as a history museum. It is one of our Top 10 Civil War Sites. Built by one of antebellum North Carolina’s most influential citizens, this National Register property was once the home of mayors, a Confederate Major, and friends of the Vanderbilts at nearby Biltmore Estate (just three miles away).
In addition to restored period rooms spanning 1840 through 1900, the house also features special history exhibits in its Gallery Rooms. Be sure to visit for our acclaimed Victorian Christmas Celebration and other seasonal events. The grounds are an Official Treasured Tree Preserve and were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1900. The Museum’s grounds are also home to the Buncombe County Civil War Memorial.
The four-story mansion was built on a plantation south of Asheville approximately 20 years before the Civil War. Constructed on a hill’s summit, ringed by picturesque mountains, the manse was constructed by slave labor. During a time when most people lived in log cabins, the imposing structure was composed of rare brick.
In addition to being the oldest surviving house in Asheville it's the oldest brick house in Buncombe County. This house museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 10-4 PM. Adult admission is $9/person.
2016 Blue Ridge Parkway Exhibit
May 17-mid November 2016: See an exhibit about the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway with historic photographs and documents and architectural plans. Trace the parkway’s construction from route selection in the early 1930s to the construction of the Linn Cove Viaduct in 1987. Also see domestic items and furniture from homes that were displaced due to the construction of the parkway, as well as paintings by Asheville artist Jeff Pittman.
Traditional Christmas Historic Home Tours (Photo at top of page)
Mid November 2016- Early January 2017
The mansion and local history museum is authentically decorated with fresh trees, garlands, ornaments and toys of the Victorian Period. Six period rooms are decked out with gold, silver and glassware from their permanent collections.
The History Center at Smith-McDowell House is located on the campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College at 283 Victoria Road in Asheville. When in doubt follow the signs to A-B Tech College.
- From I-40: Take Exit 50 toward Biltmore Estate and downtown Asheville. Proceed 1/2 mile and stay to the right as the road forks (Biltmore Ave./US 25 North). Proceed one mile and turn left onto Hospital Drive at the signal by Mission Hospital. Turn left again at the light onto Victoria Rd. The House is located on the right about 1/2 mile down Victoria Road.
- From I-240 & Downtown: Take Exit 5B (Charlotte Street) toward downtown Asheville. Travel .9 mile and turn left onto Biltmore Ave./US 25 South. Proceed .6 mile. Turn right onto Hospital Drive at the signal by Mission Hospital, then left at the signal to Victoria Road. The House is about 1/2 mile down Victoria Road on the right.
For more, visit the Western North Carolina Historical Association website.