Tour the fascinating 1840s Smith-McDowell House, Asheville’s first mansion and oldest surviving structure, now restored as a history museum for the area. 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 fact, it was built 55 years before the Biltmore House. It is one of our Top 10 Civil War Sites.
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 their 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.
Mid November-December: Traditional Christmas Historic Home Tours
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.
Open Wednesday through Saturday 10-4 PM. Adult admission is $9/adult, $5/child age 8-18
The 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.