Stop by the Swannanoa Valley Museum in downtown Black Mountain (223 West State Street) to learn about the social, cultural and natural history of this area of mountains. Also see a rotating series of interesting exhibits or take one of their guided hikes. Swannanoa Valley has been inhabited for more than 12,000 years.
April 8-December 1, 2017: Palaces for the People: Guastavino’s Tile Domes and Vaulting
On the first floor of the museum is a very fascinating exhibit for 2017! From 1882 to l943, in 31 states and 6 countries, Raphael Guastavino and his son created more than 600 unique tile domes and vaultings. This exhibition traces his life and works. George Vanderbilt contracted him to bring his talent for tile vaulting into major areas of the Biltmore Estate. He then bought 1,100 acres in Black Mountain and built a home and studio. You can take a self-guided tour of his estate which is now a conference center about a mile from the museum. Unable to find a seat in the tiny Catholic church in Asheville, Guastovino built his last great structure, the St. Lawrence Basilica with the largest free-standing elliptical dome in North America. He is buried under that dome. The Basilica is open most days for a free tour.
The building that houses the museum is the former Black Mountain Firehouse, built in 1912, designed by Asheville’s premiere architect, Richard Sharp Smith.
Go upstairs to see their permanent exhibit called "Pathways from the Past" that includes animals and plants of the region, early settlers and the arrival of the railroad, along with more recent history.
The Swannanoa Valley Museum offers two guided hike series (see this year's hikes).
Hours & Admission
The Swannanoa Valley Museum is open:
Early April through Early December or by appointment
Tuesday through Saturday
10 AM until 5 PM
Admission by donation ($5 suggested)
Go to their Web site.
Read more about visiting the St. Lawrence Basilica to see the amazing dome!